All Charges Dropped Against Jessie Wright, Erlanger Lifts Suspension

Warrants Were Issued After He Rushed Wife To Hospital

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Charges of traffic violations, evading arrest, assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and registration violation have been dismissed against Jessie Wright. These charges stem from the incident that occurred at Erlanger Hospital last Wednesday, just after midnight.

Hamilton County District Attorney General Bill Cox and Chattanooga Police Department Chief Mark Rawlston have reviewed the incident and concluded the necessity for Mr. Wright to reach the hospital with his wife was greater than the offenses for which he was charged and arrested.

At the direction of Chief Rawlston, the Internal Affairs Division will continue the Internal Affairs investigation and will also take a look at policy and procedures involving these types of incidents, supervisory responsibilities and training issues.

Officials said, "We deeply regret this incident has occurred and hope to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Wright at their earliest convenience to discuss the events of June 16."

Mr. Wright's suspension at Erlanger was also lifted, according to a statement released by the hospital.

Officials said, "At Erlanger, it is a matter of routine to suspend an employee once he/she has been charged with a felony offense. Circumstances surrounding that charge determine whether or not the employee returns to work. We investigate whether or not that felony charge could pose a potential threat to patients, visitors and/or staff.

"Based on Erlanger’s investigation of Mr. Wright’s felony charge, the decision was made Monday to lift his suspension. He has been notified of his lifted suspension and will be returning to work at Erlanger. He will also be paid for the only day he missed during his suspension."

Contacted Tuesday afternoon, concerning the defense of necessity, General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said, "The medical necessity defense is usually grounded in either a state's common law or general necessity defense statute.

"Regardless of its origin, the basis of the necessity defense is that society is sometimes willing to excuse or even justify conduct that would otherwise be illegal if that conduct was done to avoid an even worse or greater evil. This defense theory reflects society's understanding that external forces beyond a person's control sometimes place that person in an emergency situation where he or she must choose between the harm or 'evil' of breaking the criminal code or complying with the code and allowing an even greater harm or 'evil' to occur.

"In these situations, if a person violates the law in order to avoid the greater harm, the defense of necessity excuses the person from being guilty of what would otherwise be a crime.

"The elements of a necessity defense vary from state-to-state, and from the federal standard. Generally, the defense must show 1) that the defendant did not intentionally bring about the circumstance which caused the unlawful act; 2) that the defendant could not accomplish the same objective using a less offensive (i.e. "more legal") alternative available to the defendant; and 3) that the evil sought to be avoided was more heinous than the unlawful act perpetrated to avoid it.

"Under federal law, a defendant must establish the existence of four elements to be entitled to a necessity defense: 1) that he was faced with a choice of evils and chose the lesser evil; 2) that he acted to prevent imminent harm; 3) that he reasonably anticipated a causal relation between his conduct and the harm to be avoided; and 4) that there were no other legal alternatives to violating the law."

He cited Tennessee Code Annotated, section 39-11-609 which codifies the common law defense of “necessity.”

The statute reads: Except as provided in section 39-11-611, through 39-11-616, et. Al, conduct is justified if: (1)the person reasonably believes that the conduct is immediately necessary to avoid the imminent harm; and (2) the desirability and urgency of avoiding the harm clearly outweigh the harm sought to be prevented by the law proscribing the conduct, according to ordinary standards of reasonableness.

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