Supreme Court Orders Trial Court To Reconsider Subpoenas In Post-Conviction Case

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a post-conviction petitioner may be entitled to subpoena his co-defendants as witnesses, but only if he can first demonstrate that the co-defendants are competent witnesses whose testimony is relevant to his claims.

In 2009, Quantel Taylor pled guilty to charges of attempted first degree murder, second degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery. These charges were based on the events of Jan. 22, 2003, when Taylor and his three co-defendants attempted to rob John and Louis Neely at their residence in Crockett County.

During the attempted robbery, two of the co-defendants broke into the residence and opened fire, killing John Neely and leaving Louis Neely severely injured. Upon the acceptance of his guilty pleas, Taylor received a 20-year sentence.

The next year, Taylor filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas because his trial attorney had provided inadequate representation. Taylor asked the trial court to issue subpoenas for his co-defendants to testify at his post-conviction hearing. Each of the co-defendants was incarcerated. The trial court refused to issue the subpoenas, ruling that it would impose a “great burden” on the State to require the witnesses’ appearance. The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the trial court had erred, but found that the error was harmless because Taylor’s petition would fail regardless of his co-defendants’ testimony.

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that courts should allow subpoenas in post-conviction proceedings if the petitioner can demonstrate that the subpoenaed witnesses are competent and will provide relevant testimony. In this instance, the trial court applied the wrong legal standard and did not properly consider the relevance of the co-defendants’ testimony. As a result, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court to reconsider the subpoenas under the correct standard.

To read the Quantel Taylor v. State of Tennessee opinion, authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.




The Dixie Group Retains Bob Kokoszka To Assist In Integration Of Burtco Enterprises

The Dixie Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:DXYN) announced that it has retained the services of former president and chief operating officer of Burtco Enterprises Robert E. Kokoszka to assist Dixie in the integration process of the recently acquired assets of Burtco Enterprises, Inc., a maker of custom-crafted flooring designed for the hospitality industry. Mr. Kokoszka earned a bachelor ... (click for more)

Convictions And Death Sentences For Man Convicted Of Multiple Murders Confirmed

The Tennessee Supreme Court has unanimously affirmed a jury’s verdict convicting Jessie Dotson of six counts of first degree murder and imposing a death sentence for each of the six convictions. The Court also affirmed Dotson’s convictions of three counts of attempted first degree murder and three consecutive 40-year sentences. The murders and assaults occurred in Memphis in ... (click for more)

Linear Park Planned As Extension Of Walnut Street Bridge In Front Of Planned Boutique Hotel

A linear park that will be an extension of the Walnut Street Bridge public space is planned in front of a new boutique hotel at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way (Second Street). Mitch Patel of Vision Hospitality on Tuesday night told nearby residents that "the city pushed this idea of a linear park, and we agree that it is a great idea." He said the current situation in which ... (click for more)

Sharply-Divided City Council Approves Office Reorganization; Councilman Freeman Calls Move "Evil, Hellish"

A sharply-divided City Council on Tuesday voted 5-4 to completely reorganize the council office, leaving current staffers without a job down the road but with the option to reapply. Councilman Moses Freeman called the move "evil" and "hellish." He said, "We are punishing somebody on a personal level," though he said the office has been running smoothly. Saying the majority ... (click for more)

How To Reform The City Industrial Development Board - And Response (3)

My aims is to bring to the public’s attention the need for procedural changes that, if implemented, would significantly improve the information available the public, to the City Council and to the City Industrial Development Board about the verifiable benefits and costs of tax incentive financing structures and to make the entire process transparent. The public, the City ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My October Garden

Hark! It is the first day of October and, as I make my monthly stroll through the garden, I find a growing numbers of leaves and acorns. Autumn leaves are beautiful while acorns are nuts, thus you will get the idea as we make our monthly awards: A PRETTY LEAF to Phil Hughes after the Minnesota Twins pitcher came within one inning of earning a $500,000 bonus this season. The deal ... (click for more)