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State v. Maupin

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 28, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DANIEL T. MAUPIN

          Assigned on Briefs May 10, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Dickson County No. 22CC-2014-CR-640 David D. Wolfe, Judge

         The Defendant, Daniel T. Maupin, was convicted by a Dickson County Circuit Court jury of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony, and driving under the influence ("DUI"), a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to consecutive terms of two years for the criminally negligent homicide conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended after service of six months, for the DUI. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred: (1) by not declaring a mistrial after a prospective juror made a statement about drug impairment; (2) by not having the jurors put their questions in writing during the deliberations and not reducing supplemental jury instructions to writing; and (3) by denying judicial diversion. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we notice that the judgment in Count 2 and the transcript from the sentencing hearing indicate that restitution was reserved. Therefore, we remand for a restitution hearing or entry of a corrected judgment in Count 2 indicating the agreed-upon restitution.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed and Remanded

          William B. (Jake) Lockert, III, District Public Defender (on appeal and at trial); and Dawn Kavanagh, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Daniel T. Maupin.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; W. Ray Crouch, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jack T. Arnold, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE

         FACTS

         The Defendant was indicted for vehicular homicide by intoxication and vehicular homicide by reckless driving, and after a week-long, emotionally-charged trial, the jury convicted him of the lesser-included offenses of DUI and criminally negligent homicide.

         The proof at trial showed that at 10:56 a.m. on June 12, 2014, a two-vehicle crash on Highway 46 in Dickson County caused the death of sixteen-year-old Marvin Andrew Morton. The Defendant was driving northbound in a fully-loaded tractor trailer. The victim was driving southbound in a GMC pickup truck towing a double-axle trailer with a lawnmower on it. The Defendant turned left from the center turn lane onto a road leading to a Pilot Truck Stop. The victim was unable to stop and collided with the Defendant's trailer, killing him instantly. One witness estimated that the victim's vehicle was traveling around twenty to twenty-five miles per hour at the time of impact.

         The victim's trailer did not have functioning brakes and had a gross vehicle weight of almost as much as the pickup truck, such that the trailer was essentially pushing the truck down the road. Police investigators determined from a 219-foot skid mark that the victim's vehicle decreased in speed from fifty-one to thirty-two miles per hour prior to impact. From crash-reconstruction evidence and witnesses' statements, investigators concluded that the victim was travelling close to the forty-five-mile-per-hour speed limit and was 339 feet away from the Defendant's trailer when he started braking. Two witnesses, who were driving forty-five miles per hour and about five car lengths behind the victim, believed the victim was going about the same speed. Witnesses reported that the crash was "inevitable" when the tractor trailer pulled across the highway. One police officer and a lay witness at the scene thought that the Defendant exhibited signs of impairment; the other officers and emergency medical personnel only thought that the Defendant appeared to be upset or in shock.

         The Defendant told investigators that he thought he had enough room to make the turn. However, when he got into the turn, he realized that the pickup truck appeared to be speeding up and was traveling faster than the speed limit. Blood test results from the Defendant showed Adderall in the therapeutic range and Oxycodone in a higher-than-therapeutic range. Experts opined that the drugs could have effects on perception, critical judgment, and reaction time. Records showed that the Defendant filled a prescription for twelve pills of Oxycodone on May 18, 2014, that should have been taken over a two-day time period, but the Defendant told an officer that he thought he had "a couple left" on the day of the accident. The Defendant did not have a recent prescription for Adderall. Federal regulations pertaining to commercial motor vehicles prohibit a driver from reporting to duty while using a prescribed controlled substance unless a licensed medical practitioner has determined that the drug would not adversely affect the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

         Following the trial, the trial court conducted a sentencing hearing, after which it imposed a sentence of two years for the criminally negligent homicide conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended after service of six months, for the DUI.

         ANALYSIS

         The Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred: (1) by not declaring a mistrial after a prospective juror made a statement about drug impairment; (2) by not having the jurors put their questions in writing during the deliberations and not reducing supplemental jury instructions to writing; and (3) by denying judicial diversion.

         I. Mistrial - Prospective Juror Comment

         During voir dire, the potential jurors were informed that the proof in the case would be that the Defendant was driving while impaired by the use of drugs, and both parties questioned the potential jurors about their opinions concerning the effect of drugs on a motorist's driving. Defense counsel told the panel that the proof would show that the Defendant was taking prescription pain medication and Adderall. Thereafter, the following exchange occurred:

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: [A]re any of you sitting here thinking, well, look, if he had a pain medication and he had taken an Adderall the day before I'm going to find him guilty? Anybody feel that way?
. . . . THE COURT: And, [Prospective Juror], did you raise your hand?
PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Yes, sir. I don't think I would be swayed, but in my profession I deal with drugs that cause impairment, and I know that it does that.
THE COURT: Let me stop you for a second. Without giving your opinion about whether something does or does not do anything, the question becomes . . . [i]s there anything about your professional experience as a pharmacist -- I believe you're a pharmacist; is that correct?
PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Yes.
THE COURT: -- that would, in your opinion, start you out one way or the other or would you listen to the facts and decide this case on that? You're competent, as the law says, to serve even with your prior experience as long as it will not affect your ability to fairly hear the evidence and follow the law. Do you feel like you can follow the law and hear the evidence and decide the case based on that?
PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Yes, sir. . . . .
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: [Prospective Juror], without stating what your beliefs are -- which you've almost done -- but do you have strong beliefs and knowledge in regard to whether someone driving taking these medications would be impaired or not be impaired? Do you have strong beliefs?
[PROSPECTIVE JUROR]: Yes, I believe they would be.
THE COURT: And, again, that's what we're trying to avoid, is --you're not called as a witness. You're not called as an expert. And I'm going to instruct all of the people who are here to ensure that nothing that one of you says about this case should affect what the rest of you do. Now, [Prospective Juror], whether you believe one way or the other it would or would not do ...

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