Assigned on Briefs January 4, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 15-1263-IV
Russell T. Perkins, Chancellor.
Tate was convicted of a first degree murder that took place
on March 22, 1993. On November 22, 1995, he was sentenced to
life in prison. In the current litigation, he filed a
petition for declaratory judgment asking the trial court to
review his release eligibility date as calculated by the
Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). Petitioner claimed
that TDOC incorrectly calculated his release eligibility
date, and, in doing so, violated his rights under the ex
post facto provisions of the state and federal
constitutions. The trial court found that TDOC correctly
calculated his release eligibility date. As a consequence,
the court dismissed the petition. We modify the judgment of
the trial court by vacating the court's statement that
"as Mr. Tate is serving a sentence of life for first
degree murder, in no event can he become eligible for release
prior to serving 25 years." In all other respects, we
affirm the trial court's judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed as Modified; Case Remanded
Tate, Mountain City, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter,
Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General, and Jennifer
L. Brenner, Senior Counsel, Office of the Attorney General
Civil Rights and Claims Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for
the appellee, Tennessee Department of Correction.
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which W. Neal McBrayer and Arnold B. Goldin, JJ.,
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE.
statutory provision pursuant to which Petitioner was
sentenced is Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-501(g) (1990). It
was amended twice during the period of time between the
commission of the murder and date of sentencing. On March 22,
1993, the date on which the offense was committed, the
statute provided as follows:
Release eligibility for each defendant receiving a life
sentence for first degree murder shall occur after service of
sixty percent (60%) of sixty (60) years less sentence credit
earned and retained by the defendant.
amendment to the statute that became effective on July 1,
1993, some three months after the date of the
murder, the General Assembly amended this statute to provide,
in pertinent part, as follows:
Release eligibility for each defendant receiving a sentence
of imprisonment for life for first degree murder shall occur
after service of sixty percent (60%) of sixty (60) years less
sentence credits earned and retained by the defendant, but in
no event shall a defendant sentenced to imprisonment for life
be eligible for parole until the defendant has served a
minimum of twenty-five (25) full calendar years of the
sentence . . . A defendant receiving a sentence of
imprisonment for life for first degree murder shall be
entitled to earn and retain sentence ...