Supreme Court Adopts New Standard Of Sentence Review

Friday, December 20, 2013

In March of 2006, the body of Jamil Branhan was found at his Nashville apartment.  His death was caused by two gunshot wounds to the head. After several months of investigation, police arrested James Allen Pollard, who was tried and found guilty of first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. 

The trial court sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment for the murder conviction plus an additional 18 years for the especially aggravated robbery. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions and the length of the sentences, but instructed the trial court to reconsider whether the evidence supported classifying Pollard as a dangerous offender—a proper ground for ordering consecutive sentences, in lieu of sentences that run together at the same time. 

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals, holding that the trial court failed to address the factors essential for the classification of Pollard as a dangerous offender. 

The ruling adopts an “abuse of discretion” standard when appellate courts are reviewing sentencing decisions of trial courts that have properly addressed sentencing factors on the record. The Supreme Court held that the trial court in this case had to identify a specific evidentiary basis before “stacking” the two sentences. This new standard provides trial judges with wide discretion in the imposition of sentences involving two or more crimes. 

To read the majority opinion in State of Tennessee v. James Allen Pollard authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.

FSG Bank Presents On Point A Check For $1,000

FSG Bank presented On Point with a check for $1,000 recently from funds raised during the organization’s “Change for Change” coin drive. Supporters made donations in coin canisters at FSG locations in Chattanooga during the spring. The funds will help support On Point’s mission and programs of local youth development. (click for more)

Attorney General Announces Settlement Allowing Dollar Tree To Acquire Family Dollar

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced Thursday the merger of two large national chains of deep discount stores, Dollar Tree, headquartered in Chesapeake, Va. and Family Dollar, headquartered in Matthews, NC. As part of the agreement, Dollar Tree will be required to divest hundreds of Family Dollar stores nationwide, including stores in Memphis and Nashville. ... (click for more)

Muslim Advocacy Group Questions House Arrest For Signal Mountain Man Charged In Threats Against Muslim Village In New York

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, on Saturday questioned the release of a Signal Mountain man who admitted to planning what it called "a Charleston-style terror attack" on a Muslim community in New York. CAIR also called for stepped up protection for the community targeted in the plot. Judge ... (click for more)

Plumbers Bring Complaints To WWTA; Told New Contracts Are Ready

Several plumbers on Thursday brought complaints to a committee of the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) and got little response other than being told that new contracts are ready. Kay Keefe of Keefe Plumbing said the small number of plumbing companies still participating in the program to repair leaky lines to homes, have long been operating without ... (click for more)

Could The Marriage Decision Spark A New Independence Day?

I confess that this year I am having a hard time with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day. It is not because I am not thankful to God for what was done on that day, what it represents, and the blessings I’ve experienced that flow from it. On the other hand, I want to think that maybe this year’s celebration will mark a period in our history in which a new movement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Dr. Tydings Is A Winner

One week from tomorrow the most important educator in the future of our community will start work as the new president of Chattanooga State. While I am normally cynical of beard-strokers and foundation-hungry dreamers who have little or no concept of the real world, I am convinced Flora Tydings will become the best thing to happen in our community in years. A grandmother with ... (click for more)