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State v. Jones

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 27, 2018


          Session November 14, 2017

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. I-CR160015 Joseph A. Woodruff, Judge

         The Defendant, Jeffery A. Jones, pled guilty in the Williamson County Circuit Court to DUI .08 % or greater, reserving as a certified question of law whether the results of his forced blood draw should have been suppressed because the affidavit in support of the search warrant contained reckless falsities and the form nature of the search warrant and affidavit prevented the magistrate from making an informed judgment as to probable cause. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Robbie T. Beal and Erin W. Nations, (on appeal); and Ernest W. Williams (at trial), Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey A. Jones.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M. Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Tristan R.P. Poorman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Norma McGee Ogle, JJ., joined.


          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE


         Shortly after midnight on July 24, 2015, Deputy Gregory Wilhelm of the Williamson County Sheriffs Office stopped the Defendant for driving with a broken headlight. He detected the odor of alcohol emanating from the Defendant's vehicle and person and observed a cup of amber-colored liquid underneath the passenger seat. In addition, the Defendant, whose eyes were "bloodshot" and "watery, " fumbled for his insurance and registration, swayed and lost his balance as he exited his vehicle, and was "slow-speaking with a slight slur" as he answered the deputy's questions. After the Defendant failed the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and refused to participate in any further field sobriety tests, Deputy Wilhelm placed him under arrest for DUI and obtained a search warrant for a blood draw, which was executed at the hospital. The Defendant was subsequently indicted by the Williamson County Grand Jury for one count of DUI and one count of DUI .08 % or greater, both Class A misdemeanors.

         On March 18, 2016, the Defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of his blood draw on the basis that it violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Specifically, he alleged that the preprinted form nature of the affidavit in use in Williamson County was insufficient to establish probable cause and that it was obvious from the videotape of the traffic stop that the information checked by the deputy was incorrect.

         At the initial April 28, 2016 suppression hearing, Williamson County Magistrate Tim Cotton testified that he read the affidavit before he made his determination as to probable cause but did not question the deputy about his specific experience with DUI cases.

         Deputy Wilhelm testified that he had handled several DUI stops during the three years he had been employed with the Williamson County Sheriffs Department. He had no previous law enforcement experience prior to being hired by the Williamson County Sheriffs Department. He said he completed six to eight weeks of field training, served as a patrol officer for six months, and then was assigned as a school resource officer. However, during all school breaks he was reassigned to midnight patrol. He did not know how many DUI stops he had made during his entire three years as an officer, but he recalled that he had made two DUI stops in the past three weeks. Deputy Wilhelm agreed that he marked on the form affidavit that the Defendant was "unsteady, " "swaying, " "staggering, " and "heavy footed" and said that his interpretation of "heavy footed" is when someone "is unable to pick up [his or her] feet and take what a normal person would see as a normal step."

         On cross-examination, Deputy Wilhelm testified that he had a reasonable basis to believe that the Defendant was unsteady, swaying, staggering, and heavy-footed and that all the information contained in the preprinted paragraphs of the affidavit detailing his training and experience was true. Upon questioning by the trial court, Deputy Wilhelm testified that, as he recalled, the Defendant exhibited a "very light sway from side to side" when he was speaking with the Defendant outside his vehicle. He further testified that he based his characterizations of the ...

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