Assigned on Briefs November 28, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C-16-131 Donald
H. Allen, Judge No. W2017-00582-CCA-R3-PC
Petitioner, John Ashley Snider, pleaded guilty to six
drug-related charges in exchange for an effective sentence of
ten years of Community Corrections, after the service of
eleven months and twenty-nine days. At the time of the plea,
he reserved a certified question for appeal regarding law
enforcement officers' warrantless entry into his home and
the seizure of his person. This court dismissed the appeal,
holding that the certified question was not dispositive of
the case. State v. John Ashley Snider, No.
W2014-01848-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 5014605, at *3-4 (Tenn. Crim.
App., at Jackson, Aug. 25, 2015), perm. app. denied
(Tenn. Dec. 14, 2015). The Petitioner filed a petition for
post-conviction relief, alleging that he had received the
ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court
held a hearing, after which it denied the petition. On
appeal, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
J. Taylor, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Ashley
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Jody S.
Pickens, District Attorney General; and Alfred Lynn Earls,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which J. Ross Dyer, J. joined. Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., filed
a concurring opinion.
Guilty Plea Hearing
case arises from the Petitioner's possession of
controlled substances and drug paraphernalia. He entered a
plea of guilty to three counts of possession of a controlled
substance with the intent to sell, one count of simple
possession of a controlled substance, one count of possession
of synthetic cannabinoid, and one count of possession of drug
paraphernalia. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417
(Supp. 2012) (amended 2014) (possession of psilocybin,
marijuana, diazepam, alprazolam with intent to sell),
39-17-418 (2010) (amended 2014) (simple possession of
oxycodone), 39-17-425 (2014) (possession of drug
paraphernalia), 39-17-438 (Supp.2012) (amended 2013, 2014,
2015) (possession of synthetic cannabinoids). The trial court
sentenced the Petitioner to an effective ten years, ordered
him to serve eleven months, twenty-nine days in confinement,
and ordered him to serve the remainder on Community
Corrections. At the time of the guilty plea hearing, the
Petitioner reserved a certified question of law regarding the
legality of the warrantless entry into the Petitioner's
home and the seizure of the Petitioner from his doorway.
Court summarized the facts relevant to the certified question
This case relates to a "knock and talk" encounter
at the [Petitioner's] home on January 9, 2013, and to the
seizure of the [Petitioner] from his doorway by an officer.
The [Petitioner] was detained and held in an officer's
vehicle while a search warrant for his home was obtained.
After the search warrant was executed, the [Petitioner] was
arrested for multiple drug-related offenses. The [Petitioner]
filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the
search, alleging that the search was tainted by the
officer's prior unlawful warrantless entry into the
[Petitioner's] home and by the unlawful detention of the
At the suppression hearing, Madison County Sheriff's
Office Investigator Tikal Greer testified that on January 9,
2013, he and other officers went to the [Petitioner's]
home after receiving two anonymous tips from Crime Stoppers
that the [Petitioner] was growing marijuana. Officer Greer
arrived at the [Petitioner's] home around 6:25 p.m.
without a warrant to conduct a knock and talk.
Officer Greer testified that he and another officer went to
the front door and knocked several times. He heard music
coming from inside the house. He said the [Petitioner] opened
the door "[p]robably shoulder width." Officer Greer
said that he immediately smelled the odor of marijuana once
the door was opened. He said that he had worked in the
narcotics division for five years and that he had smelled
marijuana numerous times. The officers explained to the
[Petitioner] why they were there, and the [Petitioner] told
the officers that he would not consent to a search of his
home. Officer Greer said they told the [Petitioner] that they
were not asking for his consent to search his home. Officer
Greer said that the [Petitioner] attempted to close the door
and that Officer Greer "got [the [Petitioner] out"
and detained him to prevent the [Petitioner] from destroying
the marijuana Officer Greer suspected was inside the home.
Officer Greer left the scene to obtain a search warrant.
Officer Greer returned with the warrant and the home was
searched. He said that officers found 6.2 pounds of marijuana
and seventy-three jars of fermented psilocybin mushrooms. In
four or five of the jars, the mushrooms were growing. The
police also found equipment for cultivating marijuana and
mushrooms, six ounces of "hashite, " 2.5 ounces of
synthetic cannabinoids, 169 pills of assorted controlled
substances, and approximately $2000 in cash.
On cross-examination, Officer Greer testified that he
received the first anonymous tip regarding the [Petitioner]
around December 18, 2012. The officers began driving past the
[Petitioner's] home twice daily and also conducted
nighttime surveillance. Officer Greer said the surveillance
was unproductive. He said that the officers discussed a
"trash pull" but that they decided to conduct a
knock and talk instead. The officers did not conduct regular
surveillance between Christmas and New Year's.
Officer Greer testified that he received the second anonymous
tip on January 3, 2013. Surveillance resumed, but no unlawful
activity was observed. Officer Greer stated that he was not
frustrated or irritated at the lack of suspicious activity at
the [Petitioner's] home and agreed that he had no
specific reason to conduct the knock and talk on January 3.
Officer Greer agreed that a weather report from the day of
the search showed temperatures in the low 50's with rain
and 5.8 to 6.9 m.p.h. wind speeds. He said he smelled the
marijuana despite the weather.
Officer Greer testified that he knocked for two or three
minutes before the [Petitioner] opened the door. Officer
Greer agreed music was playing inside the home and said it
was possible the [Petitioner] did not hear the initial knock.
Officer Greer testified that he placed his foot inside the
front door to "grab" the [Petitioner] and to ensure
the [Petitioner] did not close the door. He said the
[Petitioner] was standing at the door. Officer Greer said
that it took about two hours to obtain the search warrant and
return and that the other officers reported no one entered or
left the home while he obtained the warrant.
Officer Greer testified that the raw marijuana he smelled
initially was found in the [Petitioner's] bedroom, ten to
fifteen feet from the front door. The [Petitioner's]
bedroom door was open when officers entered. Marijuana was
found in plastic containers, in jars, and loose on the
On redirect examination, Officer Greer testified that he was
approximately two feet from the front door when the
[Petitioner] opened it, that he leaned in closer to smell,
and that the home smelled of raw marijuana.
The trial court denied the [Petitioner's] motion to
suppress. The court reviewed the search warrant and credited
Officer Greer's testimony. The court stated that an
officer "has a right to detain someone who the officer
believes is attempting to perhaps destroy evidence." The
court found that Officer Greer's testimony supported a
conclusion that the marijuana would have been destroyed if
the [Petitioner] had closed the door. The court noted that
the detention was brief and concluded that based on the
totality of the circumstances, the officers did not violate
the [Petitioner's] rights. The court stated that the
officers had a right to approach the [Petitioner's] home.
The court also stated,
They approached the residence and smelled marijuana coming
from inside . . . it would appear that there's quite a
bit of carpeting . . . fabric and material of that nature
would absorb the odor of marijuana and it would be apparent,
so I credit the testimony when the officer said he could
After the suppression hearing, the [Petitioner] pleaded
guilty on all counts, and pursuant to his plea agreement