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.




Attorney General Slatery Names Solicitor General

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced that Andrée Sophia Blumstein will join the office as solicitor general.   Mrs. Blumstein will oversee appellate litigation in state and federal courts, review written opinions, and advise the attorney general. “I could not be more pleased that Andrée has accepted this important appointment,” Attorney General Slatery ... (click for more)

Northwest Georgia’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 7.1 Percent In September

The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the unemployment rate in the Northwest Georgia region in September was 7.1 percent, down 1.0 percent from 8.1 percent in August. The rate in September of last year was 7.8 percent. The rate dropped because there were 4,034 fewer unemployed people in the Northwest Georgia area in September, according to the federal government’s ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Chattanooga Police Department, And Community Members Reach Out To Group Members To End Violence

The city of Chattanooga held a call-in on Thursday night, as part of the Violence Reduction Initiative. Dozens of law enforcement officials, community members, social service providers and clergy gathered to deliver a message to over 20 members of violent groups in Chattanooga. Family members of the probationers watched the call-in from another building. Although the call-in was ... (click for more)

Man Airlifted To Erlanger After Early Morning Crash In Bradley County

Bradley County EMS responded to an early morning crash Thursday at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road in Charleston. Three ambulances and an EMS supervisor responded to the scene. There were three vehicles involved and one car left the roadway.   One adult man suffered serious injuries and it was determined that he needed ... (click for more)

Chairs Cost How Much?

Many times while growing up, I would go to the store with my parents. More often than not, I would see something I wanted, and ask my parents to buy it for me. More often than not, they said no. “Why?” I asked. “Son, money doesn’t grow on trees.” That’s a phrase I’m sure many of us have heard more than once over the course of our lives. However, I have since learned that they were ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Dear Friend Luther

One sunny morning in June years ago, the renowned radio icon Luther Masingill was on his way back to the WDEF studios on South Broad Street when he stopped for a red light and noticed a young couple in a car idling next to his familiar light blue Ford pickup. “What caught my eye was a buck-toothed boy eating a banana in the back seat,” he explained in an aside to that day’s lunchtime ... (click for more)