Tennessee Supreme Court Holds Defendant Who Enters No Contest Plea Not Entitled To Notice

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s revocation of judicial diversion for Westley A. Albright, who entered a no contest guilty plea to one count of solicitation of a minor, for which he was placed on judicial diversion and received a one-year probationary term.  As a condition of his probation, Albright was required to register as a sex offender and undergo sex offender treatment.  

The trial court revoked Albright’s judicial diversion after he was discharged from his sex offender treatment program for noncompliance.  Specifically, Albright had failed to take responsibility for the conduct underlying his conviction during his treatment program.  The trial court, however, allowed Albright to remain on probation, but required that he serve an additional six months on probation and complete sex offender therapy.  Albright appealed the decision of the trial court, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. 

The Tennessee Supreme Court granted permission to appeal in this case to determine whether due process requires that a sex offender be informed in conjunction with the offender’s plea that judicial diversion and probation could be revoked if the offender is discharged from sex offender treatment due to refusal to admit guilt during the treatment.  The defendant argued that the “hidden” requirement that he admit his intent to solicit a minor as part of his sex offender treatment was inconsistent with his no contest guilty plea. 

In its decision, the Court refused to distinguish among the different methods by which a defendant ultimately is convicted of a crime in terms of what notice the trial court must provide regarding probation.  According to the Court, the particular fact that Albright entered a no contest guilty plea was of no consequence to the due process inquiry. Regarding the due process issue, the Court held that the trial court was not required to provide the defendant with actual notice that his sex offender treatment would require certain admissions.  In so doing, the Court overturned a case from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals holding otherwise.  Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court and the Court of Criminal Appeals in Albright’s case. 

Justice Sharon G. Lee dissented, concluding that the revocation of Albright’s diversion violated his due process rights. In her view, requiring Albright to admit responsibility for his underlying conduct during treatment is fundamentally inconsistent with a no contest plea that the trial court accepted without requiring an admission of guilt. Further, Albright had no notice that admitting criminal intent in sex offender treatment was a condition of his diversion, and he had otherwise complied with all stated conditions of his probation. 

To read the Supreme Court’s opinion in State of Tennessee v. Westley A. Albright, authored by Chief Justice Jeff Bivins, and the dissenting opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, go to the opinions section of TNCourts.gov.


Text Request’s Brian Elrod Shares Insights At Twilio Engage Roadshow

WorkHound Secures $1.5 Million Seed Round Funding

CARTA Releases Concepts For Chattanooga's Transit Future


Brian Elrod, CEO of Text Request, spoke at the Twilio Engage Roadshow in Nashville about the rapid growth his company has enjoyed over the past few years and how quality partnerships have propelled ... (click for more)

WorkHound announced Tuesday that the company has successfully completed a fundraising seed round of $1.5 million. The capital will, in large part, be used to add to the company’s technology team ... (click for more)

CARTA will host a public meeting to discuss four possible transit concepts as part of the second phase of CARTA’s Redesign: Planning for the Future planning study. The meeting will be held ... (click for more)


Business

Text Request’s Brian Elrod Shares Insights At Twilio Engage Roadshow

Brian Elrod, CEO of Text Request, spoke at the Twilio Engage Roadshow in Nashville about the rapid growth his company has enjoyed over the past few years and how quality partnerships have propelled Text Request forward. Mr. Elrod founded Text Request, a business texting service, in 2014, along with his wife Jamey and the company’s CTO Rob Reagan. Since that launch, Text Request ... (click for more)

WorkHound Secures $1.5 Million Seed Round Funding

WorkHound announced Tuesday that the company has successfully completed a fundraising seed round of $1.5 million. The capital will, in large part, be used to add to the company’s technology team headcount and support its growth deeper into the logistics space and additional industries. “To date, we’ve been fortunate to fuel WorkHound growth primarily with our revenues,” said ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Police Charge Jason Ansley In Wreck On Main Street In Which 9-Year-Old Boy Was Killed; Going 62 MPH In 35 MPH Zone

Chattanooga Police have arrested 38-year-old Jason Ansley in a June 7 wreck on Main Street in which 9-year-old Liam Haddock was killed and two other family members injured. Police said it was determined that Ansley was traveling 62 mph in a 35 mph zone and he was caught on video running a red light at S. Orchard Knob just prior to the 9:08 p.m. crash. Police said Ansley, who ... (click for more)

Smedley, Bankston Say They Are No Votes On Property Tax Increase

Two County Commission members on Monday told members of the Pachyderm Club that they are no votes on a property tax increase. Sabrena Smedley, who currently chairs the commission, said there are a number of unanswered questions about the school system, including how the latest test scores will turn out and how much in repairs the schools will face under a new study. She said ... (click for more)

Opinion

Why I Support Funding The Proposed Budget

Dear Commissioners of Hamilton County, I attended the District 3 community meeting with Commissioner Greg Martin and School Board Chairman Joe Wingate, who was filling in for District 3 Rep. Joe Smith. Commissioner Martin stated he had not made up his mind on how to vote for the tax increase at that time. He requested thoughtful input on why the citizens of his district wanted ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: VW Needs Big Repairs

The banner headline on Monday morning read, “Gov. Lee, top Republicans celebrate failed UAW bid to unionize Volkswagen,” and that’s the second-worst thing that the headline could have said. The worst, of course, is if the UAW had won, and the Detroit-based union that lost 35,000 members last year would be revived -- breaking a hole into the tight wall of foreign-owned auto assembly ... (click for more)