Tennessee Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments For April In Jackson

April 2, 2019

Nashville, Tenn. ­– The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear two cases on April 4, 2019.  The details of the cases are as follows:  

Thursday, April 4, 2019

  • State of Tennessee v. A.B. Prince, Jr., and Victor Tyrone Sims – On January 1, 2017, the Public Safety Act of 2016 became effective.  Included within this legislation are provisions requiring that a trial court’s grant of probation be conditioned upon a new system of graduated sanctions, with violations subject to an administrative, rather than judicial, review process.  In this consolidated appeal, the defendants each sought to enter guilty pleas in January of 2017.  The trial court, however, denied their plea requests, calling into question the legality of the Public Safety Act.  At a later hearing, the trial court determined that the graduated sanction provisions of the Public Safety Act violate the separation of powers under the state constitution and violate probationers’ due process equal protection rights under the federal and state constitutions.  The defendants subsequently entered guilty pleas in their respective cases, but the trial court provided in the judgment orders that the sentences were not subject to the Public Safety Act and instead were subject to applicable rules and regulations through laws in effect prior to January 1, 2017.  The State asks the Supreme Court to decide whether the constitutionality determination of the Public Safety Act was ready for determination in these cases.   The State also argues that the graduated sanctions provisions of the Public Safety Act do not violate the separation of powers under the Tennessee Constitution or the due process provisions of the Tennessee or United States Constitution. 
  • State of Tennessee v. Angela Carrie Payton Hamm and David Lee HammThe defendants in this case were arrested and indicted for possession of various illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia following a warrantless search of the defendants’ residence.  The trial court determined that, although Ms. Hamm was on probation, no reasonable suspicion existed to justify the warrantless search.  Thus, the trial court granted the defendants’ motions to suppress evidence and dismissed each defendant’s case.  The majority of the panel for the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the trial court and affirmed the judgments.  The State argues before the Supreme Court that the Court should adopt the same standard for probationer searches as it applies to parolee searches so that reasonable suspicion is not required for law enforcement to conduct a probationer search.  In the alternative, the State argues that law enforcement had reasonable suspicion to conduct the search. The State also argues that Mr. Hamm’s expectation of privacy was the same as Ms. Hamm’s under the doctrine of common authority.

Media members planning to attend oral arguments should review Supreme Court Rule 30 and file any required request.