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State v. Mosier

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 31, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JENNIFER LYNN MOSIER

          Assigned on Briefs January 4, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 17-118 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The Defendant, Jennifer Lynn Mosier, entered a nolo contendere plea to DUI in the Madison County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 11 months, 29 days in the county jail, suspended after 48 hours. As a condition of her guilty plea, she attempted to reserve a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) regarding the validity of the arrest warrant. Because we agree with the State that the Defendant failed to comply with the strict requirements for properly certifying a question of law, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

          J. Daniel Rogers and Joseph E. Tubbs (on appeal) and J. Daniel Rogers (at trial), Humbolt, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jennifer Lynn Mosier.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Jody S. Pickens, District Attorney General; and Matthew Floyd, 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 Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE

         FACTS

         On December 12, 2015, the Defendant was driving west on Highway 412 in Madison County when she lost control of her vehicle and struck a second vehicle traveling in the lane beside her. The state trooper who responded arrested the Defendant for DUI and took her first to the hospital for a voluntary blood draw and then to jail. The trooper then prepared an affidavit of complaint or "Tennessee Uniform Citation" charging the Defendant with DUI, reckless driving, failure to exercise due care, failure to update driver license information, and violation of the financial responsibility law. On all but the DUI warrant, the trooper filled in December 12, 2015 at 9:47 p.m. under the affiant information portion and December 12, 2015 as the date on which he swore before the magistrate that the information contained on the form was true. On the DUI warrant, the trooper wrote in the date of December 14, 2015 at 9:47 p.m. under the affiant information section but the date of December 12, 2015 as the date he swore to the veracity of the information before the magistrate. Just below the affiant information box and the "sworn and subscribe" box on the DUI warrant is the "Court" box on which the Defendant's court date was listed as December 14, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. The back of the warrants show that all were issued on December 13, 2015.

         On February 27, 2017, the Madison County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the Defendant with two counts of DUI under alternate theories and violation of the financial responsibility law. On April 10, 2017, the Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the basis it had been returned after the one-year statute of limitations for the offenses had run. The Defendant argued that the arrest warrant was "void due to a discrepancy between the finding of probable cause by the clerk or magistrate and the date on which the alleged crime occurred, " which meant that the prosecution was not commenced until the filing of the indictment.

         At the April 24, 2017 evidentiary hearing, Trooper Kenny Ganaway of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, over the objection of the Defendant, testified that he prepared and swore to all the affidavits of complaint on December 12, 2015. He explained that the date of December 14 on the DUI warrant was a clerical error he made because he "was looking at the court date" when he filled out that warrant. Again over the objection of the Defendant, the State introduced all five warrants as exhibits to the hearing.

         On April 27, 2017, the trial court entered an order denying the Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment. The court found that all the warrants arose from the same event and were all sworn to by the trooper on December 12. The court concluded that the erroneous date of December 14 on the DUI warrant "was merely a clerical error and did not invalidate the arrest warrant."

         On June 5, 2017, the Defendant entered a nolo contendere plea to the two counts of DUI, which were merged into a single conviction, in exchange for a sentence of 11 months, 29 days at 75%, suspended after service of 48 hours. Pursuant to the terms of her guilty plea agreement, the third count of the indictment was dismissed. As a condition of her guilty plea, the Defendant attempted to reserve the following certified question of law, which was referenced in the judgment and which the prosecutor, defense counsel, and the trial court agreed was dispositive of the case:

Whether the arrest warrant for the charge of DUI, issued on December 12, 2015, was insufficient to initiate the prosecution of the charge of DUI when the trooper wrote the date of December 14, 2015 on ...

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