Grundy County’s Most Wanted

The Grundy County Herald reports that the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office has released its nine most wanted.  According to the paper, the list includes:

Della Fults, Capias; Charles Randall Baskin, Violation of Probation; Jon Herman Hobbs, Violation of Probation; Jeremy E. Kreps, Parole Violation; Anthony Wayne Layne, Capias; Ronald W. Kinary, Violation of Community Corrections; Dennis Dewayne Anderson, Violation of Community Corrections, Gregory Bryant Shadrick, Capias; and Dale E. Callahan, Violation of Community Corrections.

If you’re wanted by the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office, please contact an attorney as soon as possible.

The Boils Wildlife Management Area in Jackson County Continues to be Vandalized

The Herald Citizen reports that, for three consecutive summers, people have vandalized the Boils Wildlife Management Area in Jackson County, Tennessee.  The vandalism includes damage to signs and the parking lot, littering, theft, and the destruction of habitat. Not only are these actions costly to taxpayers but they also harm wildlife, including fish and other aquatic creatures.

As a defense attorney, I understand that the people doing this probably are not bad people.  They are most likely kids that don’t understand the damage they are causing.  Thus, I encourage everyone to talk to their friends and family about the importance of maintaining our wilderness areas.  Perhaps, if people understood the effect that these actions have on wildlife, they would be more thoughtful next time they visit the park.

DUI Blood Results Suppressed Because Blood Drawn in the Wrong County

Like the Utah nurse in the news for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient, Lewis County has a nurse willing to protect the rights of his patients.

In the case, the arresting officer obtained a search warrant to draw the defendant’s blood in Lewis County, Tennessee.  Specifically, the warrant commanded the officer to “take custody of the suspect and transport the suspect to a person qualified to draw blood in Lewis County.”  Further, the jurisdiction of the magistrate that signed the warrant was limited to Lewis County.  See Tenn. R. Crim. P. 41(a) (“A magistrate with jurisdiction in the county where the property is located may issue a search warrant authorized by this rule.”).  Given the above, the trial court concluded (and the appellate court agreed) that the search was limited to Lewis County.

However, after a Lewis County nurse refused to take the defendant’s blood, the officer had the defendant’s blood drawn in Perry County, Tennessee, by a nurse that was not qualified to draw blood in Lewis County.  Thus, the search was unconstitutional.

Despite the officer’s actions, the State tried to save the search through (1) exigent circumstances and (2) the good faith exception.  First, the State argued that a “recalcitrant nurse” created the exigent circumstances, i.e., the loss of alcohol in the blood.  The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, however, strongly rejected the State’s contention that the nurse was recalcitrant:

We disagree with the State’s characterization of Mr. Lineberry as “recalcitrant.” While Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406 lists those who are authorized to draw the blood of someone accused of a drunken driving related offense, neither this statute nor any other Tennessee statute compels medical personnel to forcibly draw a suspect’s blood whenever requested by an officer to do so. It has been recognized that multiple ethical and safety concerns arise from a forcible blood draw by medical personnel. See, e.g. Jacob M. Appel, Nonconsensual Blood Draws and Dual Loyalty: When Bodily Integrity Conflicts with the Public Health, 17 J. Health Care L. & Pol’y 129, 149-54 (2014); E. John Wherry, Jr., DWI Blood Alcohol Testing: Responding to a Proposal Compelling Medical Personnel to Withdraw Blood, 18 Seton Hall Legis. J. 655, 657, 670-71 (1994). Moveover, medical personnel should not be threatened, coerced, or intimidated into delay treating a sick or injured patient in order to forcibly draw the blood from a suspected drunk driver, who is uninjured and was not involved in an accident, for the sole purpose of assisting the officer in securing evidence. Given the safety and ethical concerns and the primary purpose of medical facilities to treat those who are sick and injured, a policy by a medical facility to decline to engage in forcible blood draws is reasonable. Contrary to the State’s characterization of Mr. Lineberry as “recalcitrant,” the evidence established that Mr. Lineberry was simply doing his job and complying with the medical facility’s policy.

Moreover, the court noted that the officer did not (1) contact the Lewis County medical facility before arriving or (2) attempt to locate anyone else in Lewis County qualified to draw blood.  Finally, it was not clear whether the defendant had reached the level of “complete absorption.”  If he had not reached the level of complete absorption, his BAC would have been increasing instead of decreasing.  Based on the foregoing, the appellate court rejected the State’s exigent circumstances argument.

The State then argued that the good faith exception applied.  However, the good faith exception does not apply to violations of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions.  Since the officer violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court’s suppression of the blood draw.

State v. Nunnery, No. M2016-01932-CCA-R9-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. July 13, 2017).


Prosecutor’s use of rap lyrics during closing argument leads to new trial

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a first degree murder conviction because the prosecutor quoted lyrics from a rap song on the defendant’s social media page (after the trial court told him not to do so).  Note, these were not lyrics the defendant wrote.  Rather, these lyrics were from a song the defendant merely posted to social media.  Here is what the prosecutor said:

I don’t know if this is going to come as a surprise, but I really like rap music, I always have, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, now Drake and some others, and I have them because of the artistry of that music form can transport me to places that I don’t know about. They can describe with vivid, even brutality, things that are foreign to my experience, things that I don’t know about. There are obviously like any song anywhere in the world, there are good things, songs about good things and songs about bad things, there are songs that don’t have anything to do with rap about good things and bad things, it’s the difference between Good Vibrations and Folsom Prison Blues. It’s the difference between Nothing but a G thing and a song about somebody getting killed. But music can take us to a different place and it can explain things that we have a hard time explaining ourselves. There’s a local rapper who doesn’t . . . have anything to do with this case, it’s just I heard it, he’s local, and describe this lyric. And it’s got some rough language and I apologize it says, “N-—s wanna play, so they going down. N—-s wanna beef, so I cut em down. When you see me, you better move around unless you want to duk down.” That’s why you drive an orange car. That’s why you get your little man to do it for you. “If you see me, you better move around.” Three o’clock in the afternoon on a Thursday, don’t matter, bunch of people, I’ll get ya, I’m gonna be feared, I’m to be respected, and so when you get caught up, you won’t put my name in it, you’ll put the name in it of the two dead guys. It is something incomprehensible, but we know that there are rough men out there ready to do violence, and they do violence when people fear them. It still doesn’t give us a good reason why. It is cold comfort to [the victim’s family].

Where to begin…  Granted, “N—– wanna beef, so I cut em down” is a bit more violent than the prosecutor’s “good things” song, Nothing but a G thing.  After all, “Nothing but a G thing” only advocates smacking bitches that talk shit and pimpin’ hoes.  Still, the “Nothing but a G thing” example wrecks his entire argument.  This prosecutor wasn’t advocating domestic violence and human trafficking by his endorsement of a 90s hit song.  He just overlooked those violent parts and bobbed his head like most people that listen to rap music.  However, I guess this rule only applies to well-educated white people.  If you’re a poor black person from the inner city, you must mean it.

To use legalese, the prosecutor inflamed the passions or prejudices of the jury by quoting these rap lyrics.

New trial.

State v. Sharpe, No. M2015-00927-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 2, 2016)