Grounds for a state appeal may extend beyond the criminal trial

Can someone charged with a violent crime get a fair appeal? Procedural due process should be afforded to all criminal defendants. Yet a Tennessee woman’s predicament illustrates the challenges in bringing such an appeal.

The woman was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, relating to the deaths of her infant twins. That conviction was based, in part, on a videotaped confession that authorities obtained from the woman before her arrest.

The woman’s attorney asserted that the videotape should not have been admitted into evidence because his client did not have an attorney present, nor had she been read her rights. In contrast, the officers claimed they had read the woman her rights, but that she had wanted to keep confessing. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals apparently agreed with the authorities’ account of the record, as it rejected the woman’s appeal for a new trial.

As a law firm that has helped many clients with criminal appeals, we know that tainted or overly prejudicial evidence can be the tipping point in a criminal trial. Regardless of whether the appeal is of the conviction or the sentence, a thorough review of the arrest and trial record will be required.

Our law firm will scour the record, looking for reversible errors at every stage. That review begins from the moment the accused encountered police authorities. As in the allegations in this case, police may not have protected an individual’s rights. Such mistakes can have a direct and prejudicial effect on the outcome, hindering an individual’s ability even to mount a strategic criminal defense.

Source:  Times Free Press, “Tennessee court upholds conviction of mother in newborn twins' death,” July 13 2016

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
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