Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Butler v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 4, 2018

ADAM C. BUTLER
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs March 13, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C-17-165 Roy B. Morgan, Judge.

         The petitioner, Adam C. Butler, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2015 conviction of vandalism of property valued at $1, 000 or more but less than $10, 000. Discerning no error, we affirm.

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

          Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Adam C. Butler.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Al Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          JAMES CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE.

         A Madison County Circuit Court jury convicted the petitioner of one count of vandalism of property valued at $1, 000 or more but less than $10, 000 for damaging plants and shrubs belonging to a neighbor. See State v. Adam Christopher Butler, No. W2015-01843-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Jackson, June 8, 2016). At the petitioner's trial, the victim testified that she found the defendant in her yard at 1:45 a.m. wearing a "'canister sprayer' on his back" that he was using to spray her plants. Id., slip op. at 1-2. The victim confronted the petitioner, who "denied spraying her plants" and claimed that "the next door neighbor had hired him to spray for mosquitoes." Id., slip op. at 2. Within a week, the plants that the victim had observed the petitioner spraying began to show damage, and sometime thereafter most of the vegetation had died. The petitioner testified that he did not spray anything in the victim's yard. See id., slip op. at 4. Instead, he claimed, he had sprayed saltwater to kill poison oak in a hedge that belonged to an elderly neighbor who had hired the petitioner to do some yardwork. The petitioner also claimed that he sprayed the plants at night so that he could "work[] on the hedge the next day." Id. This court affirmed the petitioner's conviction and the accompanying four-year community corrections placement. Id., slip op. at 1.

         The petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief alleging, among other things, that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Following the appointment of counsel, the petitioner refined his claims to allege that his counsel performed deficiently by failing to adequately prepare the petitioner to testify at trial, by failing to secure an expert witness to testify about the effects of certain herbicides on vegetation, by failing to request a forensic mental health evaluation, by failing to conduct adequate pretrial investigation, and by "failing to ensure that the [p]etitioner was duly and adequately informed of the nature and causes of the accusations lodged against him."

         At the September 11, 2017 evidentiary hearing, the petitioner testified that his counsel "didn't dig into the facts of the chemicals" in order to show the jury that the substance that the petitioner sprayed could not have caused the damage to the victim's vegetation. He added that counsel should have obtained and presented expert testimony regarding the effect of the chemical that the petitioner had been using. The petitioner also claimed that counsel should have objected to the victim's testimony that he "was in her yard" and that he "sprayed her yard" when neither was true.

         The petitioner testified that trial counsel should have obtained medical and school records that indicated that the petitioner "[h]ad trouble in middle school" as a result of the injuries he received in an earlier car accident. Regarding his claim that counsel failed to adequately prepare him to testify, the petitioner said that counsel should have focused on "the way the chemical works and what went on that night" instead of "going over everything."

         The petitioner asserted that counsel should have interviewed Ms. Smith, the elderly neighbor who had hired him to spray the poison oak on her hedges, saying that "she would have been able to tell [the jury] that [he] was doing [his] job." The petitioner said that Ms. Smith was very ill at the time of the hearing.

         During cross-examination, the petitioner agreed that his mental health records would not have been relevant to any issue at trial. The petitioner maintained that the sprayer he had used on the night in question was still in his possession and that it still contained saltwater so that it might be subjected to expert testing. The petitioner said that trial counsel "just made [him] look bad" on the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.