Lee Davis: Tennessee Court Of Criminal Appeals Affirms Positive Drug Test Means Incarceration

Sunday, May 27, 2012 - by Attorney Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Terry Thomas appeals the revocation of his community corrections sentence in a recent case before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, claiming that the trial court erred by ordering him back to confinement for a twenty year sentence after a failed drug test. The Court here found no issue with the trial court’s ruling and affirmed it. 

Thomas was charged with possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine in a school zone, intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, carrying a knife with a blade longer than four inches and driving on a suspended license. He pled guilty and was given a 20-year sentence to be served on community corrections.
 

In April 2011 a violation warrant was issued for Thomas after he tested positive for additional cocaine use. At the revocation hearing the community corrections officer, April Story, discussed how Thomas tested positive during a drug screen earlier that month. Thomas never asked for a second, confirmation test and Ms. Story admitted that besides the one positive test and occasional spotty attendance at drug treatment classes, Thomas had been in compliance with the rest of the terms of his sentence. 

Thomas claims to have been shocked by the positive test, denying he used cocaine. He said he had been working as an apprentice for an electrician and attended HVAC classes at night. He said friends had used the drug at his home recently but he had not shared in the experience. Thomas did admit to not living with his father as he had said he would and to not attending Bible college as promised. He further admitted to spotty drug treatment attendance but blamed his rigorous work schedule. 

The trial court considered the matter carefully and ultimately decided to revoke his community corrections placement, ordering that he serve the balance of his time in confinement. The court deemed the defendant’s testimony at the revocation hearing “not credible” and said it had to act to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Tennessee. 

The defendant believes the lower court abused its discretion by ordering him back to confinement and turned to the Court of Criminal Appeals for help. The Court mentioned that despite Thomas’ shock at his positive test he never took the next step of asking for a retest or even contesting the result. The Court held that the record supports the trial court’s decision and, as Thomas had been shown plenty of leniency by the judicial system, the Court was not inclined to give Thomas relief. 

To read the full opinion, click here.

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)

 


Chattanooga Chamber Business Calendar Feb. 13-20

Calendar of Events:  February 13-20 TUES/2.16- Red Bank Chamber Council Meeting 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Red Bank Community Center: Tom Weathers Drive Brief presentation form Mayor John Roberts on the State of the City followed by speaker Emma Flynn, a local attorney. Meetings cost $10.   WED/2.17- Ooltewah/Collegedale Chamber Council ... (click for more)

Supreme Court Rules Police Stops For Crossing Roadway Markings Do Not Violate Motorists’ Constitutional Rights

In two cases involving motorists crossing roadway markings – one a double yellow centerline and another the right lane “fog line” – the Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the officers’ seizures of the vehicles’ drivers, both of whom also were charged with DUI.  In one case out of Williamson County, Linzey Smith was traveling north on I-65 at 3 ... (click for more)

County School Board Considers "Best Practices Audit" On Compliance With Board Policies

The County School Board is considering carrying out a "Best Practices Audit" to determine if board policies are filtering down to the school level. Board member Greg Martin said members of the Superintendent's Student Leadership Council told him that only a fraction of students are familiar with board policies on bullying and other topics. Steve Highlander, another board member, ... (click for more)

Several Central City Schools Overcrowded, School Board Is Told

All the county school overcrowding is not out in the fast-growing East Brainerd and Ooltewah sections, school board members were told Thursday. Several central city schools are far above capacity. East Lake Elementary - with 655 students and a capacity of 493 students - is at 133 percent occupancy. Calvin Donaldson, Orchard Knob Elementary and East Side Elementary also are ... (click for more)

Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Even Athletes

From reading Randy Smith's column on the lawsuit against UT it is pretty evident that he never took a legal course in his life. I was under the impression that in this country one was innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It appears this no longer applies to athletes(particularly black athletes) in the U.S. in 2016. I have always said that if I am picked for jury duty ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Chatt2.org’ Needs You Now

A diverse yet powerful panel of community leaders in Nashville delivered a letter to the Metro Nashville Board of Education last week. It was signed by some top men and women who represent a wide-ranking cross section of the Tennessee’s largest city and includes education, business, religious and diversity superstars. You need to understand the urgency behind the letter. Davidson ... (click for more)