Supreme Court Rules Constitutional Protection Will Not Apply Retroactively To Guilty Plea

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court has declined to set aside a 13-year-old guilty plea in which the defendant was never told the full extent of his punishment. In doing so, the Court determined that a statute passed in 1995 severely limited the ability of prisoners and parolees to obtain the benefit of newly recognized constitutional rights.

Derrick Brandon Bush pleaded guilty to sexual attempt crimes in Sumner County in 2000. His plea bargain called for a sentence of one year of confinement followed by seven years of probation.

A Tennessee law also required that Mr. Bush be placed on lifetime community supervision, a type of parole. However, neither the trial judge nor Mr. Bush’s attorney informed him of this additional sentence. The sentence was added to judgment forms that Mr. Bush did not see until he finished his time in jail.

In 2010, the Supreme Court held in Ward v. State that a failure to inform a criminal defendant that his guilty plea would result in automatic lifetime supervision was a constitutional violation that could invalidate a guilty plea. Relying on this new ruling, Mr. Bush filed a petition for post-conviction relief in 2011 and asked the trial court to set aside his conviction. Under Tennessee’s post-conviction law, however, Mr. Bush could only receive the benefit of the Ward decision if the Ward decision applied retroactively to old convictions.

In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court held that its Ward decision did not apply retroactively. The Court pointed out that retroactivity decisions in post-conviction cases should be decided using a 1995 law that limited the types of cases that should be applied retroactively.  Because the Ward decision did not meet this law's standards, it should not be applied retroactively.

To read the Opinion in Derrick Brandon Bush v. State of Tennessee, authored by Justice William C. Koch Jr., visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov


Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways To Spot Suspicious Calls

The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.   These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They ... (click for more)

Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association Names Alex Perkerson Government Affairs Specialist

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, a trade group representing the interests of electric cooperative members across the state, announced that Alex Perkerson joins the association as government affairs specialist. In this role, Ms. Perkerson will assist with the association’s legislative and grassroots efforts. “Tennessee’s electric cooperatives work to inform ... (click for more)

16-Year-Old Shot Near Emma Wheeler Homes

A 16-year-old was shot near Emma Wheeler Homes on Sunday night. At approximately 7:40 p.m., Chattanooga Police received a call of a person shot from a local hospital. Officers spoke to the victim, a 16-year-old black male, who was transported to a local hospital in a personal vehicle. The victim’s injury is minor and non-life threatening. Investigators spoke to the victim ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)