University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Alley v. Little CJ-TN-0003
Docket / Court 06-0340 ( M.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On April 11, 2006, Sedley Alley, a death-sentenced inmate at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Tennessee Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. ... read more >
On April 11, 2006, Sedley Alley, a death-sentenced inmate at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Tennessee Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Alley complained to the Court that the defendants' lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional, arguing that the executed was not properly anesthetized, allowing him to feel the excrutiating pain caused by the potassium chloride injection. He also argued that the use of the paralytic agent pancuronium bromide was arbitrary and unreasonable because it risked the infliction of torture, causing the executed to suffocate due to the inability to use his lungs. Alley asked the Court to enjoin the defendants from "using, seeking to obtain, ordering, writing a prescription, writing a physician's order, prescribing, dispensing, or in any other manner transferring to Defendant Bell or any other defendants involved in the execution process pancuronium bromide in any form whatsoever." He also asked the Court to declare the defendants' lethal injection protocol unconstitutional.

The day after the complaint was filed, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Judge Aleta A. Trauger) transferred the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee because the plaintiff already had a case pending there. On the same day, the plaintiff asked the Middle District of Tennessee to reconsider the transfer of the case, and the next day, the Court agreed to reconsider the case transfer, noting that the defendants had not opposed the plaintiff's wish to keep the case in the Middle District.

On April 19, 2006, the defendants asked the District Court to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff had not demonstrated any likelihood that his complaint would prevail at trial. On May 2, 2006, the District Court (Judge Trauger) ordered that the defendants' motion to dismiss would be held in abeyance pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Hill v. McDonough (CJ-FL-2). Alley v. Little, 2006 WL 1207611 (M.D.Tenn. May 2, 2006). On May 11, 2006, the District Court stayed Alley's execution pending further orders of the court.

The defendants appealed the District Court's orders holding the motion to dismiss in abeyance and staying the execution. On May 12, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Chief Judge Danny Julian Boggs) held that the lethal injection protocol at issue was not cruel and unusual punishment, and that Alley was not entitled to a preliminary injunction staying his execution. The court then vacated the District Court's orders. Alley v. Little, No. 06-5650, 181 Fed.Appx. 509 (6th Cir. 2006). The plaintiff asked the Sixth Circuit to rehear the case en banc, and four days later, the Sixth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing.

On June 12, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a slip opinion in Hill v. McDonough in which it held that a prisoner's lethal injection challenge could be brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and did not have to be brought as a habeas claim, so long as the prisoner was only challenging the method of injection instead of challenging lethal injection as a general matter.

Two days after the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Hill was issued, the District Court (Judge Trauger) granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the case, noting the Supreme Court's reiteration of a state's "important interest in the timely enforcement of a sentence," and finding that Alley had brought this lawsuit merely to delay his execution, rather than to address a legitimate violation of his rights. Alley v. Little, No. 06-0340, 2006 WL 1697207 (M.D.Tenn. Jun.14, 2006).

Alley appealed the dismissal of his case, and on June 24, 2006, the Sixth Circuit (Judge Boggs) affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the case, finding that Alley's case was extremely unlikely to succeed on the merits, and that he had brought the lawsuit merely to delay his execution. Alley v. Little, 186 Fed.Appx. 604 (6th Cir. 2006). Alley applied to the Sixth Circuit for a rehearing en banc, which was denied three days later. Alley v. Little, 452 F.3d 621 (6th Cir. 2006). Alley then applied to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of his execution, and on July 17, 2006, (which was actually after his execution) the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition.

On June 28, 2006, Sedley Alley was executed by lethal injection.

Kristen Sagar - 09/13/2007


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Death Penalty
Lethal Injection - General
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Tennessee Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description a death-sentenced inmate at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing CJ-FL-0002 : Hill v. McDonough (N.D. Fla.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Links Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
(M.D. Tenn.)
CJ-TN-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/17/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint
CJ-TN-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/11/2006
Motion to Reconsider Order Transferring Case
CJ-TN-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/12/2006
Order of Transfer (M.D. Tenn.)
CJ-TN-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/12/2006
Order [Granting Motion to Reconsider] (M.D. Tenn.)
CJ-TN-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2006
Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Little and Bell
CJ-TN-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2006
Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Little and Bell
CJ-TN-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2006
Memorandum [re: Motion to Dismiss] (2006 WL 1207611 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 28329) (M.D. Tenn.)
CJ-TN-0003-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/02/2006
Motion for Preliminary Injunction
CJ-TN-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2006
Memorandum [Granting Preliminary Injunction] (2006 WL 1454740 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 32319) (M.D. Tenn.)
CJ-TN-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/11/2006
[USCA Opinion Vacating Stay and Injunction] (181 Fed.Appx. 509)
CJ-TN-0003-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/12/2006
Source: Google Scholar
Order [Denying Petition] (447 F.3d 976)
CJ-TN-0003-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/16/2006
Memorandum [Granting Motion to Dismiss] (2006 WL 1697207 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 42680) (M.D. Tenn.)
CJ-TN-0003-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/14/2006
[USCA Opinion] (186 Fed.Appx. 604)
CJ-TN-0003-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/24/2006
Source: Google Scholar
Order [Denying Petition] (452 F.3d 621)
CJ-TN-0003-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/27/2006
Source: Google Scholar
Certiorari Denied (Supreme Court) (548 U.S. 921)
CJ-TN-0003-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/27/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Batchelder, Alice Moore Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0011 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Boggs, Danny Julian Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0011 | CJ-TN-0003-0012 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Clay, Eric L. Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Cole, Ransey Guy Jr. Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Cook, Julian Abele Jr. Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Daughtrey, Martha Craig Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Gilman, Ronald Lee Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Griffin, Richard Allen Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Martin, Boyce Ficklen Jr. Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
McKeague, David William Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Moore, Karen Nelson Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Rogers, Henry Wade Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Ryan, James Leo Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0011
Sutton, Jeffrey S. Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0015
Trauger, Aleta Arthur Court not on record
CJ-TN-0003-0001 | CJ-TN-0003-0003 | CJ-TN-0003-0004 | CJ-TN-0003-0005 | CJ-TN-0003-0006 | CJ-TN-0003-0007 | CJ-TN-0003-0008 | CJ-TN-0003-0013 | CJ-TN-0003-0014 | CJ-TN-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bottei , Paul R. (Tennessee)
CJ-TN-0003-0002 | CJ-TN-0003-0003 | CJ-TN-0003-0004 | CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0011 | CJ-TN-0003-0013 | CJ-TN-0003-0014 | CJ-TN-0003-0015 | CJ-TN-0003-9000
Henry , Kelley J. (Tennessee)
CJ-TN-0003-0002 | CJ-TN-0003-0003 | CJ-TN-0003-0004
Minton, Christopher M. (Tennessee)
CJ-TN-0003-0002 | CJ-TN-0003-0003 | CJ-TN-0003-0004
Swift, Gretchen L. (Tennessee)
CJ-TN-0003-0002 | CJ-TN-0003-0003 | CJ-TN-0003-0004
Defendant's Lawyers Hudson , Mark Alexis (Tennessee)
CJ-TN-0003-0007 | CJ-TN-0003-0008 | CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0011 | CJ-TN-0003-0014 | CJ-TN-0003-0015 | CJ-TN-0003-9000
Whalen , Joseph F. III (Tennessee)
CJ-TN-0003-0007 | CJ-TN-0003-0008 | CJ-TN-0003-0010 | CJ-TN-0003-0011 | CJ-TN-0003-0014 | CJ-TN-0003-0015 | CJ-TN-0003-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -