State Senate passes bills to help crime victims and families

State Senate passes bills to help crime victims and families

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NASHVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee State Senate passed two bills Thursday, aimed to help crime victims and their families, like those of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom, from being further victimized by the court process.

The bills were sponsored by Senators Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) andKen Yager (R-Harriman) and Representative Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville).

Christian and Newsom were carjacked, raped, tortured and murdered in 2007. The five defendants were tried and found guilty, but because the presiding judge was found guilty of taking illegal narcotics during the trials, retrials were ordered.

The presiding judge, Richard Baumgartner, had verbally accepted the verdicts, but did not sign a routine form accepting the jury's decision before being removed from the bench. The successor judge decided he could not sign it, even though he found no errors in the trials.

The bills' sponsors said this process put the families through unnecessary pain and suffering during the second set of trials.

SenateBill 1796, which applies to a successor judge in a case, creates a presumption that the presiding judge is presumed to have completed his duties once he or she accepts the verdict of the jury.

SenateBill 1797 puts new restrictions on bringing into evidence presumptionsor false information that are related to the victim that is totally unrelatedto the crime.

The bills must now be approved in the House ofRepresentatives and signed by the governor before becoming law.

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