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.
What is ineffective assistance of counsel in a criminal case? Thanks to the Sixth Amendment and associated court rulings, criminal defendants are entitled to the assistance of counsel -- and that counsel is to be effective. However, the standards for determining when counsel has been constitutionally ineffective are hard to meet.
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.
It is sad that many people who get accused of crimes in the Nashville area wind up getting convicted even if they did not commit the crime or, legally speaking, they were "not guilty."
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.
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.
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.
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.
If a jury convicts someone and the court later learns that one juror's vote was based entirely on racial animus, should the conviction be overturned? Traditionally, the answer has been no. Appellate courts have long held that what happens in the jury room, for the most part, stays in the jury room.
A former Murfreesboro City Schools band teacher recently sought to appeal certain evidence admitted in his criminal case. The denial of that request for an appeal of a sex crime conviction sends a cautionary note.