Gainsboro man arrested for allegedly having sex in a bathroom at the Putnam County Fair

The Herald Citizen reports that the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department has arrested a Gainsboro man for having sex in a bathroom at the Putnam County Fair. Reportedly, a deputy told the couple to come out after observing “the feet of a man and a woman beneath one of the stalls.”   Interestingly, the woman was not named in the warrants for the man’s arrest nor is it stated in the story that she was arrested.

Regardless, the man is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.  Disorderly conduct occurs when:

(a) A person commits an offense who, in a public place and with the intent to cause public annoyance or alarm:

(1) Engages in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior;

(2) Refuses to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard or other emergency; or

(3) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by an act that serves no legitimate purpose.

(b) A person also violates this section who makes unreasonable noise that prevents others from carrying on lawful activities. 

T.C.A. § 39-17-305.  Disorderly conduct is a C misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine.

Based on the fact that the woman wasn’t arrested, I’m guessing the defendant’s disorderly conduct charge is for either “violent behavior,” i.e., recoiling from the deputy, or “threatening behavior,” i.e., repeatedly reach in his pockets.

For fun, let’s assume the State charged him with disorderly conduct for having sex in the fair bathroom.  Did the man want to “cause public annoyance and alarm” or did he have a simpler goal in mind?  Also, could we really say the sex had no legitimate purpose?  As the ACLU loves to remind us, procreation is a fundamental right.  How dare the State tell us that sex is not a legitimate purpose!

Then again, maybe there was “unreasonable noise” that prevented others from “carrying on lawful activities,” such as using the bathroom.  That would be enough to convict him.  However, the witness testimony could get a bit interesting.  “How did the noise affect you?”  “It gave me a severe case of stage fright.”  But wouldn’t loud noises actually help stage fright… This hypothetical has obviously gone on for too long.

Practically speaking, if the guy had just put his clothes on and left the fair, he probably wouldn’t have been charged with anything, at least anything that would stick.

Putnam County jury convicts Cookeville man of aggravated robbery and burglary

A Putnam County jury recently convicted a Cookeville man of aggravated robbery and burglary.  Reportedly, the crimes stemmed from a dispute over property that the defendant left at an apartment he previously rented.  The Herald Citizen reports that the landlord told the new tenant he could use the defendant’s property because, since the defendant still owed rent, the items were no longer the defendant’s.  Allegedly, the defendant and his father came to the apartment one evening, held a screwdriver to the victim’s head, and took the defendant’s property and the victim’s property.

A person commits burglary when he, without the effective consent of the property owner:

(1) Enters a building other than a habitation (or any portion thereof) not open to the public, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault;

(2) Remains concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault, in a building;

(3) Enters a building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault; or

(4) Enters any freight or passenger car, automobile, truck, trailer, boat, airplane or other motor vehicle with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault or commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.

T.C.A. § 39-14-402.  (1)-(3) are Class D felonies.  (4) is a Class E felony.

An aggravated burglary is a burglary of a habitation.  T.C.A. § 39-14-403.  It is a Class C felony.  A “habitation” means:

(A) Means any structure, including buildings, module units, mobile homes, trailers, and tents, which is designed or adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons;

(B) Includes a self-propelled vehicle that is designed or adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons and is actually occupied at the time of initial entry by the defendant; and

(C) Includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle;

T.C.A. § 39-14-401.

Lawyer in Cookeville, TN

As an attorney that practices in Cookeville, Tennessee, it’s important to know about the local court system.  Here is useful information about the courts in Putnam County, Tennessee.

The Criminal Court Judges are The Honorable David Patterson and The Honorable Gary McKenzie.  Judge Patterson has served the 13th Judicial District as judge for eleven years.  Previously, he was an Assistant District Attorney for sixteen years.  Judge McKenzie was elected to the bench in 2014.  Before joining the bench, he served as a Deputy District Attorney and as a JAG Officer.  Their contact information is:

The Honorable David Patterson
321 East Spring Street, Suite 305
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 525-1699 (P)

The Honorable Gary McKenzie
321 East Spring Street, Suite 303
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 528-1114 (P)

The Circuit Court Judges are The Honorable Amy Hollars and The Honorable Jonathan Young.  Governor Phil Bredesen appointed Judge Hollars to the bench in 2009.  As an undergraduate, she graduated first in her class from the University of the South.  As a law student, she was Order of the Coif at the University of Tennessee College of Law.  Judge Young was elected in 2014.  Before joining the bench, he was a partner at Cameron and Young.  Their contact information is:

The Honorable Amy Hollars
1010 East Main Street
P.O. Box 68
Livingston, TN 38570
(931) 823-6453 (P)

The Honorable Jonathan Lee Young
321 East Spring Street, Suite 302
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 526-6692 (P)

The Chancellor is The Honorable Ron Thurman.  Chancellor Thurman was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2014.  Before serving on the bench, he practiced law for 23 years in private practice.  His contact information is:

The Honorable Ronald Thurman
321 East Spring Street, Suite 307
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 526-2105 (P)

The General Sessions Judges are The Honorable John Hudson and The Honorable Steve Qualls.  Both judges had distinguished careers before joining the bench.  Before the people of Putnam County elected Judge Hudson, he served as Regional Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Human Services.  Similarly, Judge Qualls was a practicing attorney for eighteen years and a municipal judge for seven years before being elected as general sessions judge.   Their contact information is:

The Honorable John Hudson
421 East Spring Street, Room C-07
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 528-5541

The Honorable Steven D. Qualls
421 East Spring Street, Room C-07
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 528-5541

The District Attorney is General Bryant Dunaway.  General Dunaway is a former police officer that has been serving in his current position since 2014.  The Assistant District Attorneys in Putnam County are Generals Beth Willis, Victor Gernt, and James Hargis.  Their office number is (931) 528-5015 and their office is located at:

District Attorney’s Office
1519-A East Spring Street
Cookeville, TN 38506

The Public Defender is Craig Fickling.  Mr. Fickling has more than twenty-five years of legal experience.  His office number is (931) 526-9141 and his office is located at:

Public Defender’s Office
1420 Neal Street, Suite 202
Cookeville, TN 38501

The Circuit Court Clerk is Marcia Borys.  Her office number is (931) 528-1508 and her office is located at:

421 East Spring Street
Room 1C, Suite 49A
Cookeville, TN 38501

Cookeville man charged with 1st Degree Murder

This past Thursday, Ricky N. Murphy was shot to death on Scenic Drive in Cookeville, Tennessee.  The next day, the Cookeville Police Department arrested a 28-year-old man and charged him with first-degree-murder.  Allegedly, an argument between the two men escalated into a physical altercation and, ultimately, murder.  The defendant has a $3,000,000 bond.

First degree murder is a premeditated and intentional killing of another.  T.C.A. § 39-13-202.  According to the statute, “Premeditation means that the intent to kill must have been formed prior to the act itself.  It is not necessary that the purpose to kill preexist in the mind of the accused for any definite period of time.  The mental state of the accused at the time the accused allegedly decided to kill must be carefully considered in order to determine whether the accused was sufficiently free from excitement and passion as to be capable of premeditation.”

A jury is allowed to infer premeditation from the manner and circumstances of the killing.  State v. Bland, 958 S.W.2d 651, 660 (Tenn. 1997).  Circumstances that support a finding of premeditation include “declarations by the defendant of an intent to kill, evidence of procurement of a weapon, the use of a deadly upon an unarmed victim, the particular cruelty of the killing, infliction of multiple wounds, preparation before the killing for concealment of the crime, destruction or secretion of evidence of the murder, and calmness immediately after the killing.”  State v. Nichols, 24 S.W.3d 297, 302 (Tenn. 2000).  Also, the jury may infer premeditation from the “[e]stablishment of a motive for the killing.”  State v. Leach, 148 S.W.3d 42, 54 (Tenn. 2004).

If convicted, the defendant will be sentenced to:

(1) Death;

(2) Imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole; or

(3) Imprisonment for life.

T.C.A. § 39-13-202(c).

When facing serious charges like this, it is critical to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.  Small details can determine life or death.


B Felony Meth Charges Dismissed Because No Reasonable Suspicion for Stop

One of my clients faced up to 30 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine for a B Felony Meth charge. The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the charges. Why? The cop did not have reasonable suspicion to pull my client over. In most circumstances, the cops must have reasonable suspicion of a crime to stop you.

You do not have to talk to police during consensual encounters. In State v. Nicholson, 188 S.W.3d 649 (Tenn. 2006), the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned a conviction where the police were in a “high crime area” and wanted to have a “consensual” encounter with the defendant. Upon seeing the police, the defendant fled the “consensual” encounter and the police chased him down and arrested him.

In its decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that being in a high crime area and fleeing from a consensual encounter with police were not enough to stop a suspect. The Court reasoned that, while both facts were relevant to reasonable suspicion, given there are legitimate reasons to avoid talking to police in a high crime area, these two facts, alone, were not enough for reasonable suspicion.

In my client’s case, he did not even flee from the police. He slowly pulled away. And that is not enough for reasonable suspicion.

Case dismissed.