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.

Walker County, Ga., Receives $84,337 From ACCG Insurance Programs

Walker County has received a check for $84,337 from ACCG Insurance Programs. The funds represent Walker County’s share of a $5 million one-time special return from ACCG. ACCG is Georgia’s county association and works on behalf of county officials and their communities by providing public policy and legislative advocacy, leadership development, civic and community engagement ... (click for more)

Walbridge, Brown Brothers Settle Lawsuit Over Enterprise South Work

The contractor Walbridge, which has built portions of the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant, has settled a lawsuit brought by Brown Brothers. The complaint in Chancery Court related to work performed at a VW supplier, Plastic Omnium Auto Exteriors. The work was at a new injection molding plant at 3241 Hickory Valley Road. Under terms of the settlement, Walbridge will pay Brown ... (click for more)

Avocet Hospitality Group Acquires The Read House; Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation Planned For The Historic Chattanooga Property

Historic Read House Associates, LLC, a subsidiary of Avocet Hospitality Group (AHG), on Wednesday announced the acquisition of The Read House in downtown Chattanooga. The seller, Read House Investors, LP , has owned the property since 1994 and entered a sale agreement with AHG in May. Hodges Ward Elliott represented and advised the seller in the transaction. The 242-room ... (click for more)

Judge Says Dyer, Brennan Can Obtain Loans From Friends And Families After Affidavits Are Filed

Federal Judge Travis McDonough ruled Wednesday that two Chattanooga men who were charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with defrauding a large number of investors can obtain loans from friends and family to pay attorneys and for living expenses. However, he said details of the loans must be spelled out in affidavits that he and the SEC must approve. The loans to Doug ... (click for more)

Colin Kaepernick Is The Epitome Of American Patriotism - And Response (2)

As the mother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, and former wife of present active duty and veterans several times over, it isn't the patriotism of NFL player Colin Kaepernick I question, but the patriotism of those who are attacking him. Kaepernick is the epitome of all things this country is suppose to stand for and challenge. If he's attacked for taking a stand then everything this ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My September Garden

I am told it takes a mighty oak tree somewhere between 20 and 35 years before it produces acorns, this based on the species of the oak. But as I walk through my September Garden in my monthly custom, I do indeed believe that a mature oak can rain down as many as 90,000 acorns a year. I’ve already got enough for every squirrel between here and the Mississippi River. My friends ... (click for more)