Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Recent Activity in the General Assembly

Both houses of the General Assembly will vote soon on the DUI child endangerment bill. The bill will assure that DUI offenders with a child passenger receive a 30 day consecutive sentence for endangering the child.
Currently first offenders receive a 30 day sentence, but multiple offenders do not. This error will be corrected soon. Both Judiciary Committees have unanimously passed the bill.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Criminal Responsibility in the News

Once again the criminal responsibility for the conduct of another status in our Tennessee law has hit the news. The Tennessean in an article by Brandon Gee asks whether a bar could be held responsible for the actions of an impaired customer. They have not touched the liability issue concerning parental hosts, who feed alcohol to teen partiers or the methadone clinic that gives a week of doses to an addict in one visit and crashes into a family or the pill mill that supplies drugs to an abuser without checking him/her out. All of the above could be in a relationship, which puts them in a category of responsibility under our law.

Read the article at:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Criminal Responsibility in the News

The Tennessean ran a story this weekend about a woman who has been charged with vehicular homicide by criminal responsibility for the conduct of another.
For those who don't know, this is not a new law. Prior to changes in the code this crime was called aiding and abetting. In 1990 in State v Brown, Robert Brown allowed his drunken brother to drive his car resulting in both being convicted. Their crimes were affirmed in the Court of Criminal Appeals. In September 1991 Tina Williamson allowed another impaired person drive her vehicle in Smyna. After the crash Williamson was convicted and the conviction was affirmed in 1995. The newspaper tells about another case, State v Pierce. In it Pierce in 2004 permitted an impaired driver to drive, crash and kill and his conviction was affirmed in 2006.
Criminal Responsibility for the conduct of another is charged in other crimes as well. The get- away driver in a robbery is every bit as responsible for what happens in a robbery as the gunman. In a drag race the person who drops the flag is as responsible for the outcome of a deadly race as are the drivers. In a shooting, if the shooter is using your gun with your knowledge and kills someone.....
The driver in the case featured in the Tennessean is presumed innocent and in time there will be an outcome. There is no point in speculating about such things and in fact it is probably unethical for any lawyer to speculate about the outcome of a pending criminal case.
The lesson of the article is clear. Don't ever let a person drive your car while impaired or hold up your favorite gas station, or borrow your gun to shoot someone. You may end on trial due to his/her actions.
Read the story in the Tennessean at:
Hermitage woman faces vehicular homicide after handing over keys to boyfriend | The Tennessean |

Thursday, February 16, 2012

DUI Driver with unbelted child in car was watching TV!

A man in Memphis installed a large tv screen on his dashboard. Then he allegedly drove drunk and ran into another car. He is facing DUI 3rd offense charges and many others including child endangerment.
The woman who had her car struck is interviewed in this story at the Med. She was there, because the father of her sister's children was severely injured in another DUI crash this week.
Watch this story and hear her interview on WREG Memphis at:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DUI suspect had infant in lap while driving

A 28 year old Kingsport woman was stopped in an apartment complex lot and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. That is not uncommon in East Tennessee. This was uncommon in that she had an infant on her lap. Read the story at:

Motorcycles and Helmets

The Jackson Sun includes an opinion piece in today's edition concerning legislation to permit motorcyclists to drive and ride without a helmet. The Sun is against the motorcycle helmet repeal attempt. The opinion piece includes information about dire consequences that followed a helmet repeal in Pennsylvania. It states, "A study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2008 showed a 66 percent increase in deaths due to head injuries and a 25 percent increase in non-head-injury deaths in Pennsylvania after that state changed its law, according to AAA."
I believe Tennessee taxpayers would be on the hook for a lot of money, if this law passed. It is the taxpayer that funds the medical costs of the brain injured motorcyclist and the care of widows and orphans. I know the motorcycle riders like the feel of the wind in their hair, but I don't know how many citizens want to pay extra money to support that cool feeling.
Read the Sun opinion at:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Breast milk homicide

A California woman has pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter after her baby died from meth tainted breast milk. The six month old child was taken to the hospital when he quit breathing. Toxicology results proved methamphetamine toxicity was the cause of death. This was the first voluntary homicide conviction in California for a breast milk homicide.
Read about it at:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Surprise, Surprise...Marijuana Smokers are lousy drivers

Experts examined 9 studies and came to some conclusions about pot smokers. Read about it at:

Tennessee driver learns Kentucky law the hard way!

A Nashville driver has learned that they don't mess around with DUI death cases in the Big Blue land to our north. Robert Kempf, 51, of Nashville flipped his corvette, while driving at a high rate of speed in Louisville. Now he faces murder and DUI charges and a $250,000 cash bond after his passenger died in the crash.
Read about it in the Louisville Courier Jounal at:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

House Bill 2466 passes in House Judiciary Committee

HB 2466 was unanimously passed in the House Judiciary Committee this morning. The bill mandates that if a person is involved in a crash causing serious bodily injury or death and the person has committed a violation for which he would otherwise qualify for a citation, then that person is to be arrested if he/she does not have a driver's license and proof of financial responsibility.

Rep. Carr spoke to the committee about a case in Clarksville in which a motorcyclist was killed and the driver who hit him was given a citation. The driver had no license or insurance and has never returned or been found since the crash. Since he was given a citation and permitted to leave with a licensed driver, there was no booking photo, no jail intake information, no I.N.S. check and no other record check. Now there is no defendant and the victims' family has no recourse.

The bill will now be considered by the Calendar Committee, the full House and then on it goes to the Senate.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Memphis reporter focuses on increase in female impaired driving

Beth Warren of the Memphis Commercial Appeal has written a story tracking the increase in impaired female drivers over the last 10 years. She points out that the great majority of impaired drivers are still male, but women are regrettably catching up. Read this excellent piece and ignore the sentence that says I am a former prosecutor at:

Apple Tree Far Fall

A news item today appears to prove that the apple did not fall far from the tree with one Pennsylvania family. Dad drove drunk to pick up his son from the jail after his DUI arrest.
Let's see now, when the call comes in that says, "dad come get me at the jail. I got a DUI", perhaps the dad should not respond with, "sure, but let me finish my beer first". There are some people who are not good examples for their kids and this person appears to be one of them! Read about it at:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New DUI Decision from the CCA

The Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed the DUI 3rd offense conviction of a defendant in Madison County. At trial he claimed his buddy must have been the driver.
The defendant, Dennis Wayne Brewer, was found sleeping in his pick up truck that was laying on it's side in a ditch. Brewer was alone and never indicated any one else had been in or near the scene of the crash. Brewer had a blood alcohol level of .23.
At trial Brewer testified that his buddy must have been driving and came up with theories of why that must have been the case. The jury did not buy the theories or the defense. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction. The prosecutor in the case was Anna Cash.
Read the case at:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Training opportunity

If you
1) are a Tennessee Prosecutor and
2) you have a pending Vehicular Homicide case
3) did not attend the vehicular homicide training course in Gatlinburg last summer,

contact Tom Kimball at: as soon as possible for a nice training opportunity. We have a limited number of slots available for a joint training class in Lexington, Kentucky the week of June 4th.