Thursday, December 27, 2012

DUI For Christmas?

Four people were arrested in Nashville on Christmas Day and for more on the next day. Guess they did not like their presents. They probably didn't like spending their Christmas in jail either.
Three of the eight (37%) were in crashes. Unfortunately, two resulted in injuries to people in the other cars. Three had blood tests and are awaiting their results. Two had breath tests with results of .161 and .232. One was stopped, because he could not stay in a lane. Another was stopped for not having a headlight. Another stopped herself in the middle of an intersection. Another made a wide turn into a safety zone and nearly into the grasss across the safety zone.
One genuis was wearing nothing but a tee shirt, shorts and clogs in 35 degree, windy and rainy weather. Another urinated in the parking lot as her officer wrote her report.
The average age of the offenders was forty. The oldest was 58 and the youngest 27. Seven of the eight were male.
They are presumed innocent, but not intelligent.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Martoiya Lang, a 9 year veteran of the Memphis Police Department had been murdered reportedly by a 15 year old, while on the line of duty. The officer was the mother of 4 children. She and her partner went to serve a search warrant for drugs. The criminal(s) inside opened fire. Please keep officer Lang and family in your prayers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Child abuser slits wrist in Court


Ledford attempts suicide during sentencing hearing; gets 80-year sentence

Published: 8:34 AM, 12/12/2012Last updated: 10:31 AM, 12/12/2012
Author: Michael Thomason
Source: The Monroe County Advocate
MADISONVILLE-A Sweetwater man scheduled to be sentenced for sex crimes against children reportedly tried to cut his wrists at the Monroe County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
Charles Edgar "Eddie" Ledford 46, pleaded guilty to child abuse/neglect, two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery in October.
Ledford's sentencing was one of several cases scheduled to be heard Tuesday, but around 2 p.m., before he was brought into the courtroom, he apparently managed to acquire a razor blade and attempted to slit his wrists.
Reports out of the Criminal Court Clerk's office stated the cuts on Ledford's wrists weren't very deep and he was initially he was going to be taken to the Sweetwater Hospital Emergency Room for treatment. But after being treated at the scene, it was decided he wasn't seriously injured and would still be sentenced.
When Ledford pleaded in October, it was noted that he was considered suicidal, but at that point he hadn't attempted any such act.
At the end of his hearing, Ledford received an 80-year prison term. Some of the terms run at the same time, meaning his actual jail time is 56 years. Ledford would be more than 100 years old if he lived to the end of his term.
See full story in the Wednesday, Dec. 12, edition of The Advocate & Democrat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Phlebotomist uses fear of needle excuse

This is a first for me. I was scanning a new opinion from the Court of Criminal Appeals, State v Killian (see link below), when I had to do a double take. The defendant said she refused a blood test, because of her fear of needles. Then I read that she was a phlebotomist. She explained it with,
“I don’t have a problem sticking you [with a needle]. I can’t stand to be stuck.” 
Phlebotomy school must have been an interesting experience. Phlebotomy students stick each other dozens of times under the supervision of instructors. 

Concerning legal issues, the case was affirmed, but remanded for a corrected judgment, because it did not indicate a percentage of service necessary before any rehabilitative efforts could begin. Read the case at:

State of Tennessee v. Carolyn Nadine Killian | Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Monday, December 10, 2012

Former vehicular homicide killer gets 80 years for child murder

31 year old Reginald Tumlin has received an 80 year sentence for murdering his child. In 2002 Tumlin got a 5 year sentence in a vehicular homicide. He had 38 previous convictions and used his drug dealing schedule on the stand to try to escape the child abuse murder conviction.
Congratulations are in order for ADA Charlie Minor.
Read about this case in the linked article from the Chattanoogan here:

Tumlin Gets 80-Year Sentence After Son's Child Abuse Death - 12/10/2012 - Chattanoogan.com

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Driver with Restricted license and 2 DUI convictions charged in death



Don't you think someone given the privilege of a restricted license might at least try to refrain from driving impaired? This poor victim's family has got to wonder why this 25 year old driver got such a license after two previous DUI convictions. The only times that's legitimate is if he also had an ignition interlock installed, which is not mentioned in the story or if one or both of the offenses fell off his record due to our ten year rule.
December 09, 2012 12:57 EST
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) -- A man has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence after a Nashville cab driver was killed in a traffic accident in Murfreesboro.
According to Murfreesboro police, 38-year-old Geoffriau Powell, a driver for Allied Cab Co. in Nashville, was stopped at a gas station on Saturday morning when another vehicle slammed into his driver's side door. The impact completely crushed the driver's side and killed Powell.
The Daily News Journal (http://on.dnj.com/120E9cP ) reported that the driver of the second vehicle, 25-year-old Evan Childress, was arrested and charged with his third DUI, driving on a restricted license and vehicular homicide.
He bonded out of jail on a $55,000 bond later on Saturday.
Information from: The Daily News Journal, http://www.dnj.com

Cowboy tragedy

In Irving, Texas, a crash involving an alleged intoxicated driver resulted in the death of his passenger. This is not uncommon. As prosecutors we see cases like this quite often. The only thing that made this particular crash receive front page coverage in the national media is that the driver and passengers were members of the Dallas Cowboy football team. While I am sympathetic to the family and friends of the professional athletes who suffer in a horrific tragedy like this, I can't help but wonder what would happen if the national media paid attention to crashes of this nature among people who are not professional athletes, rock stars or congressmen.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender Decision affirmed

Jody Lindsey in Marshall County turned a bad situation into a really bad situation. Linsey was stopped for speeding and turned out to be a Habitual Traffic Offender. Lindsey was facing a Class E felony. The Lindsey, a sex offender, failed to comply with requirements of the sex offender registry. That added to the problem. Then Lindsey failed to appear for Court. To make matters worse, Lindsey failed to report to the sex offender registry again.

When all was said and done, Lindsey, a Persistent felony offender, had accumulated a 10 year sentence.
Read the case at: http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/lindseyjodyleeopn.pdf

Crossing lane line Decision

Another decision from the Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed that an officer has reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause to stop a vehicle when the driver is across a lane line. In the linked case the driver violated TCA 55-8-123 and other traffic laws.


"Whenever any roadway has been divided into two (2) or more clearly marked lanes for traffic ... [a] vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety."

To read the case, State v Turk, go to: http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/turkjosephopn.pdf

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This young lady was paralyzed by an impaired driver in Clarksville. Supporters have been raising funds to try and get her some specialized medical treatment. Thanks to Chik-Fil-A in Clarksville for holding a fundraiser on her behalf. Read about this beautiful girl and efforts on her behalf at:

Chick-fil-a sponsors fundraiser for 7-year-old DUI victim | The Leaf Chronicle -- Clarksville, Tenn., and Fort Campbell | theleafchronicle.com

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving No Refusal Results

The No Refusal Weekend in 16 jurisdictions in the State was a great success. Deadly crashes were 33% lower than the same period last year between November 21 and 25, 2012 during the No Refusal operation! There were six fatalities this year. Three were alcohol related. One was in a No Refusal County, Maury County.

There were 108 DUI arrests.
There were 10 Refusals.
There were 9 Search Warrants resulting in evidence in those cases. 3 of those were in Memphis.

Counties participating included:

Davidson;
Shelby;
Monroe;
Roane;
Sevier;
Franklin;
Grundy;
Sumner;
Fayette;
Cocke;
Washington;
Clay;
Putnam;
Lawrence;
Maury;
Chester and
Weakley.


Monday, November 19, 2012

No Refusal Thanksgiving Enforcement

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Colonel Tracy Trott are reminding citizens to expect a “No Refusal” and high-visibility, safe driving enforcement campaign during the 2012 Thanksgiving Holiday period. The “No Refusal” enforcement will begin at 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 21 and end at midnight, Sunday, November 25.

Read more at:

THP Prepares Motorists for Heavy Presence this Thanksgiving Holiday | TN.gov Newsroom

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vehicular Assault Sentence upheld

Kristopher Colbert, 30, received the bad news that his 8 year sentence for 2 counts of vehicular assault and leaving the scene has been upheld. Colbert injured two and paralyzed Brittany Rutherford, his 20 year old victim. An article in the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle gives more detail and can be seen by hitting this link.
Court of Criminal Appeals upholds DUI wreck sentencing | The Leaf Chronicle -- Clarksville, Tenn., and Fort Campbell | theleafchronicle.com


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where did you go William Wynn?

In Crossville William Winn was scheduled to appear for his vehicular homicide by intoxication plea or trial Wednesday. He did not. Two years ago he left the VFW, drove across the center line and killed a 78 year old man. Now, he has a nervous bondsman and a disappointed family of his victim.
Read about Mr. Wynn at:
Search on for missing defendant » Area News » Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Physicians Who Use Marijuana are 'Unsafe to Practice'..


Physicians Who Use Marijuana are 'Unsafe to Practice'
Kate Johnson

 Oct 29, 2012 MONTREAL, Canada — Physicians who legally use medical marijuana to treat their own debilitating conditions such as chronic pain or nausea are considered unsafe to practice medicine in the state of Colorado until such time that they no longer need the treatment, according to a policy from the Colorado Physician Health Program.
"We took a conservative stance," Doris Gundersen, MD, Medical Director of the Colorado Physician Health Program, toldMedscape Medical News after her presentation here at the International Conference on Physician Health (ICPH). "We don't want to deny them treatment...but until they no longer need it, or we have better ways of correlating impairment, they can't practice."
She said Colorado is the first state to come up with such a policy, prompted by reports of physicians who were legally using the substance. "The medical board appealed to us about how to manage this, there were several physicians referred and we happened to see they were also using marijuana — they had legitimate [Medical Marijuana Registry identification] cards," she said.
"This is where we got a little nervous. All of the associate medical directors at the Colorado Physician Health Program are psychiatrists and addiction specialists, and we recognized very quickly that this may not be compatible with practicing medicine safely.... We don't want physicians excluded from treatment that they need, but at the same time we need to protect the public," Dr. Gundersen said.
"Viral Situation" 
In her presentation at the conference, Dr. Gundersen told delegates about the "viral situation" in Colorado, where the number of Medical Marijuana Registry identification cards has "grown exponentially" from around 17,000 in 2009 to almost 128,000 by June 2011. 
"According to the Denver Post, there are more medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks and liquor stores combined," she said.
While debate continues about the general safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, physician use of this treatment deserves specific attention, she emphasized.
"The way we view it is that physicians, like pilots, are in safety-sensitive employment.... There's not a good way to measure concentrations and correlate that to impairment, but very low concentrations can impair," she said, citing one study suggesting that among airline pilots, impairment on flight simulators persisted up to 24 hours after smoking a marijuana cigarette, even though subjects were unaware of it (Am J Psych. 1985;142:1325-1329).
Another study showed decision-making errors 50% to 70% of the time in long-time marijuana users compared with 8% of the time in nonusers (Neurology. 2006;66:737-739).
It's unclear what the cut-off level is for marijuana impairment. "Even at levels as low as 3 ng/mL there are some mind-altering effects," she said, adding that a concentration of at least 10 ng/mL is required to relieve symptoms such as chronic pain or nausea.
Public Safety "Supersedes" Individual Rights
"To have a license to practice is a privilege, not a right, and public safety supersedes an individual physician," she said. "If we get more sophisticated in correlating levels with safety, our policy may change, but right now it's conservative and it's honestly to protect the public but also the physician from making errors."
Dr. Gundersen pointed out that physicians also should not practice while impaired by other medications or alcohol, although the use of these substances does not preclude them from practicing medicine altogether.
"Things that are approved by the FDA generally have pretty standardized dosing, and we can perform some neuropsychiatric testing to make sure physicians are not impaired," she explained. "Again, with alcohol we have better cut-offs in terms of what should be considered impairing."
Dr. Gundersen said the marijuana policy is a "first effort out there to make sense of something we don't have enough science about to make decisions on, and so far there's been no case law challenging it."
Asked to comment on the policy, Andrew Clarke, MD, Executive Director of the Physician Health Program of British Columbia, told Medscape Medical News it is "not an unreasonable position — whether or not it's the best position is an ongoing debate.
"There are many medications that impair one's judgment and people do take them, so it's a tough call to decide when would we draw a line and say anybody taking this medication shouldn't be practicing," he said in an interview. "Or maybe there are circumstances when someone who uses that medication from time to time might still be able to practice in-between the times they use it, like alcohol or other sedative medications, or sedating antihistamines."
A pivotal point in the debate is the issue of self-prescription, said Dr. Clarke.
"It's clear that nobody should be self-prescribing marijuana ever," he said. "There's lots of medications out there that impair one's judgment and physicians use those medications to get better, but it's very important that it be done under the supervision of someone else.
"When we're in a situation where there's an illness that impairs judgment or we're prescribing a medication that impairs judgment and there's no second opinion on that, then we have a very potentially difficult situation," Dr. Clarke said.
Dr. Gundersen and Dr. Clarke have disclosed no relevant financial relationships. 
2012 AMA-CMA-BMA International Conference on Physician Health (ICPH) Presented October 27, 2012.


Friday, November 2, 2012

DUI 5th Affirmed. Post-Conviction Relief Denied

In a case that could have turned into a nightmare in Hohenwald defendant Michael Fischer was convicted of DUI 5th offense and sentenced to 3 years. Fischer drove toward a lady and her children on the highway crossing the fog line. The pedestrians had to back away from the approaching truck. Then Fischer drove into the county fair grounds just after a mud run had been completed. Muddy children were being hosed off by the fire department when Fischer decided to do donuts in the mud. Fischer used the SODDI (some other dude did it) defense. His 19 year old passenger claimed at trial to be the driver. The passenger admitted to some heavy drinking himself.
In an interesting twist Fischer also claimed his attorney at trial was incompetent and he would not have been convicted except for having an incompetent lawyer. You have to love a guy who takes personal responsibility for his actions so seriously. Fischer's claims all failed. The conviction was affirmed. Read about it at:
Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions | Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Scariest of Halloween

Seven persons were arrested for DUI in Nashville on Halloween. They were the real scary villains. No ghost, ghoul or goblin is as scary as an impaired driver. All are presumed innocent, except for one guy, Darnell Williams, who already pled guilty.
The others arrested were:
Terry Cratzer,
Hilda Guerrero,
Jonathan Hancock;
Kylana Goodrich;
Terry Keggereis and
Stephen Hamblin.
Three were driving on either a suspended or revoked license. One was charged with vehicular assault for injuring a passenger during a crash. Three face implied consent violations, one of which was a criminal I.C. charge. The highest blood alcohol level of the night was .17.
Some people don't seem to believe Halloween is a night for children.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Probation and speaking engagements for Vehicular Homicide

In Morgan County, Jonathan Armes, 27,  was given a sentence of three years of probation for killing Terry Ledford, 50, while driving recklessly with a high level of oxycodone in his system. As part of the sentence Armes has been ordered to speak to High School students about the dangers of driving impaired.
I know nothing about this case, but I have a problem with sending offenders to school to talk to students. What makes us certain that an offender like this will have a positive result when speaking? Is he an effective public speaker? Will he make light of the situation? Will he go in and blame others for his predicament? Maybe, this Judge knows enough about this offender, that he has made the right decision in this instance. In most situations killing another person does not qualify an offender to become a counselor to students, so these types of orders are a little scary.

Read the News Sentinel report about this tragic case at:
Probation given in Morgan County vehicular homicide case » Knoxville News Sentinel

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Felony DUI on Lawnmower affirmed

Six years is the sentence for a Range 2 felon, who drove impaired on a lawnmower. He is a 6 time DUI offender, who was also a declared habitual traffic offender. This guy was driving down the middle of the road on a riding mower with a .15 BAC level.
Read the decision at:
http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/mcmurraymartinopn.pdf


Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Drinking and Driving

Halloween is now one of the biggest drinking party events of the year. Many parties are scheduled this weekend. Don't end up in jail. Designate a driver and get home safely. You won't look good in the booking photo in your costume! You may end up on this blog. Be careful out there.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The best news from the annual DA's Conference was the unveiling of the new effort to fight against prescription and synthetic drug abuse. There is a powerful video and some great materials available. Go to the link to explore. These materials are free and can make a great difference.

http://www.tndagc.org/deceptivedanger/

Friday, October 19, 2012

50 years for double Aggravated Vehicular Homicides

In Wilson County a woman has received a 50 year sentence. Four-year old Alton Barrett and his grandfather, James Barrett, were killed.  The wreck left a third person, Ronnie Boyd, paralyzed.
Barbara Mayfield was driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone while extremely intoxicated. Read about it at:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sheriff Norman Lewis

Sorry to hear that Sheriff Lewis has passed away. He was a valuable member of the DUI Task Force appointed by Governor Bredeson in 2006. He was a Sheriff, who believed that enforcing traffic laws in his county would make his county safer. He had a great wit and a greater passion for doing the right thing. He will be missed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

12 year sentence for drunk, speeder who killed

Bryant Houston, 39, was traveling at 103  mph on Highway 153 in Chattanooga with a .19 BAC when he slammed into a car making a turn into a parking lot. In the child restraint seat in the back of the car was a 4 month old baby, Addison Moore.
Houston had the audacity to say he reached a .19 BAC by drinking 3 beers. A 200 pound male would have to consume about nine or ten beers in an hour to reach .19. This guy received a 12 year sentence from maiming two adults and killing a child. That's the maximum sentence in Tennessee. Maybe, during his prison time he can work on his math or his conscience.

Read about the tragic case at:
Chattanooga man sentenced to 12 years after 4-month-old girl dies in crash | timesfreepress.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Welcome Karen Willis

The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle ran a great story about Karen Willis, recently sworn in as an Assistant DA. She sacrificed much in order to get where she is today and her story is inspiring.
 Enjoy!

Willis sworn in as first black female assistant DA in Montgomery County | The Leaf Chronicle -- Clarksville, Tenn., and Fort Campbell | theleafchronicle.com

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mother of two denied alternative sentencing in vehicular homicide- Kingsport Times-News

In Rogersville, Tennessee, Judge John Duggar denied a request for alternative sentencing in this vehicular homicide by intoxication case. The Defendant had a .17 BAC and three different drugs in her system, when she killed her passenger. Due to her prior criminal record, she was sentenced to 8 years. Congratulations to ADA Kevin Keeton for his efforts. Read about it at:
Mother of two denied alternative sentencing in vehicular homicide- Kingsport Times-News

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New Case from the CCA

Eddie Joe Whitaker of Campbell County might be regretting his decision to go through a trial and sentencing. By the time it was done, he received a sentence of 11 months 29 days suspended only after serving 75% of the sentence.
After he was convicted and ordered not to drive, he kept driving. Combined with prior felony convictions, the Court did not believe he was trustworthy enough to comply with probation requirements.
The prosecutor in the case was LaTasha Wassom. Read the case at: http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/whitakereddiejoeopn.pdf

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September fatalities

September 2012 ended up being substantially better than September 2011. There were 20 fewer traffic fatalities reported than in the in the previous year. We still lost 61 people during the month.
Using the Titan program I reviewed the 48 crashes currently listed in the program, which accounted for 51 deaths and 61 incapacitating injuries.

1)The fatal crashes occurred in 36 different counties.
2)The worst county was Jefferson with three fatal crashes.
3)There were two each in Bedford, Davidson, Gibson, Knox, Monroe and Shelby.
4)Five persons were killed in alcohol related crashes.
5)Two were killed in drug related crashes.
6)Three motorcyclists perished.
7)Three pedestrians died, one in a hit and run. Another was a 2 year old child.

Age of Fatal victims:

Those who passed away varied in age from 2 to 86.
1) 21 were over 55.
2) 12 were 24 or younger.
3) 5 were between 25 and 40.
4) 8 were between 41 and 55.

3.5 males died for every female.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Drugged Driving Homicide case

Take 3 minutes to hear the story of the Case of the Week from the Lexington, Kentucky prosecutors on the Ray the DA website:


Office of the Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney » Case Of The Week: Drugged Driving Results In Homicide Charge And Prison Sentence

Witness Order

Clois Dean Asbury was convicted of DUI 7th offense, leaving the scene of a crash, and an implied consent violation. The case has some instruction for us as prosecutors. In this case the prosecuting officer was called as the fourth witness. As the prosecuting officer, he was not subject to the sequestration rule. The Court found this did not have a prejudicial effect, but the Attorney General conceded that failure to call the witness first was an error, although a harmless one. The Court in this case agrees.
The simple lesson is, if you choose to use the prosecuting witness subsequent to other witnesses, keep him/her out of the room, until he or she testifies. That should avoid the problem.
Read the case at:
http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/asburycloisdeanopn.pdf

New case: Traffic Stop

Morristown officer, Brad Rice, spotted a driver come to an abrupt stop at a stop light. The light had been red for a while. He decided to watch the car. It pulled into a parking lot and stayed for a minute, then pulled out at an excessive speed. The officer caught up and saw that the car was stopped in a driveway of a locked plant.

After officer Rice mad contact with the driver he discovered he was impaired. The defendant lost a motion to suppress, pled guilty and appealed. The conviction was affirmed in State v Barlow. Read the case at:
http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/barlowbenjaminopn_0.pdf

Another Defense Trick implodes


In a case issued Thursday, September 27th, the Court of Criminal Appeals removed a trick we have been dealing with for a couple years across the State.
Many prosecutors have dealt with this situation. A driver is arrested. The case lingers for a while in Sessions Court. The defendant waives his right to a preliminary and binds his case over to the grand jury. It takes a while for the case to come out of the Grand Jury. An Indictment is issued and it is more that a year from the date of the arrest. 
Defense attorneys then file a motion to dismiss the case, because the prosecution has not commenced within the one year statute of limitations.
Most Judges deny those motions, recognizing that the case was commenced in Sessions Court by the issuance of the warrant.
In State v Joyner, the CCA reverses the decision of a Trial Court, which bought the argument. Judge Wedemyer for the Court wrote:

"The trial court dismissed the charges finding that the State had not commenced prosecution before the expiration of the statute of limitations. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we conclude that the trial court improperly dismissed the charges because the Defendant waived his preliminary hearing and agreed to allow the case to be bound over to the grand jury before
the expiration of the statute of limitations."

Read the case at:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Case from Lincoln County


In Lincoln County Myron Webb committed his 6th DUI offenses while on bond for his 5th offense. After he pled guilty a sentencing hearing resulted in consecutive four-year sentences. During the sentencing hearing he asked to be sent to treatment, so that he could become a law-abiding citizen. During cross-examination by ADA Holly Eubanks, he admitted absconding from a halfway house and admitted he had made the promise to follow the law in a prior sentencing hearing. Since the defendant committed a felony while on bond for another felony, consecutive sentences were mandatory. The sentence was affirmed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Motorcycles to the rescue

200 motorcyclists recently raised $530,000 for St. Jude Children's Hospital. They rode from Peoria to Memphis. The good people of Dyersburg, Tennessee, fed the riders and hosted them for a celebration.
Read about this good news and great dedication to a worthy cause at:
Dyersburg State Gazette: St. Jude Rides - Peoria - Memphis riders enter Dyersburg

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

3 more convictions affirmed

The Court of Criminal Appeals has issued 3 more opinions affirming DUI and Vehicular Assault convictions.
The first is State v Pollock can be seen at:
http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/pollocksteveopn.pdf

Pollock was convicted of vehicular assault. He tried to pass a car in a no passing zone and ran head on into a car severely injuring two people. Pollock had Soma, Methadone, Valium, and Xanax and Meprobamate in his blood. He admitted taking his prescribed dose of methadone.
This case includes an excellent analysis of the testimony of Dr. Tonya Horton, TBI special agent and forensic scientist and is highly recommended for all prosecutors dealing with drugged driving cases. 
Trooper Avery and Investigator Moore also did an outstanding job as did ADA Kelvin McAlpin in this case from Obion County.

The next case is a DUI from Hardin County, State v Hartnest. It can be found at:
http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/hartnestemmettopn.pdf

In this case the officer suffered a very bad day on the witness stand due to an incomplete and sketchy report. Despite his mediocre report there was enough evidence to sustain the conviciton. The defendant had a blood alcohol level of .13. He was stopped in part due to having a can of been on his back bumper as her drove slowly in Savanah. Trial Judge Creed McGinley commented that if you drive down the road with a beer on the bumper, you will be stopped ten out of ten times. My guess is that this case would have never resulted in a trial, but for the report.

The third new case is State v Barham. It is at:
http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/barhamrobertopn.pdf

Mr. Barham ran into a work van in a person's driveway. Jerry Morris in Jackson, Tennessee, had been sleeping when he heard the loud bang. He immediately went outside and found the defendant climbing out of the passenger side window. The defendant left and returned in the same clothes about five minutes later. The defendant used the old SODDI defense (Some other dude did it), but wasn't able to convince a single juror that Mr. Morris was wrong about what he saw.











Friday, September 14, 2012

New Case from the CCA

Another motion to suppress a stop has been denied by a Trial Judge and affirmed by the Appellate Court based on a violation of TCA 55-8-115 and crossing lane lines. Judge Richard Vance in Sevier County found that crossing lane lines in violation of 55-8-115 and 55-8-143 gave the officer probable cause to stop the driver.
The defense attempted to use the Binette decision to attack reasonable suspicion to stop for DUI. When the Binnette decision was issued in 2000, the law did not include the legislation that becam 55-8-115 and 55-8-143.
Read the case of State v McGee at:

http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/mcgeematthewtopn.pdf

Rapper tweets about drunk driving, crashes and dies

This is pretty sad. A 21 year old aspiring rapper sent out a tweet about drinking and driving and minutes later died in a crash. It appears he was a passenger. Three other young men in the car died with him after the driver ran a red light  and crashed into a wall.
Read about it at:
http://thegrio.com/2012/09/13/ervin-mckinness-aspiring-rapper-dies-in-car-crash-after-drunk-driving-twitter-boast/

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Labor Day No Refusal Weekend

In 16 counties during the Labor Day weekend 74 persons were arrested for DUI. One search warrant was needed for a driver, who attempted to refuse testing. The other 73 consented to tests, perhaps due to their knowledge that refusal would have led to a search warrant and a test without consent.
Read the Department of Safety report at:
Department of Safety & Homeland Security Announces Results of Labor Day "No Refusal" DUI Enforcement Effort | TN.gov Newsroom

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New DUI Decision

Lexington, Tn., officer Brad Wilson responded when a citizen called and informed the dispatcher that a car was being driven recklessly. The officer arrived and the citizen pulled out of the way, so the officer could see the suspect car for himself. After pulling away from a stop sign the officer noticed the car was going faster than he was, which was 42 mph in a 30 mph zone. Officer Wilson pulled the car over and found an impaired driver.
The defendant file a motion to suppress and lost and was found guilty by a jury at trial. His appeal focused solely on the motion to suppress.
The defendant, Charles White Sr., either had plenty of money or a pretty good buddy. He called a land surveyor to testify for him. The surveyor watched a video, looked at the distance between telephone poles in the video, measured the slope of the road and came up with an opinion that the average speed of the White vehicle was 30 mph.
That was an interesting use of a land surveyor. What was not indicated was that the starting speed (starting from a dead stop or 0 mph) and stopping speed as the driver slowed to a complete stop would be substantially less than the fastest speed. The average could have easily included the 42+ mph the officer observed.
The Court found that the officer was credible and simply told what he saw. When he, officer Wilson, was going 42 mph, White was still pulling away from him. The Court affirmed the decision of the jury.
Read the case at: http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/whitecharlesopn.pdf

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Illinois law versus Tennessee law

A guy facing a DUI 7th in Mundelien, Il, is facing a sentence of 6-30 years. The same guy in Tennessee would face 1-2 years.
Read about the Illinois guy at:
Palatine man faces 30 years after seventh DUI arrest - chicagotribune.com

Advise from TRUCKERS for this weekend!!

Over 28.2 million motorists are expected to travel on the highways this Labor Day weekend, a 3.1 percent increase over last year according to AAA Travel. As motorists prepare for their last summer getaway, a team of professional truck drivers are helping to ensure our roads are safe.


America’s Road Team Captains, elite professional truck drivers with millions of accident-free miles, are offering advice on how to navigate through highway traffic and arrive at your destination safely. Tips include:

Perform a pre-trip inspection– Check your tire pressure, wipers and fluids. Simple maintenance can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road before you leave your home.

• Plan your trip – Know where you are going and be prepared to exit. Indecisive driving is a major cause of traffic problems.

• Check the weather forecast and conditions – Weather conditions can change very quickly. Be sure to check the forecast often. Do not attempt to drive through standing water. Watch for road closures and detours.

• Large Trucks Have Blind spots – If you can't see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.

• Do not cut in front of large trucks – Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them. A fully loaded tractor trailer takes a football and both end zones to come to a complete stop when driving at highway speeds.

• Pay Attention– Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes. Looking away for even two seconds doubles the chances of an accident. Turn cell phones and PDAs off.

• Allow a Safety Cushion – Look 1/4 mile ahead for a safe path. Leave yourself an out.

• Slow Down –Chances of a crash nearly triples when driving faster than surrounding traffic.

• Keep extra water in your vehicle –Just as you keep a winter driving kit in your vehicle, it is important to be prepared when driving during the summer months. Keep plenty of extra water, sunscreen and non-perishable snacks in your car in case you are stranded.

• Buckle Up –Safety belts are not a fashion statement – they save lives.

• Abide by Traffic Rules– Follow traffic signs and signals – paying special attention to work zones is important during this high construction season.

• Be Careful Backing Up– One in four preventable collisions involve backing up. Be sure to look before backing up; walk around your car prior to departure.

“Labor Day weekend is the last of the summer vacation travel,” said America’s Road Team Captain Alphonso Lewis (YRC Freight) of Montgomery, Ala. There are additional motorists on the highway, with many in unfamiliar areas. For the sake of safety, drivers need to slow down, follow the rules of the road and be patient.”

The America’s Road Team would like to remind the motoring public that from driveway to highway, safety requires patience and dedication.

Beware Driving in Memphis

Memphis drivers have been named the most dangerous in Tennessee. Knoxville was listed as one of the safest cities.
The analysis was done based on likelihood to be in a crash. Read about it at:


Memphis Drivers Named the Most Dangerous in TN | WREG.com — Memphis News & Weather from WREG Television, News Channel 3

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kendell Poole and Ollie the Otter

At the meeting of the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Tennessee has received some significant notice.
First our own Director of the Governor's Highway Safety Office, Kendell Poole, was elected President of the National Association.
Next, the folks in Cookeville, who created and use Ollie the Otter to educate children about using booster seats and seat belts, received national recognition for their outstanding program.
Contrary to popular belief Ollie and Kendell are not the same person! They are both dedicated public servants.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No Refusal Labor Day

16 different jurisdictions will be participating in No Refusal efforts over Labor Day. See a typical news notice about the effort from the Kingsport Times News:

"No Refusal" DUI enforcement to launch Labor Day weekend | TriCities.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New DUI, Agg Assault Affirmed...5 year sentence

Congratulations to ADA David Shinn,  THP Sergeant Larry Fraley, Deputy Heath Gunter and everyone involved in the case against Mel Lindsay.  Lindsay was driving a gold Lexus like a crazy person to avoid another DUI. He scooted through a school zone going more than 90 miles per hour. He  ran into one officer and slammed into a patrol car to try to avoid being caught. The case was affirmed. The DUI was his 4th. Read about it at:
http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/atwellmelopn.pdf

Clarksville Vehicular Homicide gets probation

In Clarksville a woman was charged with DUI and vehicular homicide by intoxication. She was allowed to plead guilty to reckless homicide and was sentenced to receive 4 years of probation. She also pled to DUI and was given the minimum sentence.
The defense intended to blame the deceased passenger for grabbing the steering wheel causing the crash. Since the passenger could not speak for himself, the State agreed to a plea.
Read about it at:
Clarksville woman sentenced to probation, jail for DUI, reckless homicide | The Leaf Chronicle -- Clarksville, Tenn., and Fort Campbell | theleafchronicle.com

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ricky Otts law lands driver in jail

Representative Joe Carr worked hard in the General Assembly to fight for the passage of the Ricky Otts law. The law requires an arrest if a driver is involved in a fatal crash and does not have valid license or insurance.
In the case in which Ricky Otts was killed a driver left the country and has not been heard from since a crash for which he was not arrested. There is now an arrest warrant in that case. Now Smuel Perez-Nuno has been arrested after a similiar situation in Chattanooga. Read about it at:

Perez-Nuno Jailed After Fatal Motorcyle Wreck - 08/06/2012 - Chattanoogan.com

Powerful opinion from Tennessean

Joining in the frustration from the ridiculous death toll on our highways and the CDC news that Nashville is number 3 of all cities in America for losing young people on our roads (memphis is number 4), The Tennessean has lashed out and wants to see substantial changes!
First, they want to increase fines that are limited to $50 in traffic courts.
Second, they want Driver's Education funded and required in our schools.
Third, they want law enforcement to write more tickets for texting and seat belt violation.
Fourth, they want parents and adults to be better examples and stop some of the ludicrous behaviors that lead to traffic crashes.
Read about it at:

When it comes to safety, TN fails road test | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Judge Page

Judge Roger Page has been named to the Court of Criminal appeals to replace the late Judge J.C. McLin. Judge Page is a former assistant district attorney, who has served as a circuit court judge in the 26th Judicial District since 1998.
We wish him the best!

Read about the Judge at:
Haslam Appoints Page to Court of Criminal Appeals Western Section | Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Monday, July 30, 2012

Disturbing news of Nashville

Nashville has the third highest death rate for young drivers of all cities in America. Let's hope city leaders will respond. Read the disturbing report at:

Nashville young traffic deaths 3rd highest in U.S. | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nationwide Raid on Synthetic Drug Labs

This is some great news: The Feds went after and arrested suppliers and are cracking down on shipment routes. Read it here at:

Nationwide raids on synthetic drug labs lead to 90 arrests, seizure of $36 million - U.S. News

Tennessee legislation praised on bath salt front

Yesterday we had another webinar about synthetic drugs. Today in the Tennessean we see another article about this evil crime. Tennessee is praised for it's analogue law. The nation is behind our State again....

America gets high, legally, thanks to 'bath salts' | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July fatal crashes

The Titan program has recorded 38 crashes with fatalities in July. This is not all, but the number entered in the computer program. These resulted in 42 fatalities and 36 injuries. The red dots on the Tennessee map depict their locations.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July fatalities are down. Let's finish the month well!

Fatalities on the roads are still up compared to last year, but thanks to a good enforcement, good advertising, a No Refusal weekend, good laws and thoughtful, caring people, they are down by 9 so far this month. We have lost 52 of our friends and families this month. May they rest in peace.

Wear a seat belt, drive sober and defensively, slow down and put the phone in the glove compartment until you stop!

Kenny Britt and professional athletes

So what's the big deal about Kenny Britt? He joins thousands of other idiots in proving that alcohol will make you stupid. Drinking impairs judgment. Judgment is necessary to make responsible decisions. People must have a plan for getting home if they are going out to consume alcohol. What makes the Britt story different is simply that he is a millionaire and did not spend the cash to call a cab. It isn't like he did not have money to pay for transportation.
He should not be judged differently, because of his profession. There are a lot more professional athletes who make good decisions and protect themselves and the public. This guy did something dumb and dangerous and should be convicted if guilty in the same way as  thousands of others who commit this thoughtless, selfish crime.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Great to have Dr. Citek and Dr. Ferslew visit

For all who attended training at Fall Creek Falls this week, here is a little video for the memory bank.

video

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Congress passes, Obama signs ban of bath salts and synthetic drugs

The Feds have now joined numerous States, Counties and Cities in banning synthetic drugs. See the article from a New York news channel:

Schumer's bill for federal ban on bath salts signed into law by President | NBC-WKTV News Channel 2 - Utica News, Weather, Sports - | Local News

Class picture

Class picture from our seminar at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Today is a day on which we focus on Toxicology issues causing impaired driving by alcohol, drugs and synthetic drugs.

Boating Under the Influence Tests

The Southern California Research Institute has validated Boating under the influence standardized tests, which can be performed on a boat without transporting a boater to land to test the person.
To learn about the standardized tests watch the 8 minute video and you can go to the link to read the validation study.
Go to:
NASBLA - Operation DryWater 2012

Motorcycle fatalities are up 22%

A story in the Tennessean describes the latest motorcycle fatality. Andre Vaughn, a 54 year old biker died when he was unable to avoid an SUV, which allegedly turned in front of him.  Andre was our 78th motorcycle victim this year. The investigation and charging decision is still pending against the driver of the SUV. Read the story at:
Nashville police identify motorcyclist killed | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Please look twice before pulling out at an intersection!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Crashes in 2012 in Tennessee

90,798 Total crashes so far!
22,137 with injuries;
469 with a fatality;
68,192 with property damage;
32,089 Total Injuries;
513 Total fatalities.

Slow down, Drive Sober and Hang up the phone and texting devise.

Who's going to die in a crash?

While culling through data on TITAN, I discovered a statistic I thought was surprising.
When we had recorded 506 fatalities,
71   (13%) were under 25;
60   (11%)were between 25 and 35;
71   (13%) were between 35-45;
108 (21%) were 45-55;
94   (18%)   were 55-65;
58   (11%)  were 65-75;
44   (08%) were 75 +



Oxycontin users are switching to heroin

The manufacturers of oxycontin changed the formula for the drug to prevent misuse. What's a drug addict going to do? Switch drugs. Apparently the drug of choice is now heroin and the numbers are troubling. Read about a study from researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. The study was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


http://dryspace.org/2012/07/12/oxycontin-change-has-many-switching-to-heroin/

Friday, July 13, 2012

No Refusal Weekend---A Life Saving Event

The numbers are in. The most important number is ZERO. In the 5 counties participating through the Dept of Safety event, there were no traffic fatalities over the 4th of July period. That's ZERO.
In the State there were 17 fatalities, eight of which were alcohol related.

During the enforcement period there were 45 DUI arrests and test results in all 45 cases. There were 10 search warrants issued. Results were obtained by consent in the other 35 cases.

The ultimate goal of the enforcement was to protect the public. It appears to have worked better than anyone could have imagined! Thanks to all who participated.

‘No Refusal’ claims 2 local DUI arrests

The Cleveland Daily Banner report on the No Refusal weekend:


‘No Refusal’ claims 2 local DUI arrests: Two DUI arrests were made during the weekend and a July 4 holiday blitz where the Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement performed the state’s first-ever “No Refusal” operation. Five co...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

DUI DNA leads to murder charge

Here is a costly DUI! After pleading guilty in Missouri this offender had to give a DNA sample for the DNA databank. Turns out his DNA was linked to an unsolved murder. The lesson is pretty simple. Don't drive drunk if you have a murder in your background......or any other time.
DWI leads to Missouri man's arrest in cold case killing | Fox News

Friday, July 6, 2012

Maynardville DUI driver injures 5 including her kids

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports a woman in Maynardville has been charged with DUI and other charges after crossing into oncoming traffic and crashing into another car. Her children were not in child restraint devices. Five people were injured. This was not in a No Refusal county. Read about it at:

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jul/05/driver-in-maynardville-crash-facing-dui-charge/?partner=yahoo_feeds

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Can repeat offenders be stopped?

Natalie Alund of the Knoxville News Sentinel researched and wrote a series of articles about DUI issues. The link below includes the series finale. Thank you for you the outstanding effort Ms. Alund.


Repeat DUI offenders: Can they be stopped? » Knoxville News Sentinel

Jury Awards Multi-Million Dollar Verdict To DUI Victim

Go to the link to see the story about this verdict. Jessica still deals with her injuries. The driver has been released from prison. Let's hope he wins the lottery and she gets every dime.

Jury Awards Multi-Million Dollar Verdict To DUI Victim: Jessica Volz moved to Nashville Friday, three days after a Chattanooga jury awarded the drunk driving victim $9.25 million for a 2008 drunk driving wreck.

Mid-State man arrested for 15th DUI - WKRN, Nashville News, Nashville Weather and Sports

Mid-State man arrested for 15th DUI - WKRN, Nashville News, Nashville Weather and Sports

This story includes an interview with defense attorney David Raybin, who comments that there is no law to hold people who reoffend over and over again for long periods of time.

WZTV FOX 17 :: Newsroom - Top Stories - Agencies Target Impaired Drivers in a Way They Never Have Before

WZTV FOX 17 :: Newsroom - Top Stories - Agencies Target Impaired Drivers in a Way They Never Have Before

This story focuses on Warren County, which has had 11 fatal crashes already this year.

Knoxville No Refusal Effort

Area law enforcement to implement new law in 'No Refusal Weekend' » Knoxville News Sentinel

Police plan ‘No Refusal’ enforcement in Maury Co. | Columbia Daily Herald

Police plan ‘No Refusal’ enforcement in Maury Co. | Columbia Daily Herald

'No Refusal' Campaign Kicks Off Tuesday

'No Refusal' Campaign Kicks Off Tuesday: Tennessee law enforcement officials are intensifying their crackdown on drunken driving with the state's first-ever "no refusal" campaign.

Here is the channel 5 coverage

State enforces 'No refusal' campaign over holiday weekend

State enforces 'No refusal' campaign over holiday weekend: The enforcement period begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, and will continue through Midnight, Sunday, July 8.

This is the channel 2 coverage.

'No refusal' campaign targets drivers suspected of DUI

'No refusal' campaign targets drivers suspected of DUI: Tennessee law enforcement officials are intensifying their crackdown on drunken driving with the state's first-ever "no refusal" campaign. (7/2/12)br /

Monday, July 2, 2012

No Refusal 4th of July.

Five counties in Tennessee will participate in the first No Refusal campaign in this State beginning at 6:00 pm on Tuesday. They include Davidson, Maury, Bradley, Anderson and Warren counties. This is the first "No Refusal" weekend in Tennessee, but they are common in other States. This effort was made possible by the passage of a new law promoted by the District Attorneys General permitting Judges to issue search warrants in DUI cases in Tennessee. The sponsors of the law were Representative Tony Shipley and Senator Doug Overbey. The bottom line is offenders arrested for DUI will have their blood tested, if they refuse a breath or blood test, if the Judge decides their is probable cause to believe such a blood test would result in the discovery of evidence proving guilt. The tests would be conducted by someone authorized to draw blood listed in TCA 55-10-406. The best way to avoid a blood test and a conviction is to drive sober or not at all!

Read more at:
Department of Safety & Homeland Security, Local & State Officials Announce New “No Refusal” Enforcement | TN.gov Newsroom

Vacation is over and the Appellate Courts kept working


This TSRP took two weeks off and enjoyed being at home and away from the computer. During the break the Courts kept issuing opinions, so here is my humble attempt to catch up:

State v Vandergriff issued June 28th:
Mr. Vandergriff was stopped in the middle of a 2 lane highway. A deputy had to slam on his brakes to keep from hitting him. The deputy did not suspect a crime, but thought the pick up truck was broken down. He activated his blue lights, so that other cars would not slam into his patrol car or Vandergriff. The conviction was upheld. The defendant argued the deputy activated his blue lights without reasonable suspicion. He did just that. The Court stated:
"To expect this officer to nearly slam into a parked car on a public roadway after dark with moderate traffic in the area - and not allow him to stop and investigate following the activation of his blue lights for safety reasons - is not logical. Indeed, to not take that action could result in a violation of the officer’s caretaking duty to other motorists to ensure their safety on the roadway."
Read about it at:

State v Gaddis issue June 25th

Mr. Gaddis was in a crash in which the investigating trooper concluded that he pulled out in front of a pick-up truck and was struck from the side. he had a BAC over .20 and was a second time offender.
Gaddis claimed at trial that an ex girlfriend had pushed him into the intersection from behind. The jury rejected the defense and his conviction was affirmed. 
Read the case at:

State v Young, issued June 22nd

Mr. Young refused to perform standardized field sobriety tests and refused to take a blood test. Then he argued that the State did not have enough evidence to convict, because all the State had was the observations made by the officer and a video showing some bad driving. The driving included a u-turn and a wide turn in which he veered into a ditch. He had slurred speech, was disoriented and took over a minute to get his license from his wallet. The Court stated, 
"We note that this court has consistently held that an arresting officer’s testimony alone is sufficient to support a defendant’s conviction for DUI."
Read the case at:

I think that catches me up on the decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Now, it is time to read the new Federal Transportation Act passed last week.