Saturday, January 30, 2010

Officer dies in crash

We mourn the loss of Franklin County Sheriff's Investigator Jerry Crabtree. He was a former Madison County, Alabama sheriff. He died in an auto accident Friday afternoon, while on duty. Investigatory Crabtree, 76, served as a law enforcement officer for 54 years. May he rest in peace.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Teen driver gets 9 months for death of newlywed

WSMV reports that Judge Fishburn in Nashville has sentenced an impaired driver to serve 9 months of a 16 year sentence in jail.

The article opens with:

"Tears flowed freely and the sorrow was overwhelming in Judge Mark Fishburn's court Thursday. Wesley Ellis was 19 when the SUV he was driving ran a red light and hit a car, killing 24-year-old Jessica Paige Muller. He was convicted of vehicular homicide by intoxication.
Thursday, a year and a half later, Ellis learned his fate, but not before listening to heart-wrenching testimony from Muller's mother, Mary Paige, his own mother and Jessica's best friend, who was by her side as she drew her last breath."

The victim's mother made an interesting comment:

"I think the judge is being as stern as he can and as fair as he can with what the Legislature allows,"

The DA's were disappointed and had asked for 9 years according to the article. Ellis was out on bond for theft when he killed Mrs. Muller.

Applause for Jackson, Tennessee

Jackson, Tennessee has marked a year without a traffic fatality. The city of 57,000 people had 12 fatalities 4 years ago and got serious about traffic safety. Since then the fatalities dropped by three per year. They added red light cameras, a speed van and dedicated more officer time to watching traffic. They have an outstanding team that includes tough prosecution by General Woodall's office. Our DUI prosecutor Anna Banks has had numerous opportunities to show the people of her community that the crime of DUI will not be tolerated.
Congratulations to all involved in this great news.

Read more at:

Judge OKs red-light cameras for Clarksville

An article in today's Clarksville Leaf Chronicle outlines the decision of the City Court Judge rejecting various defense challenges to the use of red light cameras.

See the article at:

See the decision at:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Binette decision

Back in the year 2000, Justice Barker authored the Binette decision. Current Chief Justice Holder wrote a dissent. Barker did not think the driving was bad enough to justify the stop of Binette with his BAC level of .16. Barker wrote: "Binette did move laterally at times within his lane while operating his vehicle, we find that his movement was not pronounced, and therefore did not give rise to reasonable suspicion that he was under the influence of an intoxicant." I am posting here the video of the traffic stop. Every time a motion to suppress a stop is filed, the basis for suppression is this case. By viewing the video you can judge whether the driving in your case is worse than the driving in this video.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Parent victims want defense accountability

In the Knoxville News Sentinel today was an article depicting the anger that has resulted in an interesting legislative proposal. The parents of murder victims are angry over some defense claims that, according to them were fictional and slanderous. They want a defense lawyer to have a real basis for a claim or be financially liable for the slander. One paragraph in the story:

The parents of torture-slaying victim Channon Christian said today they plan to push for laws that would hold defense lawyers criminally liable for any unproven insinuations made during a trial.

This week in the Court of Criminal Appeals

This Week in the Court of Criminal Appeals
January 26, 2010

Trial Conviction Affirmed Prosecutor Top Charge

State v Huxholl Joseph Perrin Evading Arrest

State v Mays Joe Van Dyke Theft over $10,000

State v White Glen Baity & Alexia Fulgham Felony Murder

State v Collins Dan Alsobrooks DUI

State v Kilpatrick Joel Dycus Simple possession
State v Ralph Joshua Crain Driving unregistered

State v Williams Clin Campbell & Dean Decandia Carjacking

State v Willis Kirby May DUI

Supreme Court Punts on Crime Lab Case

In the American Bar Association Journal web news is an article by Debra Cassens Weiss concerning yesterdays decision/non decision in Briscoe v Virginia.

At issue was the constitutionality of Virginia’s rules for the use of laboratory reports at trial in light of Scalia’s recent ruling in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. Scalia's June decision had held that crime lab evidence can’t be used at trial unless the lab analysts are subject to cross-examination. Virginia allows prosecutors to present paper reports to support their case, but requires the analysts to testify for cross-examination if the defense requests it.

The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Virginia Court to reconsider it's decision in light of Melendex-Diaz.

Read the full article at:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Man arrested 9th time for using revoked license

An article today in the Knoxville News informs us of a guy, who won't quit driving despite the orders of the Courts. These cases continue to fill our Courts across the State. Got solutions? Feel free to comment about this story.

A Cookeville man remains jailed after his ninth arrest on a charge of driving on a revoked       license.Cookeville police said 38-year-old Jamie Ralph Heady had altered his license plate before his most recent arrest last week by placing a 2010 decal on it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Distracted Driving

FocusDriven Launched to Raise National Awareness of Dangers of Distracted Driving
Jan. 12. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Safety Council President Janet Froetscher announced the creation of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The group is led by Jennifer Smith, who has been an outspoken advocate against distracted driving since her mother was killed by someone talking on his cell phone while driving in 2008. FocusDriven is a direct outgrowth of the September 2009 national Distracted Driving Summit in Washington called by Secretary LaHood. “I first met several of the founding members of FocusDriven at our Distracted Driving Summit, and I’m deeply impressed by their commitment to turn these tragic events into positive actions that will help save lives,” said LaHood. “Their stories are not just heartbreaking; they’re also a clear and compelling call to action.”
Check out the outstanding information at:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Drugged Driver Sentenced

 April Ann Dishner,29, of Bristol, who backed over and killed a passenger who got out of her car during a police chase has been denied probation and sentenced to nine years in prison. Dishner admitted smoking crack cocaine and taking morphine pills before driving that day.
Read more at:

Murfreesboro crash team

Kudos to the Murfreesboro police department, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and District Attorney Bill Whitesell for their efforts to create a new vehicular homicide crash team. Read about the equipment, training and organization at:

This week in the Court of Criminal Appeals

This Week in the Court of Criminal Appeals

January 19, 2010

Trial Conviction Affirmed      Prosecutor                     Top Charge

State v Young                       Beth Boswell-Hall         Rape of child

State v Sweat                        Phil Morton                  Agg Robbery

State v Riley                         TaKisha Fitzgerald         Especially Agg Kidnapping

Santa Rosa winery to pay $3 million to teen injured in DUI

A Santa Rosa winery has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a Sebastopol man who was permanently disabled in an alcohol-related car crash in 2006.
A teen claimed he forgot his identification in his car. He was served 6-8 beers at a wedding reception, by his own admission. When he crashed while DUI, his passenger suffered severe brain damage. The 19 year old passenger will never be the same.

Read the full story at:

Monday, January 18, 2010

HUffing and DUI

The Tennessee DA's will be sponsoring a bill in this Legislature to include "substances that impair" to alcohol and drugs as a basis for DUI. The bill is intended to make these cases easier to prosecute. As it is now, we will almost always have to call a toxicologist to prove that an impairing drug is an ingredient in the inhalant. Below is the lead to the story. Go to the link to see the video of this inhalant impaired driver.
                A Kingsport woman allegedly told police she remembers huffing some computer dust remover Sunday           evening in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Fort Henry Drive, but she blacked out and doesn't remember leaving or wrecking moments later.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prescription pills are everywhere!

Man allegedly stuffs teddy bear with pills
A man who allegedly admitted stuffing a teddy bear with a slew of prescription painkillers was arraigned on a federal complaint Friday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley arraigned Brian Andrew Fox on a drug-dealing charge and set a Jan. 19 preliminary hearing.
According to a complaint filed by Knox County Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremiah Johnson, Fox admitted he hid 551 narcotic painkillers in a teddy bear.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Kelly Smith found the pill-stuffed bear in Fox's car after a drug-detecting dog alerted him to the presence of narcotics, the complaint stated.
Fox, who also faces felony drug charges in Lexington, Ky., is being held in jail pending a hearing.
From the Knoxville News Sentinel

Friday, January 15, 2010

Attorney General opinion

The A.G.'s office has issued an opinion that is perfectly consistent with previous materials we have issued concerning the forced blood change by the Legislature last year in Public Chapter 324.
The basic principles are:
1) Law enforcement must take blood in cases of vehicular homicide and DUI with injuries per 55-10-406 (f) and the driver may not refuse.
2) Drivers may not refuse testing per 55-10-406 (d) and case law in cases of vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.
3) Failure to obtain blood would be admissible in evidence, but may not qualify for a missing evidence instruction.
4) The use of reasonable force to obtain blood is permitted per State v Mason.

Read the opinion at:

Doc pleads guilty to for faking research

An Associated Press headline should send a chill down the spine of some of the so called DUI "expert witnesses" in the DUI arena. A few tend to cite their own research in Court and upon further review can't come up with the research.
Dr. Scott Reuben, of Springfield, Massachusetts was the chief of acute pain at Bay State Hospital. He will being doing 10 years in the pokey for faking or not doing research he cited in order to receive  money from drug companies, who liked his research results. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Poking the public defender in the eye

State of Tennessee v. Tommy Holmes - W2008-00759-SC-R11-CD
Shelby County- We granted permission to appeal in this case to address whether the trial court erred in ruling that an indigent defendant forfeited his right to counsel at trial by telling his appointed lawyer, “I know how to get rid of you,” and, at a subsequent meeting, physically assaulting his lawyer by striking the lawyer’s eyeglasses with his finger. The defendant was tried by a jury pro se and convicted of aggravated rape. We hold that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the trial court committed reversible error in ruling that the defendant had forfeited his right to appointed counsel at trial. While the defendant’s physical attack on his lawyer was serious misconduct, it did not rise to the level of “extremely serious misconduct” sufficient to warrant an immediate forfeiture. State v. Carruthers, 35 S.W.3d516, 548 (Tenn. 2000). Because the defendant was erroneously denied his fundamental constitutional right to counsel, we must reverse his conviction and remand this matter for appointment of new counsel and a new trial.

Arrested in New Mexico

A Monroe County man wanted for aggravated vehicular homicide was arrested by New Mexico authorities over the weekend. Pedersen, 41 of Tellico Plains had been on the run since May 20th, 2009. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Pedersen and Angela Nichols, 36 of Madisonville were driving down Lick Creek when he lost control of his truck, hit an embankment and slammed into a tree. Nichols was pronounced dead on the scene. Pedersen was injured in the wreck and managed to leave town before charges were filed against him.

This is the type of problem the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee will address. Why should any prior offenses fall off this guys charge after he bolted from thejurisdiction?

House panel on Red Light and speed cameras

NASHVILLE – A House committee recommended today a major rewrite of state laws on traffic surveillance cameras, including a reduction in penalties that can be assessed and a two-year moratorium on putting new cameras in place.
The House Transportation Committee, which has been conducting hearings for months on the use of cameras to ticket motorists for running red lights or speeding, took a series of votes on multiple proposals.

Senate bill in Judiciary Committee deferred to 1/26

The bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee to toll the 10 and 20 year relation back date for prior offenses was deferred to January 26th this afternoon.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Drinking under age crackdown

The Chattanooga booking report for Jan 9th included 16 persons charged with drinking underage.
Must have been a pretty effective crackdown. More details soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

One-bottle meth more like a bomb

The Murfreesboro Sunday paper has an intreresting and scary article about the arrest of Edwin Beasley by officers Ken Meeks and KeeSha Harding. Mr. Beasley was dazed, confused, sweating and his face was flushed. Police found a 2 liter bottle with a substance boiling inside. After Beaslety was released from the hospital he was charged with DUI, reckless endangerment, and a meth manufacturing charge. This one pot "shake and bake" method creates the equivalent of a bomb. That's not a good thing to have anytime, but especially at the gas pumps!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Trial Convictions affirmed

This Week in the Court of Criminal Appeals
January 8, 2010

Trial Conviction Affirmed Prosecutor Top Charge
State v Orr Kelly Jackson DUI 4th

State v Ferrell William Locke DRL

State v Simmons Tom Minor Agg sexual battery

State v Brown Alanda Dwyer & Colin Campbell 1st Degree murder
NAPC's Prosecutor Fellow, and Montgomery County, TX, Vehicular Crimes prosecutor, Warren Diepraam, was interviewed on MSNBC just before New Year's for his use of Twitter by the Montgomery County, Texas DA's office.
They tweat the name of DUI offenders arrested during the holiday season.

Below is a link to the interview concerning this interesting idea.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Senate bill in Judiciary Committee Tuesday

SENATE BILL 844 By Beavers

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, Chapter 10, relative to driving offenses.

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-10-403(a)(3), is amended by adding the following language at the end of the subdivision: For purposes of this section, the arrest precipitating the instant conviction shall toll the running of the ten (10) years and twenty (20) years with regard to the instant conviction. SECTION 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2009, the public welfare requiring it.


This bill has passed in the House.

Speeding in Switzerland

A Swiss millionaire has been handed down a record speeding fine of $290,000 (£180,000) by a court.

The man was reportedly caught driving a red Ferrari Testarossa at 137km/h (85mph) through a village.

The penalty was calculated based on the unnamed motorist's wealth - assessed by the court as $22.7m (£14.1m) - and because he was a repeat offender.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fun Facts from the Bar

Kyle Western of Men's Health magazine cited these in an article in the Jan/Feb issue:

Average guy's age when he first swaggered into a bar:

Number of men known by name at their local bar:

Average number of drinks served to each patron:

Decibel level in average bar:

Decibel level at which eardrums ache:

Increase in alcohol consumption when music is loud:

Percentage of drinkers who have flashed a fake I.D.:

Percentage of men who have stopped a drunk friend
from driving home:

Percentage of men who have called a cab for a stranger:

City with most bars: LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Drugged Driver.

An Anderson County Woman was found passed out in her car with all the drugs and paraphernalia pictured.
The sad reality is that most DUI offenders in some parts of Tennessee are driving under the influence of drugs.
Read more about this at:

Monday, January 4, 2010

This Week in the Court of Criminal Appeals
December 28, 2009 continued

Trial Conviction Prosecutor Top Charge
State v Stewart Weakley Barnard Agg Burglary

State v Gibbs Roger Moore Agg Robbery

State v Blodgett Weakley Barnard Habitual Traffic

State v Stratton Marla Holloway DUI

State v Duke Brett Gunn Burglary of vehicle

State v Comer Frank Harvey Reckless Endangerment

Traffic Fatalities in 2009

Preliminary data indicates that 2009 was a safer year on our rodaways. 954 people were reported to have died. Since 2005 fatalities have dropped 25%. There were 316 fewer people killed during the last year as compared to 5 years ago.

To all who did their part to make this happen, thank you. Keep it up. It's wonderful to know that more than 300 people are still with us due to your efforts!

A Speedwell (Claiborne County) Tennessee woman shot her husband. She then tried to drive 41 miles to a Clinton, Tn hospital. She crashed and was found to be a DUI driver.

Will she defend against the Aggravated Assault charge by claiming she was too drunk to know what she was doing or will she defend against the DUI by saying she was not drunk or both?

Don't you love a good conumdrum?