State of Tennessee v. Brandon Cole-Pugh

State of Tennessee v. Brandon Cole-Pugh

The defendant, Brandon Cole-Pugh, was convicted of being a felon in possession of a handgun, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1307(b)(1).  The evidence presented at trial suggested that the defendant obtained a handgun during a physical altercation, during which the handgun became loose, fell from another individual’s possession, and dropped to the floor.  Prior to the trial court’s instructions to the jury, defense counsel orally requested an instruction on the defense of necessity.  The trial court denied the request.  Based upon the evidence presented at trial, the briefs of the parties, the arguments of counsel, and the applicable law, we hold that the defense of necessity was fairly raised by the evidence and that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury accordingly.  We further hold that Tennessee law does not preclude plenary review of a claim of error based on a trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on a general defense when the request was not made in writing.  We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: 
Judge Donald H. Allen
Date Filed: 
Friday, October 25, 2019