Session November 22, 2016
from the Tennessee Claims Commission No. T20141330 William O.
appeal involves a suit filed in the Tennessee Claims
Commission against the State of Tennessee for the wrongful
death of Tammy Hale. The claimant, Ms. Hale's father,
titled his cause of action as one for "negligent care,
custody, and control of persons" pursuant to Tennessee
Code Annotated section 9-8-307(a)(1)(E). The claimant alleged
that the State was responsible for the actions of an inmate
whose release was not conditioned upon participation in
community supervision for life as required by section
39-13-524. The State sought dismissal, alleging that the
claim was really one for "negligent deprivation of
statutory rights" based upon the failure to adhere to
section 39-13-524, which does not confer a private right of
action. Following a hearing, the Claims Commission, William
O. Shults, Commissioner, agreed and dismissed the claim. The
claimant appeals. We affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Tennessee
Claims Commission Affirmed; Case Remanded
Michael E. Richardson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the
appellant, Danny Hale.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andree S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Eric A. Fuller,
Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.
W. McClarty, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J. and D. Michael Swiney, C.J.,
W. McCLARTY, JUDGE
Releford, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit first
degree murder, aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated
rape, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping, was sentenced
to confinement in the Tennessee Department of Correction
("the TDOC"). Tennessee Code Annotated section
39-13-524 requires that those convicted of certain offenses,
including aggravated rape, remain subject to community
supervision for life in order "to protect the public
from the person's committing a new sex offense, as well
as [to promote] the rehabilitation of the person." The
requirement of community supervision for life must be
included on the judgment of conviction pursuant to Section
39-13-524. The requirement was not included on Mr.
Releford's judgment of conviction for aggravated rape.
noticing that Mr. Releford's judgment of conviction did
not contain the proper notation, the TDOC specifically
requested a corrected judgment from the Bradley County
District Attorney's Office by letter, dated September 23,
2005. A corrected judgment was never entered, and Mr.
Releford was released without the requirement of further
supervision on May 21, 2012.
his release, Mr. Releford met Tammy Hale, a mother of two
young girls. They married on August 20, 2012. On May 19,
2013, Mr. Releford murdered Ms. Hale, who was nine months
pregnant with his child, and raped one of her daughters.
Hale's father, Danny Hale ("Claimant"), filed a
notice of claim with the Division of Claims Administration
against the State, namely the judicial and prosecutorial
officials involved in the case, alleging a cause of action
for negligent care, custody, and control of persons pursuant
to Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(a)(1)(E). He
claimed that the officials had committed negligence by
failing to correct the judgment to reflect the requirement of
community supervision for life pursuant to section 39-13-524.
claim was transferred to the Tennessee Claims Commission
("the Claims Commission") with William O. Shults
serving as the Claims Commissioner. The State filed a motion
to dismiss, arguing that the State officials were entitled to
immunity and that the claim was really one for negligent
deprivation of statutory rights based upon the failure to
adhere to section 39-13-524, which does not confer a private
right of action. Claimant sought to amend his complaint to
include the TDOC as a party. Commissioner Shults dismissed
all claims against the judicial and prosecutorial officials
and any allegations presumably based upon the negligent
deprivation of statutory rights, finding that section
39-13-524 did not confer a private right of action. However,
he permitted a hearing on whether the TDOC could be held
liable for the negligent care, custody, and control of
persons pursuant to section 9-8-307(a)(1)(E).
case proceeded to a hearing, at which several witnesses
testified. Torye Lee, a TDOC employee, testified that she was
promoted to a management position in the sentence computation
services unit approximately 12 years ago. She stated that the
TDOC is responsible for documenting an offender's
sentence and calculating release eligibility dates and
sentence expiration dates. She provided that her unit is
specifically responsible for ensuring that all orders of
conviction received from the court are inputted into the TDOC
system within ten business days. She stated that the analysts
in her unit cannot change an illegal sentence unless they
receive a corrected order from the court. She explained that
the analysts contact the jail, the court, or the district
attorney's office by telephone, email, fax, or letter to
ensure that the information they have is correct or to
request a corrected order when needed. She stated that there
is not a procedure in place when a timely response to her
unit's inquiries is not received.
provided that her unit is also responsible for indicating
whether an offender is subject to community supervision for
life upon his or her release. She identified a copy of a
letter she sent to the Bradley County District Attorney
General's Office regarding Mr. Releford's aggravated
rape convictions. The letter, dated September 23, 2005,
provided as follows:
This letter is in reference to Terry Releford being sentenced
in Bradley County, Tennessee on March 3, 1998.
He was convicted of Aggravated Rape in the above listed case
and received a total sentence of seventeen years. This order
does not indicate that he is to receive community supervision
for life per [Tennessee Code Annotated section] 39-13-524.
Please clarify the court's intent by having an amended or
corrected order forwarded advising that this conviction
carries lifetime supervision. At this time, our record is not
flagged to ...