Can grandparents get court ordered visitation to see their grandchildren?

Under certain circumstances, yes.  The first question is whether one of the following conditions applies:

(1) The father or mother of an unmarried minor child is deceased;

(2) The child’s father and mother are divorced or legally separated, or were never married to each other;

(3) The child’s father or mother has been missing for not less that six months;

(4) The court of another state has ordered grandparent visitation.

(5) The child resided in the home of the grandparent for a period of twelve (12) months or more and was subsequently removed from the home by the parent or parents;

(6) The child and the grandparent maintained a significant existing relationship for a period of twelve (12) months or more immediately preceding severance of the relationship, this relationship was severed by the parent or parents for reasons other than abuse or presence of a danger of substantial harm to the child, and severance of this relationship is likely to occasion substantial emotional harm to the child.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(a).

If one of the above conditions applies, the court will then decide whether the absence of grandparent visitation creates the danger of substantial harm to the child.  In making this determination, the court looks for:

(1) The child had such a significant existing relationship with the grandparent that loss of the relationship is likely to occasion severe emotional harm to the child;

(2) The grandparent functioned as a primary caregiver such that cessation of the relationship could interrupt provision of the daily needs of the child and thus occasion physical and emotional harm; or

(3) The child had a significant existing relationship with the grandparent and loss of the relationship presents the danger of other direct and substantial harm to the child.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(b)(1).

A “significant existing relationship” exists when:

(1) The child resided with the grandparent for at least six (6) consecutive months;

(2) The grandparent was a full-time caretaker for the child for a period of not less than six (6) consecutive months; or

(3) The grandparent had frequent visitation with the child who is the subject of the suit for a period of not less than one (1) year.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(b)(2).

Finally, if the court finds that the absence of grandparent visitation creates a danger of substantial harm to the child, the court will then determine whether grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child.  To do so, the court may consider but is not limited to the following factors:

(1) The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent and the role performed by the grandparent;

(2) The existing emotional ties of the child to the grandparent;

(3) The preference of the child if the child is determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference;

(4) The effect of hostility between the grandparent and the parent of the child manifested before the child, and the willingness of the grandparent, except in case of abuse, to encourage close relationship between the child and the parent or parents, or guardian or guardian of the child;

(5) The good faith of the grandparent in filing the petition;

(6) If the parents are divorced or separate, the time-sharing arrangement that exists between the parents with respect to the child;

(7) If one (1) parent is deceased or missing, the fact that the grandparents requesting visitation are the parents of the deceased or missing person;

(8) Any unreasonable deprivation of the grandparent’s opportunity to visit with the child by the child’s parents or guardian, including denying visitation of the minor child to the grandparent for a period exceeding ninety (90) days;

(9) Whether the grandparent is seeking to maintain a significant existing relationship with the child;

(10) Whether awarding grandparent visitation would interfere with the parent-child relationship; and

(11) Any court finding that the child’s parent or guardian is unfit.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-307.

Judge Benningfield’s vasectomy program was NOT eugenics

Sadly, Judge Benningfield’s opponents were successful in ending his lawful vasectomy order.  Apparently, drug addicted babies are okay with them as long as they can virtue signal online that they stopped a eugenics program.  Here is one of the comments to the Washington Post article (cited above):

“The state of Tennessee should make this Nazi judge the following offer: You can keep your job if YOU ‘volunteer’ for a vasectomy.

Otherwise kick him to the curb.

It would be interesting to know how many of these alleged ‘drug addicts’ were in jail for simple marijuana possession. Would people’s assessment of this case be different if the inmates involved were in jail for drunkeness?

If so, what would the rationale be for treating the two drug offenders differently? Logic certainly won’t work, since alcohol is a far more dangerous and debilitating drug than marijuana.

This is how fascism grows. Pass some emotion-driven, irrational law that is then enforced in a discriminatory fashion, and then keep piling on one disproportionate penalty upon another until one has totally decimated the target demographic.

I think the same offer should be made to the many Republican commenters supporting this judge’s order. ‘Volunteer’ to be sterilized or lose your job. You certainly aren’t making the world a better place.

With regards to the commenters who don’t like the use of the Nazi label for this judge see the following link to better inform yourself about the history of these sterilization practices:…

This case is a prime example of why sane people consider Republicans to be evil.”

Nails on a chalkboard.  These people are jumping over themselves to declare Judge Benningfield a Nazi, a slavery supporter, etc.  Godwin’s law has never felt more applicable.

Make no mistake.  They bring up Nazis and slavery because they don’t have a good argument.  As noted previously, Judge Benningfield’s order was constitutional.  There was no American law that directly opposed his order.  That’s why Judge Benningfield’s opponents had to cite to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  Cute.  Let me know when the United States cedes sovereignty to the United Nations.

Even if it mattered, Judge Benningfield’s order complied with the Rome Statute. The statute prohibits “enforced sterilization.”  Enforced sterilization is the forcible sterilization of an ethnic group as part of a systematic attack against that ethnic group.  Judge Benningfield’s order was not “forcible sterilization” but instead “encouraged sterilization,” or really, “optional sterilization.”  Moreover, the prisoners that chose to participate were not an ethnic group.  Finally, the order is not part of a systematic attack on that ethnic group.

Back on point, the order was not eugenics.  It did not distinguish between rich and poor, intelligent and stupid, beautiful and ugly.  The point of the program was not to remove less desirable genes from the gene pool.  It was simply to lower the number of drug addicted babies being born in White County.  Drug addiction ≠ genetics.

Sadly, drug addicted babies don’t matter much when people have the chance to score some social justice points and pretend they are fighting Nazis.

You can’t remove a juror just because she’s black

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals granted a Bedford County defendant a new trial after determining that the prosecutor improperly challenged a juror simply because she was black.  During jury selection, the prosecutor asked whether anyone had a “relative or somebody that has a drug problem.”  Ten jurors – nine white and one black – answered yes, but the prosecutor only struck the black juror.

When asked why he struck the black juror, the prosecutor answered, “[the juror had] a family problem with drugs.  That could be people that have used drugs; that could be people in the distribution of drugs.”  In reviewing his explanation, the court of criminal appeals noted that the prosecutor never actually asked about the distribution of drugs.  Thus, his response was at best questionable.  Given the prosecutor’s answer was less than credible and he did not strike any similarly situated white jurors, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the defendant’s convictions and ordered a new trial.

State of Tennessee v. Tommy Lee Collins, Jr., No. M2015-01030-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. May 16, 2017)


President Trump’s Transgender Ban Is Constitutional

Caitlyn Jenner can use President Trump’s bathroom, but s/he cannot serve in his military.  In the modern day equivalent of a fireside chat, the President tweeted, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”  The President’s transgender ban immediately created a firestorm, with almost triple the number of normal retweets and numerous articles and statements about the issue.

The transgender ban is controversial; it is also constitutional.  As Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, the President has broad power to control the U.S. Military.  For example, President Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy stayed on the books until December 2010.  More to the point, President Barack Obama kept the transgender ban in place for nearly all of his Presidency.

Unsurprisingly, the ACLU opposes the ban.  Expect them to press the issue until a federal judge somewhere, and thereafter the Ninth Circuit, finds a right to gender expression in the Constitution.  However, given Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and Kennedy are in their eighties, the ACLU had better move quickly.  President Trump’s next pick will likely swing the Court away from finding rights that didn’t exist a year ago.

Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals orders a new sentencing hearing

On July 24, 2017, the Tennessee Court of Criminal ordered a new sentencing hearing in a Montgomery County aggravated assault case.  Tennessee Code Annotated provides mitigating factors, enhancement factors, purposes, and principles for a trial court to consider in sentencing.  Because the trial court in this case failed to state the relevant findings of fact and conclusions of law in determining the length and manner of service of the defendant’s sentence, the court of criminal appeals remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing.

State of Tennessee v. Claude David Powers, No. M2016-02019-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. July 24, 2017)