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August 2013 Archives

Forfeiture Against Home Valid in Sexual Exploitation Case

Tennessee law allows for the forfeiture of property used to facilitate the commission of crimes. Judicial forfeiture is a civil proceeding against property, though it typically arises out of circumstances which are also the subject of a criminal proceeding against a person. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Sprunger, E2011-02573-COA-R3-CV (Tenn.App. 8-26-2013), the Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling seizing a home where the Defendant had operated a computer he used to commit the offense of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Forfeiture Against Home Valid in Sexual Exploitation Case

Tennessee law allows for the forfeiture of property used to facilitate the commission of crimes. Judicial forfeiture is a civil proceeding against property, though it typically arises out of circumstances which are also the subject of a criminal proceeding against a person. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Sprunger, E2011-02573-COA-R3-CV (Tenn.App. 8-26-2013), the Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling seizing a home where the Defendant had operated a computer he used to commit the offense of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Forfeiture Against Home Valid in Sexual Exploitation Case

Tennessee law allows for the forfeiture of property used to facilitate the commission of crimes. Judicial forfeiture is a civil proceeding against property, though it typically arises out of circumstances which are also the subject of a criminal proceeding against a person. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Sprunger, E2011-02573-COA-R3-CV (Tenn.App. 8-26-2013), the Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling seizing a home where the Defendant had operated a computer he used to commit the offense of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Tennessee man was charged with drunk driving after fatal accident

Alcohol use is a major part of American society. Though it is found acceptable and even enjoyable by some, driving under the influence is a modern taboo. Drunk driving is sometimes the cause of an accident, but a crash can also be just a mistake. Unfortunately, a car accident killed a woman in Tennessee, and now a man is being charged with drunk driving.

DUI case dismissed after video of failed sobriety test lost

The DUI charges against a Warren County woman were dismissed when the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the trial court that the missing evidence would prevent her from receiving a fair trial. The evidence in question was the video from the police vehicle that pulled her over for an improper lane change. According to the prosecution, the video recorded the initial stop, the failed sobriety test and the woman's subsequent arrest for DUI.

Video Deposition Can be Permissible in a Criminal Trial

Depositions, though common in civil litigation, are not often part of a criminal trial or criminal discovery process in Tennessee. A conventional method of pre-trial discovery in a civil case, depositions are used only under exceptional circumstances in Tennessee criminal cases, and are only supposed to be used to preserve testimony for use at trial, from a witness not likely to be able to testify at trial. Their purpose is limited to preserving evidence for trial, rather than for pre-trial discovery. The decision of whether to grant or deny a motion to depose a witness in a criminal case is discretionary with the trial court. But the trial court must follow narrow guidelines for determining when exceptional circumstances exist. In the recent case of State v. Gold, E2012-00387-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-15-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to allow the State to depose a witness who would be relocating outside the United States, and affirmed the use of the video at trial.

Video Deposition Can be Permissible in a Criminal Trial

Depositions, though common in civil litigation, are not often part of a criminal trial or criminal discovery process in Tennessee. A conventional method of pre-trial discovery in a civil case, depositions are used only under exceptional circumstances in Tennessee criminal cases, and are only supposed to be used to preserve testimony for use at trial, from a witness not likely to be able to testify at trial. Their purpose is limited to preserving evidence for trial, rather than for pre-trial discovery. The decision of whether to grant or deny a motion to depose a witness in a criminal case is discretionary with the trial court. But the trial court must follow narrow guidelines for determining when exceptional circumstances exist. In the recent case of State v. Gold, E2012-00387-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-15-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to allow the State to depose a witness who would be relocating outside the United States, and affirmed the use of the video at trial.

Video Deposition Can be Permissible in a Criminal Trial

Depositions, though common in civil litigation, are not often part of a criminal trial or criminal discovery process in Tennessee. A conventional method of pre-trial discovery in a civil case, depositions are used only under exceptional circumstances in Tennessee criminal cases, and are only supposed to be used to preserve testimony for use at trial, from a witness not likely to be able to testify at trial. Their purpose is limited to preserving evidence for trial, rather than for pre-trial discovery. The decision of whether to grant or deny a motion to depose a witness in a criminal case is discretionary with the trial court. But the trial court must follow narrow guidelines for determining when exceptional circumstances exist. In the recent case of State v. Gold, E2012-00387-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-15-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to allow the State to depose a witness who would be relocating outside the United States, and affirmed the use of the video at trial.

Tennessee man charged with drunk driving for third time

Alcohol has been part of the United States for many years, and continues to be prominent in current society. In moderation, the majority of the public find it acceptable, but when used too much it can be followed by very dangerous situations and actions. Even if the person thinks they are fine, the law may disagree. When this happens the person can get into major trouble, including spending time in jail. A Tennessee man was charged with drunk driving for the third time recently following a car accident.

Inadequate Record of the Evidence Results in Dismissal of Appeal

Evidence introduced in a criminal trial is usually preserved by a transcript of the witness testimony and preservation of exhibits. Using a good court reporter is the preferred and most reliable way of recording the witness testimony. However, if no court reporter is present to create a transcript of the testimony, it is still possible to file a written statement of the evidence, agreed to by the parties, with disputes resolved by the trial court judge. Though people convicted of a crime at trial have a right of appeal of that conviction, an appellate court can only review the case if there is a reliable record of what happened in the trial court. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Reller, E2012-01842-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-6-2013), an appeal of a criminal conviction was dismissed because there was no transcript or statement of the evidence in the record for the appellate court to review.

Inadequate Record of the Evidence Results in Dismissal of Appeal

Evidence introduced in a criminal trial is usually preserved by a transcript of the witness testimony and preservation of exhibits. Using a good court reporter is the preferred and most reliable way of recording the witness testimony. However, if no court reporter is present to create a transcript of the testimony, it is still possible to file a written statement of the evidence, agreed to by the parties, with disputes resolved by the trial court judge. Though people convicted of a crime at trial have a right of appeal of that conviction, an appellate court can only review the case if there is a reliable record of what happened in the trial court. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Reller, E2012-01842-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-6-2013), an appeal of a criminal conviction was dismissed because there was no transcript or statement of the evidence in the record for the appellate court to review.

Inadequate Record of the Evidence Results in Dismissal of Appeal

Evidence introduced in a criminal trial is usually preserved by a transcript of the witness testimony and preservation of exhibits. Using a good court reporter is the preferred and most reliable way of recording the witness testimony. However, if no court reporter is present to create a transcript of the testimony, it is still possible to file a written statement of the evidence, agreed to by the parties, with disputes resolved by the trial court judge. Though people convicted of a crime at trial have a right of appeal of that conviction, an appellate court can only review the case if there is a reliable record of what happened in the trial court. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Reller, E2012-01842-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-6-2013), an appeal of a criminal conviction was dismissed because there was no transcript or statement of the evidence in the record for the appellate court to review.

Denial of Mistrial Affirmed for Witness Reference to Polygraph

A mistrial may be declared in a criminal trial when the trial cannot continue without a miscarriage of justice. The decision of whether to declare a mistrial is discretionary with the trial court. Mistrials due to evidentiary errors at trial are rare, as often an evidentiary error can be corrected with some alternative remedy or instruction, and the trial can continue. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Wooten, M2012-00366-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-6-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of a mistrial when a State's witness testified that she asked the Defendant to take a polygraph examination.

Denial of Mistrial Affirmed for Witness Reference to Polygraph

A mistrial may be declared in a criminal trial when the trial cannot continue without a miscarriage of justice. The decision of whether to declare a mistrial is discretionary with the trial court. Mistrials due to evidentiary errors at trial are rare, as often an evidentiary error can be corrected with some alternative remedy or instruction, and the trial can continue. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Wooten, M2012-00366-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-6-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of a mistrial when a State's witness testified that she asked the Defendant to take a polygraph examination.

Denial of Mistrial Affirmed for Witness Reference to Polygraph

A mistrial may be declared in a criminal trial when the trial cannot continue without a miscarriage of justice. The decision of whether to declare a mistrial is discretionary with the trial court. Mistrials due to evidentiary errors at trial are rare, as often an evidentiary error can be corrected with some alternative remedy or instruction, and the trial can continue. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Wooten, M2012-00366-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-6-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of a mistrial when a State's witness testified that she asked the Defendant to take a polygraph examination.

Tennessee woman charged with vehicular homicide

The public is often aware of the trauma that a victim can face shortly after an accident, but they are often not mindful of the hard months that follow an accident for those accused of causing it. The months leading up to the actual trial can be very hard on a person thrown into the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, a Tennessee woman was charged with vehicular homicide after she allegedly caused an accident that killed two people back in March.

Are Tennessee laws followed in drunk driving stop?

The release of a video by a man stopped at a DUI checkpoint has raised some concerns by citizens. A Tennessee college student recorded a drunk driving stop that was being conducted by a local Sheriff's Department where he claims his Constitutional rights were violated. After six days, the Sheriff's department responded that they believe that their officers fully complied with the man's rights.

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