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.)

 


Representative DesJarlais Introduces The Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act

Representative Scott DesJarlais has introduced H.R. 2874, the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act.  Lance Corporal Andrew P. Carpenter of Columbia, Tn. lost his life on February 19, 2011, while serving his country in Afghanistan. Three years prior to his tour of duty, Lance Corporal Carpenter took out a private student loan. Although this loan was ultimately forgiven by the loan ... (click for more)

Supreme Court Determines Assignment Of Insurance Proceeds Was Not Effective

The Tennessee Supreme Court has determined that a Nashville chiropractic clinic’s patient did not effectively assign his rights to insurance proceeds received from a third party’s insurance company.   The case stems from a 2011 automobile accident that injured defendant Prentice Delon Hyler.   Action Chiropractic Clinic in Nashville treated Mr. Hyler for injuries ... (click for more)

Work Set To Restart On Chickamauga Lock This Year

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $3 million that Congress provided for fiscal year 2015 to restart construction on Chickamauga Lock this year, Senator Lamar Alexander and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann announced. “We need to replace Chickamauga Lock before it fails, and I talked with Secretary Darcy today to thank her for making this project a priority by deciding to restart ... (click for more)

Boyd Asks Coppinger For Public Apology; Does Not Get One

County Commissioner Tim Boyd on Wednesday morning read a letter in which he asked County Mayor Jim Coppinger for a public apology. However, he did not get one. Instead, County Mayor Coppinger called remarks last Wednesday by Commissioner Boyd that the county mayor had $4.4 million in discretionary funds "ridiculous." He said that money includes such items as the Humane Educational ... (click for more)

Police Need To Stop The Road Cowboys - And Response

Where is our highway patrol?  If they were known to regularly patrol our interstate highways through our city I don't think it would take long before the "truckers" were aware of it.  There are places in our country where this is the case.   When I have traveled Interstates 24 and 75 I may see the occasional car pulled over but rarely if ever is it an 18-wheeler. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden This July

As the month of July dawns this morning, a walk through my garden shows some flowers blooming, my marigolds dying, and the grass is greener than I thought it would be. But as I look for what’s good and what’s bad, let’s remember that some firecrackers pop while others fizzle. Here we go… A BANG to career criminal Whitely Bulger, the 85-year-old master criminal who in a recent ... (click for more)