On July 15, Jeffery Frensley, a United States District Court magistrate judge in the Middle District of Tennessee, ordered Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz to restrict and delete comments that he made concerning CoreCivic, the non-profit, private prison company that runs Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville.
Horwitz is currently representing Gussie Newby, the mother of inmate Terry Childress, in a lawsuit against CoreCivic. Childress died in February of 2021 after being assaulted by his cellmate, leaving his family to question how and why this happened.
The $10-million lawsuit that was filed against the company alleges that understaffing at the prison contributed to Childress’s death as corrections officers were not regularly making rounds.
Since the 2016 opening of Tennessee’s newest and largest prison — Trousdale Turner Correctional Center — the facility has had public image and staffing issues, and Horwitz has been quick to point this out.
But regardless of CoreCivic’s wish that he remain silent, Horwitz has stood firmly on his beliefs that his comments are protected by the First Amendment as he referred to Trousdale Turner Correctional Center as a “hell hole” and CoreCivic as “cartoonishly evil.”
Though Horwitz argued that his comments were protected by the United States Constitution as free speech, Frensley disagreed.
In his response to the Vidette‘s request for comments, Horwitz responded by email, saying, “We will have no further comment until appellate review of Magistrate Frensley’s unconstitutional prior restraint is complete.”
Additionally, Public Affairs Manager for CoreCivic Matthew Davio responded by email saying, “I do not have (an exact) date, but the case is currently on the trial docket for next year and is expected to be heard by Judge Crenshaw.”
As well, Davio expressed concern that the comments made by Horwitz could potentially influence this case through the court of public opinion.
“We’ve always believed that the court of law, not the court of public opinion, is the appropriate forum to address legal matters, particularly regarding unproven allegations,” said Davio.
However, Horwitz maintains that he has a duty to advocate on his client’s behalf.