Nikolaus Johnson v. State of Tennessee

Nikolaus Johnson v. State of Tennessee

In this interlocutory appeal, the petitioner, Nikolaus Johnson, appeals the ruling of the post-conviction court ordering that he provide discovery materials to the State. The rules governing post-conviction proceedings impose upon the State an automatic and mandatory obligation to provide discovery materials to the petitioner as part of the postconviction proceeding even in the absence of a request for such materials. Although Rule 28 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court does not include a similar provision requiring automatic and mandatory reciprocal discovery from the petitioner to the State, the Post-Conviction Procedure Act provides that Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 governs discovery in a post-conviction proceeding. Nothing in Rule 28 specifically exempts a post-conviction petitioner from complying with the discovery requirements of Rule 16. Accordingly, we reverse that part of the post-conviction court’s ruling that held that the filing of a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, without more, triggers in the post-conviction petitioner a duty to provide reciprocal discovery to the State. Instead, we hold that a post-conviction petitioner’s duty to provide reciprocal discovery to the State arises when the State has fully complied with its own mandatory discovery obligation and has requested reciprocal discovery under the terms of Rule 16. Because the State has not yet satisfied its duty to disclose in this post-conviction proceeding, the post-conviction court erred by ordering the petitioner to provide reciprocal discovery to the State. Regarding the post-conviction court’s order that the petitioner disclose prior to the evidentiary hearing the underlying facts and data for those expert witnesses the petitioner intended to present at the evidentiary hearing, we conclude that Tennessee Rule of Evidence 705 authorizes the court’s order and, therefore, affirm.

Authoring Judge: 
Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Originating Judge: 
Judge R. Jerry Beck
Date Filed: 
Monday, May 14, 2018