State Appeals Archives

Cyntoia Brown to serve 51 years before eligible for parole

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that sentencing juvenile offenders to life in prison without the possibility of parole violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments. The court had previously ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional when applied to juvenile defendants.

His conviction was based on junk science. Will he be released?

In 1992, 24-year-old Lorie Lee Lance was killed in a house fire in Old Hickory, Tennessee. Claude Francis Garrett, Lance's boyfriend, was accused of setting the fire. Although he swore he was innocent, an arson investigator claimed that a set of large, irregular burns in the living room represented a "pour pattern" indicating the use of a liquid accelerant. A large container of kerosene was found in the home, which Garrett claims was used in a kerosene heater.

Blood-spatter expert in murder case admits his analysis was wrong

There have been developments in the case of Joe B., a former high school principal who was convicted of his wife's 1985 murder based largely upon bloodstain-pattern evidence that has now been discredited. Now 78 and in frail health, Joe is hoping for a new trial.

Court of Criminal Appeals rules roadblock unlawful, overturns DUI

There are certain rules law enforcement must follow when setting up sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks, but the Tennessee highway patrol failed to follow them in a 2012 roadblock in Harris County. Therefore, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals found the roadblock unconstitutional and vacated the DUI conviction of a Chattanooga man who was caught up in it.

Justice Dept challenges Tennessee's rule on exculpatory evidence

In the 1963 case of Brady v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Constitution requires prosecutors to hand over to the defense any evidence that tends to prove the defendant's innocence. When they do not and the defendant is convicted, their failure or refusal to do so can result in a new trial.

Commission: Forensic evidence in murder case was 'entirely wrong'

When it comes to blood-spatter analysis, "expert" witnesses for the prosecution are often law enforcement officers with just a week of training. This was so in the case of Joe B., a high school principal accused of murdering his wife. He was convicted in 1985 based on flecks of blood on a flashlight found in his car, which a detective convinced a jury came from his wife. Now, the Texas Forensic Science Commission has concluded that the analysis was "not accurate or scientifically supported" and, in fact, "entirely wrong."

Understanding appellate court: your second chance at freedom

Being arrested on a criminal charge is a frightening experience. If you've been arrested and then convicted it is considerably worse. When your time in court is said and done, and the judge has rendered a guilty verdict, it may be time for you to make an appeal.

If your bail is completely unaffordable, is it 'excessive'?

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits "excessive bail." Over time, courts have made numerous rulings on what constitutes "excessive," but our country still finds itself in the midst of a bail crisis.

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
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