Supreme Court Sends Case Back to Knox County Court to Hear Evidence on Stun Belt Use During Trial

February 21, 2013

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court today sent Brandon Mobley’s post‑conviction case back to the Knox County Criminal Court for further hearings regarding the use of a stun belt during his trial.

In 2003, Mr. Mobley shot and killed Joshua Nance and Oshalique Hoffman. He was convicted of two counts of premeditated murder in 2005, and his convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. He filed a petition for post‑conviction relief in 2008, asserting that he was entitled to a new trial because of errors committed by the trial judge and because his lawyer had not represented him effectively.

The Criminal Court for Knox County conducted a hearing and denied Mr. Mobley’s petition. A divided Court of Criminal Appeals granted Mr. Mobley a new trial after finding that his lawyer had been ineffective with regard to the presentation of expert testimony regarding the effect of Mr. Mobley’s mental conditions on his ability to premeditate.

The Supreme Court granted the State’s appeal. The Court held that Mr. Mobley was not entitled to a new trial because of his lawyer’s performance relating to the exclusion of his expert’s opinion regarding his ability to premeditate. The Court determined that any possible deficiency in the lawyer’s performance did not affect the fairness of Mr. Mobley’s trial.

The Court also upheld the dismissal of Mr. Mobley’s other claims for relief except the claim that his lawyer was ineffective because he did not object to the trial court’s decision to require Mr. Mobley to wear a concealed stun belt during the trial. Because the evidence in the record was insufficient to address this question, the Court remanded this issue to the trial court for additional hearings.

To read the Brandon Mobley v. State opinion, authored by Justice William C. Koch, Jr., click here.