Tennessee’s Sergeant Daniel Baker Act sheds some light on the appeal process for defendants who are convicted of an offense that results in capital punishment. I am attorney Patrick T. McNally, and I understand how this Act, which went into effect on August 1, 2019, may help speed up the appeals process in certain death penalty cases. The Overton County News provides you with a brief synopsis on how the Volunteer State passed a handful of new anti-crime laws, which may help defendants seeking to appeal a serious conviction.

The Act is named after Sgt. Daniel Baker who was fatally shot in Dickson County while engaged in the line of duty. The deputy’s body-cam was recovered, and it detailed the series of events that led up to his death. Two defendants were arrested and indicted on a first-degree murder charge. They each face the death penalty if convicted.

With the passage of Sgt. Baker’s Act, a defendant that is convicted of a first-degree murder charge and sentenced to death may appeal their case through the state’s new expedited procedure. Instead of going through the process with the criminal court of appeals, a defendant may now request that the Tennessee Supreme Court conduct an automatic direct review. During a direct review, the court may first investigate to see if there were any errors that occurred in the legal process of convicting the defendant. After this step, the court may then review the defendant’s sentence and its related circumstances.

My page on appellate law provides more information on what you might expect during the appeals process.