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State Appeals Archives

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.

Prosecutorial misconduct leads to overturned murder conviction

A man who has been serving time since 1995 for the murder of a drug dealer has been released with his conviction overturned by a judge. That judge found evidence of serious prosecutorial misconduct that made his trial and conviction unfair. The district attorney's office is appealing the decision.

Proof of unscientific hair analysis gets 40-year inmate released

Ledura Watkins was convicted of the 1975 murder of a 25-year-old woman during a home robbery. The only evidence against Watkins was a single hair found on the scene, which police analysts had tied to him using a technique that has since been discredited by the FBI. With the help of the Innocence Project at the Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School, Watkins is now free.

What makes for a good state court appeal?

Although criminal procedures are intended to produce justice, the justice system, like all areas of life, is susceptible to human error. For that reason, our Tennessee law firm has always maintained that criminal appeals should be regarded as an essential aspect of the system, not merely a last ditch effort.

Does money improve your chances of a fair criminal outcome?

Getting a fair day in criminal court is the constitutional right of all Americans. However, getting offered the best plea deal is not. According to a recent article, a criminal defendant’s financial resources might affect the outcome of any negotiations with prosecutors.

Are Tennessee drug sentences appropriate to the crimes?

A recent article questioned the appropriateness of penalties for drug possession for personal use. The question affects more people than readers might realize: An American is arrested every 25 seconds for possession of personal use drugs. Although officials may claim that their enforcement efforts target those who sell drugs, those who possess drugs are arrested at rates four times greater than seller arrest rates.

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
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