Christian & Newsom families help draft bills; includes drug screening for judges

(WBIR-Knoxville) The families of a Knoxville couple killed almost seven years ago are taking the law into their own hands, by trying to change it.

Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were raped, tortured and murdered in January 2007.

After years fighting for justice in the courtrooms, the parents of Channon and Chris are taking their battle to the state capital. For the first time, the families met with state lawmakers about drafting several bills.

On Thursday Gary Christian and Hugh and Mary Newsom met with Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and State Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, for almost three hours.

"I think it's important that our citizens have confidence in our justice system and it's pretty clear after what these two families have gone through that there are issues that need to be worked out," Rep. Haynes said.

With Leland Price, Knox County assistant district attorney general, they discussed drafting three bills.

One of those bills will focus on random drug testing for judges. The victims' families went through some of the trials twice because former Judge Richard Baumgartner was addicted to painkillers on the bench. He eventually went to federal prison and will finish his sentence next week from home.

"For somebody that is in charge and controlling something as important as our justice system, you'd think that they'd be susceptible to a drug screen," said Gary Christian, Channon's father.

Sen. McNally and Rep. Haynes will also present a bill clarifying a judge's role as a 13th juror, as well as a bill offering protection for the reputation of victims in the courtroom.

According to the families, the defense made false statements about the victims during a portion of the trials.

"It's just a cheap dirty trick that they tried and we're going to try to provide that the victims in a case have some protection and the lawyer and the defense lawyers can't just do that," Sen. McNally said.

Sen. McNally and Rep. Haynes will present the bills during the next legislative session, which starts in January.

Gary Christian plans to speak on the state Senate floor.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment