Supreme Court Opinions

Format: 07/31/2014
Format: 07/31/2014
State of Tennessee v. David Lynn Jordan
W2007-01272-SC-DDT-DD
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The defendant was convicted by a jury of the first degree murders of Renee Jordan, Jerry Hopper, and David Gordon, and the attempted first degree murders of James Goff and Larry Taylor, as well as leaving the scene of an accident. The jury sentenced the defendant to death for each of the first degree murders. The trial court sentenced the defendant to twenty-five years for each of the attempted murders, to be served consecutively, and to thirty days for the misdemeanor. On appeal, we hold (1) the trial court erred in ruling pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615 that persons attending the guilt/innocence phase of the trial could not testify at the sentencing hearing; (2) the trial court's ruling regarding witness sequestration did not violate the defendant's right to a public trial; (3) the trial court erred in allowing an expert to incorporate hearsay testimony within his opinion without a limiting instruction; (4) the trial court did not err in permitting a victim's fianc_e to offer victim impact testimony; (5) the prosecution engaged in improper argument during the sentencing hearing; (6) the trial court did not err in its instructions to the jury on the felony murder aggravating circumstance; (7) the various aggravating factors charged were not duplicative; (8) each of the death sentences satisfies our statutory mandatory review; and (9) the cumulative errors in this case do not entitle the defendant to relief. As to the remaining issues raised by the defendant, we agree with the Court of Criminal Appeals's conclusions and attach as an appendix to this opinion the relevant portions of that court's decision. The defendant's convictions and sentences are affirmed.

Madison County Supreme Court 09/22/10
State of Tennessee v. Shawn Hatcher
W2006-01853-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs, Jr.

We granted permission to appeal in this case in order to consider whether Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 permits a defendant to amend his motion for new trial after the hearing on the initial motion has been conducted and an order denying the motion has been entered. In this case, newly-appointed defense counsel filed several pleadings seeking to add grounds in support of a new trial after the hearing on the original motion for new trial had been held and an order denying a new trial had been entered. The trial court considered the new grounds and subsequently entered a second order denying a new trial. The defendant appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals refused to consider any issues raised after the trial court denied the original motion for new trial. As to the issues that were raised in that motion, the Court of Criminal Appeals determined that the defendant is not entitled to relief. We have concluded that trial courts should not permit the defense to amend its motion for new trial after the new trial hearing has been held and an order denying a new trial has been entered. Further, we have reviewed an issue the defendant properly preserved and have reviewed for plain error the issues the defendant failed to preserve but argues to this Court. We hold that the defendant is not entitled to relief on any of these issues and therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Supreme Court 05/04/10
State of Tennessee v. Shawn Hatcher
W2006-01853-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Cornelia A. Clark, J.
Trial Court Judge: W. Otis Higgs, Judge
We granted permission to appeal in this case in order to consider whether Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 permits a defendant to amend his motion for new trial after the hearing on the initial motion has been conducted and an order denying the motion has been entered. In this case, newly-appointed defense counsel filed several pleadings seeking to add grounds in support of a new trial after the hearing on the original motion for new trial had been held and an order denying a new trial had been entered. The trial court considered the new grounds and subsequently entered a second order denying a new trial. The defendant appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals refused to consider any issues raised after the trial court denied the original motion for new trial. As to the issues that were raised in that motion, the Court of Criminal Appeals determined that the defendant is not entitled to relief. We have concluded that trial courts should not permit the defense to amend its motion for new trial after the new trial hearing has been held and an order denying a new trial has been entered. Further, we have reviewed an issue the defendant properly preserved and have reviewed for plain error the issues the defendant failed to preserve but argues to this Court. We hold that the defendant is not entitled to relief on any of these issues and therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Shelby County Supreme Court 05/04/10