State Supreme Court Says Juror Misconduct Did Not Influence Guilty Verdict In Murder Case

Thursday, May 16, 2013
The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of a man serving a life sentence for the 2006 first degree premeditated murder of his girlfriend.

On April 16, 2006, Prince Adams was at his mother’s residence in Shelby County and then left with Ohrdra Flowers in her automobile. Two days later, Adams informed his cousin that he had fought with Ms. Flowers and had killed her with his pocketknife after she admitted to an affair with another man. Adams later confessed to the police.

After the jury returned a guilty verdict on the charge of first degree murder, the jury foreman notified the trial judge that he had discovered a note in his hotel room the previous night, indicating that the two alternate jurors thought Adams was guilty as charged. The alternate jurors had been released from service before deliberations began. Claiming misconduct on the part of the alternate jurors, Adams sought a new trial. The trial court denied the request after the foreman testified that the note did not affect his or any other juror’s view of the evidence. The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction.

The Supreme Court granted the appeal to clarify that the note qualified as an “improper outside communication,” which as a matter of law results in a presumption that the jury was prejudiced and the guilty verdict should be set aside. In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that even though the note was improper, the prosecution had successfully overcome the presumption of prejudice by introducing other evidence to demonstrate that the communication had no effect on the jury’s deliberations.

The Court further observed that under the rules the foreman should not have been allowed to testify about the effect the note had on his view of the evidence, but in this instance there was no reasonable possibility that the verdict was influenced by the note. In reaching this conclusion, the Court considered the nature and content of the communication, the number of jurors who were aware of the note, the manner and timing in which the foreman received the note, and the weight of the remaining evidence at trial.

The Court also rejected Adams’ claims of other errors in the trial. He is serving a life sentence for the murder.

To read the State of Tennessee v. Prince Adams Opinion, authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov .


Bills Passes To Require Online Registry Of People Who Abuse Dogs Or Cats

A bill requiring an online registry of people who abuse dogs or cats passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on Monday.  HB0147, sponsored by Nashville Rep. Darren Jernigan, would create a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation registry of people who are convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals, animal fighting or a criminal offense against animals.  Under ... (click for more)

Louisville, Tn., Woman Gets Lengthy Federal Prison Term For Her Part In Ponzi Scheme

A Louisville, Tn., woman has been sentenced to serve 360 months in federal prison for her part in a scheme at Knoxville's Benchmark Capital.   Joyce Allen, 67, appeared before Judge Thomas A. Varlan. She was immediately taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service following the sentencing hearing.   She was ordered to pay $20,711,371.72 in restitution.  ... (click for more)

Shock Should Be At Low Teacher Salaries - And Response (4)

In a recent article, Commissioner Tim Boyd is quoted as being shocked at the "high" salaries of central office personnel. While I agree that their salaries are significantly more than what a classroom teacher could ever hope to make, I believe that his shock and disgust are misplaced.  Those salaries, when compared to private-sector jobs, are hardly out of line. Superintendent ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Licker’ Gets 55 Counts

In what was described as “a scene from some sick horror movie,” Giles County sheriff’s deputies and animal welfare officers raided the farm of known “Big Licker” Jeffery Alan Mitchell near Pulaski, Tn., last week and confiscated 55 Tennessee Walking Horses, all horribly malnourished and some that were so emaciated they could no longer walk. By Sunday, the horses were receiving medical ... (click for more)

Zach Mercer No-Hits Notre Dame In 1-0 Duel With Alex Darras

Zach Mercer has won some big baseball games during his career as a pitcher for the Chattanooga Christian Chargers, but none have been any bigger than the 1-0 victory over visiting Notre Dame Monday afternoon. And he was almost perfect as only a fourth-inning walk to opposing pitcher Alex Darras and another walk to Quinton Buckman in the seventh kept it from being a perfect game. ... (click for more)

Lookouts Bullpen Fails As M-Braves Rally With 6-5 Wallk-Off Win

PEARL, MS -- Lookouts' Southern League Pitcher of the Month Tyler Duffey understands how it feels to pitch shutout baseball but end up with a no-record game. Duffey has had it happen twice. Monday, in his first start of the season, Alex Wimmers worked five shutout innings allowing just one hit while fanning three. But the Mississippi Braves scored four runs in the eighth and two ... (click for more)