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Snider v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 21, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs November 28, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C-16-131 Donald H. Allen, Judge No. W2017-00582-CCA-R3-PC

         The 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.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Daniel J. Taylor, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Ashley Snider.

          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 of Tennessee.

          Robert 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.


         I. Facts

         A. Guilty Plea Hearing

         This 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.

         This Court summarized the facts relevant to the certified question as follows:

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 [Petitioner].
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 bedroom dresser.
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 smell marijuana[.]
After the suppression hearing, the [Petitioner] pleaded guilty on all counts, and pursuant to his plea agreement reserved ...

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