Harold Wayne Nichols v. State of Tennessee

Harold Wayne Nichols v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00626-CCA-R3-PD

Petitioner, Harold Wayne Nichols, pled guilty to first degree murder in 1990. A jury imposed the death penalty. In June of 2016, Petitioner moved to reopen his postconviction petition on the basis that the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, __ U.S. __, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), announced a new rule of constitutional law requiring retroactive application. The post-conviction court granted the motion to reopen, but after Petitioner amended his petition and asserted additional claims, the postconviction court denied relief without a hearing. On appeal, Petitioner argues (1) that the sole aggravating circumstance supporting his death sentence is unconstitutionally vague under Johnson; (2) that a judge, rather than a jury, determined facts in imposing the death penalty in violation of Hurst v. Florida, __ U.S. __, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), a new rule of constitutional law requiring retroactive application; (3) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct at Petitioner’s sentencing hearing, along with a related ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim; (4) that the post-conviction court erred in canceling the scheduled evidentiary hearing without notice and a fair opportunity to be heard; (5) that the post-conviction court erred in denying the parties’ proposed settlement agreement to vacate the death sentence and enter a judgment of life imprisonment; and (6) that Petitioner’s death sentence is invalid due to the cumulative effect of the asserted errors. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Authoring Judge: 
Judge Timothy L. Easter
Originating Judge: 
Judge Don R. Ash
Date Filed: 
Thursday, October 10, 2019