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.


Unemployment Rate Inches Up In Northwest Georgia

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said on Thursday that Northwest Georgia saw the number of unemployed residents climb and its unemployment rte tick up in October. The October unemployment rate, at 4.3 percent, was up from 4.1 percent in September. The unemployment rate rose as the number of unemployed residents increased by 391 to 17,800. The October rate compares favorably ... (click for more)

Supreme Court Holds Personal Signature Of Party Appealing In Parental Termination Case Not Required

The Tennessee Supreme Court concluded that a father’s notice of appeal, signed by his attorney, but not the father personally, satisfies the statutory signature requirement for appeals in parental termination cases.  The Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for consideration of the father’s appeal on the merits.    In this parental termination case, ... (click for more)

Hixson Burglary Suspect Tries To Swim Away; Deputies Catch Him In Borrowed Boat

A Hixson burglary suspect on Wednesday tried to swim away from deputies, but to no avail.   The proprietor of Chattanooga Fish and Fun was notified when his camera system was triggered by an individual attempting to break into his business. The owner immediately contacted the Sheriff's Office and drove to the business location.   As deputies arrived on scene, ... (click for more)

5 Disinherited Adopted Children Of Dr. J. Don Brock May Share In Rich Estate After All

Five disinherited adopted children of the late Chattanooga businessman J. Don Brock may share in his large estate after all. After losing at the trial court and appeals court level, the plaintiffs won a victory at the Tennessee Supreme Court. Justice Cornelia Clark ruled in favor of the adopted children and remanded the case to the trial court for settlement of the estate. ... (click for more)

Stormwater Fiasco And East Ridge Camping

When did the Chattanooga City Council get replaced by members of the East Ridge City Council? I don't recall a time in Chattanooga where they've voted to shoot the city in the foot more than they have lately.  If this goes through despite the environmental impact warnings and then Camp Jordan has increased flooding after spending millions on sports ball fields, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Chicken Gun

On the very day when more poultry is consumed in the United States than at any other time in the year, fun-loving Wendell Burns shared a wonderful story about “The Chicken Gun.” What makes the tale even better is that it was designed and built to perfection by the folks at the Arnold Air Force Base that you know is near Tullahoma, Tn. Wendell’s mistake in sending the story is ... (click for more)