Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session July 18, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Dickson County No.
22CC-2016-CR-59I3 Robert E. Burch, Judge Sitting by
Defendants, Charlotte Lynn Frazier and Andrea Parks, along
with ninety-five other co-defendants, were charged through a
presentment with conspiracy to manufacture, sell, or deliver
300 grams or more of methamphetamine with at least one
defendant having committed an overt act within 1, 000 feet of
a school, park, library, recreation center, or child care
facility. The Defendants each filed a motion to suppress
evidence seized during the execution of search warrants at
their homes. The Defendants alleged that the magistrate, a
circuit court judge, lacked the authority to issue the search
warrants because the Defendants' homes were located
outside the magistrate's judicial district. The trial
court granted the Defendants' motions. The State sought
and was granted permission to appeal in both cases pursuant
to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9, and this court
consolidated the appeals. We hold that the magistrate did not
have the authority to issue search warrants for property
located outside his judicial district and that, as a result,
the searches of the Defendants' homes were
unconstitutional. Accordingly, we affirm the trial
court's orders granting the Defendants' motions to
suppress and remand the cause to the trial court for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
R. App. P. 9 Interlocutory Appeal; Judgments of the Circuit
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M.
Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; W. Ray Crouch, Jr.,
District Attorney General; and David Wyatt, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of
Leonard G. Belmares, II, Charlotte, Tennessee, for the
appellee, Charlotte Lynn Frazier.
L. Hassell, Charlotte, Tennessee, for the appellee, Andrea
Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ.,
EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
September 2014, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency
(DEA), the Kentucky State Police, the Twenty-Third Judicial
District Drug Task Force, the Nineteenth Judicial District
Drug Task Force, and the Clarksville Police Department began
a joint investigation into the trafficking of methamphetamine
in Dickson and Montgomery Counties. During the course of the
investigation, a circuit court judge with the Twenty-Third
Judicial District issued warrants authorizing the
interception of electronic communications.
on information obtained during the investigation, Agent Kyle
Chessor of the Twenty-Third Judicial District Drug Task Force
applied for search warrants for the Defendants' homes in
October 2015. Ms. Parks's home was located in Robertson
County, and Ms. Frazier's home was located in Montgomery
County. Robertson and Montgomery Counties are located in the
Nineteenth Judicial District. See T.C.A. §
16-5-506(19)(A)(i). The magistrate, the circuit court judge
from the Twenty-Third Judicial District who had issued the
warrants authorizing the interception of electronic
communication, also issued the search warrants authorizing
the searches of the Defendants' homes.
search of Ms. Parks's home yielded 17.9 ounces of
methamphetamine, twenty grams of marijuana, and drug
paraphernalia. During the search of Ms. Frazier's home,
officers recovered approximately one kilogram of crystal
methamphetamine, approximately one hundred ecstasy pills, two
sheets of LSD, two ounces of marijuana, drug paraphernalia,
assorted rounds of ammunition, and $112, 031 in cash. The
officers also searched a vehicle parked at the residence that
belonged to co-defendant Matthew Smith and recovered eight
ounces of crystal methamphetamine, $38, 838 in cash, a loaded
Glock handgun, and a Remington twelve gauge shotgun.
the Defendants filed a motion to suppress evidence seized
during the search of their respective homes. The Defendants
contended that the search warrants were invalid because the
magistrate was not authorized to issue search warrants for
property located outside of his judicial district and that,
therefore, the searches violated the Fourth Amendment of the
United States Constitution and Article I, section 7 of the
the hearings on the Defendants' separate motions, the
parties did not submit any proof but argued their respective
positions. The Defendants argued that the magistrate was not
authorized to issue the search warrants since the property to
be searched was located outside of his judicial district,
while the State argued that the magistrate had such
authority. The State noted that the wiretaps that led to the
search warrants originated in the Twenty-Third Judicial
District in Dickson County and maintained that the circuit
court judge "being aware of the facts of the particular
case, all the work that had been going on, in particular with
the wiretap warrants and the required ten-day reports, that
because this case was being investigated here, the
State's position is that [the circuit court judge] did,
in fact, have authority to issue a search warrant for the
trial court granted the Defendants' motions to suppress.
The trial court found that the search warrants were void
because the magistrate was not authorized to issue search
warrants for property located outside of his jurisdiction.
the State filed motions in the trial court requesting
permission to seek an interlocutory appeal in this court
pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9. The
trial court granted the State's motion. This court
subsequently granted the State's application for
permission to appeal and consolidated the appeals.
State contends that the trial court erred in granting the
Defendants' motions to suppress. The State argues that
Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-1-106 designates circuit
court judges as "magistrates" with authority to
issue search warrants for property located anywhere in the
State of Tennessee. The State also argues that any error in
the circuit court judge's issuance of the search warrants
is non-constitutional error and that, as a result,
suppression is not required. Finally, the State argues that
the evidence seized during the searches of the
Defendants' homes is admissible under the good faith
exception to the exclusionary rule or under the Exclusionary
Rule Reform Act in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-6-108.
The Defendants respond that the circuit court judge did not
have the authority to issue a search warrant for property
located outside the territorial boundaries of his judicial
district. According to the Defendants, the search warrants
were void ab initio, and the searches of their homes
violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and Article I, section 7 of the Tennessee
court's factual findings made during a motion to suppress
are presumptively correct on appeal unless the evidence
preponderates against them. State v. Saylor, 117
S.W.3d 239, 244 (Tenn. 2003). Determinations of witness
credibility and the resolution of conflicts in the evidence
are left to the trial court. State v. Riels, 216
S.W.3d 737, 753 (Tenn. 2007). The prevailing party is
entitled to the strongest legitimate view of the evidence and
to all reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence.
State v. Day, 263 S.W.3d 891, 900 (Tenn. 2008). A
trial court's conclusions of law are reviewed de novo.
State v. Sawyer, 156 S.W.3d 531, 533 (Tenn. 2005).
Likewise, a trial court's application of law to the facts
is reviewed de novo. State v. Walton, 41 S.W.3d 75,
81 (Tenn. 2001).
Validity of ...