RaDonda Vaught provides guidance on those offering letters of support
If you would like to help, you can write a letter for the judge at my public sentencing hearing on Friday, May 13th at 9am. Ironically, that falls during Nurses Week and is the day after the Million Nurse March. (Info for coming in person is at the end of these instructions).
I would ask that you please read the following instructions completely prior to writing your letter, there are many important details to consider… please, read them all carefully and completely prior to writing your letter!
Two types of letters would be appropriate, depending on whether you know me or not:
CHARACTER LETTERS for those who know me; for those who do not, a professional letter addressing the impact of this case and sentencing.
HANDWRITTEN if possible, I believe it will more accurately display the vast degree of personal impact that the outcome of this verdict has had on each of you as individuals and the impact her ruling of sentencing will also have on each of you individually.
All letters should be mailed directly to me:
P.O. Box 128
Bethpage, TN 37033
NOTE FROM THE TRUTH ABOUT NURSING: Since it is getting late, unless you can overnight your letter, please use our form to email a letter–we will collect them all and forward them to RaDonda’s attorneys before the sentencing. Thank you.
Peter (my lawyer) gave me a great format to follow, see the very end of these instructions… A similar one can be found online here: https://thelawdictionary.org/article/best-way-to-write-a-professional-letter-to-a-judge/ https://thelawdictionary.org/article/best-way-to-write-a-good-character-witness-statement/
Judge Smith’s information for addressing her in this letter can be found here, but please mail the actual letter directly to me. Let’s not overwhelm her office. I can have them all submitted to the court for consideration at one time. ALSO, Judge Smith does not work for the DA, nor is she responsible in any way for their presentation and prosecution of this case nor the jury’s verdict. She is responsible for presiding over the court proceedings and she will ultimately be responsible for my sentencing. Please be considerate and respectful towards her, and the process over which she presides in your letters.
ADDITIONALLY: Please do not disrespect the DA or the assistant general district attorneys. We don’t need to stoop to their level to make a point. We are a community of healthcare PROFESSIONALS & our actions need to indicate that… remember, this whole case is about Just Culture, where our actions and doing the right thing speak louder than our words.
You can be professionally critical of the contributing systemic issues, your concerns of impact on patient safety, and your concerns of how Tennessee law was violated in the release of protected documents (specifically my very detailed 4 page incident report, which was to be protected by law-see the links for the statues below regarding reporting, as well as patient safety and quality improvement) but again, please keep it respectful & classy.
Tennessee Code Annotated 68-11-211
Tennessee Code Annotated 68-11-272
Tennessee Code Annotated 63-1-150
Honorable Judge Jennifer L. Smith
Davidson County Criminal Court Division IV
Re: RaDonda Vaught Case No: 2019-A-76
Honorable Judge Smith,
For Character Letters, 1st paragraph should identify yourself, what you do for a living and how you know me. See these tips: https://thelawdictionary.org/article/best-way-to-write-a-good-character-witness-statement/
and these: https://thelawdictionary.org/article/best-way-to-write-a-professional-letter-to-a-judge/
The remaining balance of the letter should include the positive attributes possessed by me. Any individual stories are welcome.
Keep the politics out of it and keep it classy!
Your phone number
Sentencing hearing on May 13, 2022 @ 9am:
The Justice A.A. Birch Building is located at:
408 2nd Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37122
Parking is located underground at
Public Square Parking
101 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville TN 37122
The sentencing hearing will be held in courtroom 6D (6th floor).
NO SIGNS INSIDE THE COURTHOUSE.
NO PROTESTING INSIDE THE COURTHOUSE.
Cellphones ARE allowed, as are snacks and plastic drink containers (NO metal).
The courthouse doors are generally opened shortly after 7am, even though the website indicates it opens at 8am. I would recommend getting there to get through security prior to 8am.
3 thoughts on “Message from RaDonda Vaught”
I am praying for u.
Below is the letter I emailed today in support of RaDonda Vaught. As a nurse for 50 years, I am heartsick about what is happening to her as a result of a reported medication error.
Honorable Judge Smith,
I have been a nurse for 50 years and in that 50 years, I have made mistakes providing patient care, including medication errors. I could be the one sitting in RaDonda Vaught’s seat right now. I made a drug error on an elderly patient one time as we prepared him for surgery. He died about a week after the surgery. I will never know if my error hastened his death or was even related to it.
Humans are going to make mistakes. Nurses are human. No one does everything with 100% accuracy. Holding a nurse liable for an error that was made and reported in good faith is going to result in many more such cases if nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals are criminally charged as the result of a single error.
In their landmark publication “To Err is Human,” the Institute of Medicine reported thousands of people die from medical errors each year. In 2020, the Institute of Medicine estimated that 98,000 people die annually in the United States as a result of medical error. While the number is discouraging, it points out that RaDonda Vaught’s case is not an isolated incident. If everyone who made an error was held criminally liable, I do not think we would see a lessening of numbers but rather fewer people entering healthcare professions.
Our United States healthcare system has undergone a revolutionary change from blaming a single individual for a mistake to creating a Just Culture, where errors are examined for how they happened and how to prevent them from happening again. A Just Culture does not blame individuals because we have discovered when that happens, people are less likely to disclose their errors, which allows them to be repeated. An error most often occurs when there is understaffing, fatigue, a process that needs improvement, or for a multitude of other reasons.
Please Your Honor, consider what I have written when handing down RaDonda Vaught’s sentence.
Honorable Judge Smith,
My name is Maria A. Gonzalez RN. I have been a nurse for close to three decades. I am currently the Chief Nursing Officer in a New York rural hospital. I have never met my fellow nurse RaDonda Vaught; however, I have followed this case and as a nurse leader, I can attest to the challenges and risks associated with the profession.
It would be an understatement to say that our health care system is far from perfect; nevertheless, in school, nurses learned that transparency, disclosure and honesty are all necessary for quality improvement and RaDonda Vaught adhered to that standard.
This case has drawn international attention. Everyday nurses all over the world, go to work motivated by caring and compassion. We try to do the best possible even in the worst situations, but we are not perfect. A precious life was cut short, and RaDonda will forever carry the burden of this loss. Because RaDonda’ honesty and transparency the hospital (where the incident happened) was able to establish mitigation strategies to prevent similar errors, but the nurse was left to stand alone in front of our judiciary system.
I pray that there is clemency for RaDonda Vaught and for a profession that embodies compassion and caring.
Maria A Gonzalez RN CNO