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.


Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events Feb. 20-22

Feb. 20 Red Bank Chamber Council Meeting Noon to 1 p.m. Red Bank Community Center: Tom Weathers Dr. $10 Feb. 21 Southside Chamber Council Community Coffee 8 to 9 a.m. The Barn Nursery: 1801 E. 24th St . Feb. 21 Reality Check at Lookout Valley High School 8:30 to 10 a.m. Lookout Valley High School: 350 Lookout High St . Reality ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Gas Files First Rate Request In 8 Years

Chattanooga Gas on Thursday filed its first general rate request in eight years with the Tennessee Public Utility Commission. The company reports in its petition that a $7 million increase in base rates is necessary for system improvements to accommodate new growth, avoid interruptions in service, install critical safety infrastructure and recruit and cross-train the next generation ... (click for more)

Cachet Peterson, 21, Killed, Tiana Linares, 24, Injured, In Drive-by Shooting Early Sunday Morning On Chestnut Street

Cachet Peterson, 21, was killed and Tiana Linares, 24, was injured in a drive-by shooting on Chestnut Street early Sunday morning. The Chattanooga Police Department responded to a shooting call at 1:27 a.m. in the 1800 block of Chestnut Street .  Upon arrival, officers located the two female victims in a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds. HCEMS responded to the ... (click for more)

Woman Killed At Foot Of Lookout Mountain After Truck Loses Brakes

A woman was killed at the foot of Lookout Mountain on Saturday morning after her car was struck by a truck that had lost its brakes coming down the mountain. The victim was identified as Mallory Baldschun. A child in her Toyota Tacoma had minor injuries, police said. The driver of the International Prostar truck, James Wilson, also had minor injuries. Two other vehicles ... (click for more)

Six Things We Can Do About Mass Shootings - And Response

All politics aside, the recent shooting in Florida, and every other shooting in a public place, is a senseless and, possibly, preventable tragedy. It is absurd that we can’t gather in a free society without the fear of some nut job or terrorist using us as targets.   And then the cries of “do something!” from every quarter. But, other than the obvious attempt by agenda-pushers ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s Time To ‘Prepare’

On Friday morning, this after a crazed human being killed 17 innocent children and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, I sat in a room with Sheriff Jim Hammond and members of his command staff and asked what everyone us want to know: “What do we do?” Gino Bennett, the sage guiding force, sat beside me and he told the room, “The time to ‘prevent’ is over ... (click for more)