State Appeals Archives

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.

Court of Criminal Appeals rules DUI testing fees unconstitutional

In Tennessee, people who are convicted of DUI after a blood or breath test are required to pay the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, which performs those tests, a $250 fee. People who are not convicted are not required to pay the fee. The state's Court of Criminal Appeals recently found that to be unconstitutional because it sets up an apparent conflict of interest and calls the trustworthiness of the test results into question.

State high court: Field sobriety tests inadmissible for pot DUI

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has ruled that field sobriety tests are not an appropriate measure for whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Although the ruling doesn't apply directly in Tennessee, it could be influential because it involved a review of the current science on accurately detecting marijuana intoxication.

A search warrant can't be based on hunch suspect owns cellphone

In order to be legal, a search warrant must be based on probable cause. In other words, the officers seeking the warrant need to document a good reason to believe that evidence of criminal activity is likely to be found in a particular location.

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