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December 2014 Archives

No Right to Courtroom Demonstration of Field Sobriety Test

A field sobriety test is an investigative tool used by law enforcement officers investigating suspected intoxication. Generally, when a criminal trial involves the question of whether a particular person was intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs, and when one or more field sobriety tests were used in the investigation, a police officer may testify about the tests given and the suspect's performance. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Cooper, M2013-01084-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 12-17-2014), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling denying the defense request for a courtroom demonstration of one of the tests about which testimony was presented.

No Right to Courtroom Demonstration of Field Sobriety Test

A field sobriety test is an investigative tool used by law enforcement officers investigating suspected intoxication. Generally, when a criminal trial involves the question of whether a particular person was intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs, and when one or more field sobriety tests were used in the investigation, a police officer may testify about the tests given and the suspect's performance. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Cooper, M2013-01084-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 12-17-2014), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling denying the defense request for a courtroom demonstration of one of the tests about which testimony was presented.

Alleged drunk driving leads to church van roll-over

The consequences of a conviction for drunk driving in Tennessee can affect not only the drunk driver, but also his or her family. The suspension of a driver's license alone can cause numerous problems in an individual's day-to-day life. In addition, a convicted drunk driver may face incarceration, high fines and an increase in vehicle insurance premiums. Drivers who are suspected of drunk driving may find comfort in knowing that they will be afforded the opportunity to defend themselves in court.

Conviction Reversed Due to Witness Sequestration Violation

In a criminal trial, sequestration of witnesses refers to preventing witnesses who may testify in the trial from hearing the testimony offered by other witnesses. The purpose of the rule is to prevent witness testimony from being affected by hearing what an earlier testifying witness has said. Though a prosecutor may sometimes keep an investigator or other party essential to the presentation of the case at the prosecutor's table during trial, that person should generally be called as the first witness in the State's case if that person intends to testify at all. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Cooper, M2013-01084-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 12-17-2014), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a conviction due to the State's violation of this principle.

Conviction Reversed Due to Witness Sequestration Violation

In a criminal trial, sequestration of witnesses refers to preventing witnesses who may testify in the trial from hearing the testimony offered by other witnesses. The purpose of the rule is to prevent witness testimony from being affected by hearing what an earlier testifying witness has said. Though a prosecutor may sometimes keep an investigator or other party essential to the presentation of the case at the prosecutor's table during trial, that person should generally be called as the first witness in the State's case if that person intends to testify at all. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Cooper, M2013-01084-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 12-17-2014), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a conviction due to the State's violation of this principle.

Tennessee police charge Jaguar driver with drunk driving

Getting pulled over for a minor traffic violation is not a big deal in the grand scheme of life. However, being charged with drunk driving -- along with other alleged offenses -- can have a far-reaching negative impact on one's life, especially if the state were to gain a conviction. One Tennessee driver was recently arrested on multiple charges.

Tennessee laws governing vehicular homicide

When a person is arrested following a serious or fatal traffic accident in Tennessee, the negative consequences of a conviction can have a far-reaching impact on his or her life. If the wreck resulted in a death, the driver found at fault could face a range of punishments that are dependent upon the charge or charges leveled against him or her. Many of those charged in connection with fatal accidents find themselves facing one of two types of charges for vehicular homicide

Court Approves Statute Allowing Video Hearsay Statements from Children

Generally, hearsay statements, which are extrajudicial assertions of testimonial facts, are not admissible in criminal trials in Tennessee. However, the Rules of Evidence provide specific exceptions and indicate other exceptions could apply as well. In 2009, the Tennessee Legislature passed a law specifically allowing for the admission into evidence of relevant video hearsay statements of children under the age of thirteen when the statements describe sex abuse and when, in the judgment of the trial court, a list of criteria is met which is designed to ensure the reliability of the statements. In the recent case of State v. McCoy, M2013-00912-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. 12-1-2014), the Tennessee Supreme Court addressed constitutional challenges to this evidentiary statute and approved its constitutionality and application.

Court Approves Statute Allowing Video Hearsay Statements from Children

Generally, hearsay statements, which are extrajudicial assertions of testimonial facts, are not admissible in criminal trials in Tennessee. However, the Rules of Evidence provide specific exceptions and indicate other exceptions could apply as well. In 2009, the Tennessee Legislature passed a law specifically allowing for the admission into evidence of relevant video hearsay statements of children under the age of thirteen when the statements describe sex abuse and when, in the judgment of the trial court, a list of criteria is met which is designed to ensure the reliability of the statements. In the recent case of State v. McCoy, M2013-00912-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. 12-1-2014), the Tennessee Supreme Court addressed constitutional challenges to this evidentiary statute and approved its constitutionality and application.

Tennessee man faces vehicular homicide after wreck kills son

Being charged with a DUI -- especially if it is not the first time -- can result in serious penalties and fines if a conviction is ultimately gained by the state. However, one Tennessee man is facing a nightmare situation since he has been charged with vehicular homicide in the death of his own son. The wreck also caused injury to his nephew as well.

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