The Tennessee Supreme Court has grant permission to appeal in two Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases. The court has granted the appeals to test what are the limits a trial court has to dismiss DUI cases. The two cases to be on the watch for are St. of Tennessee v. Bell and State of Tennessee v. Merriman.
In St. v. Bell , Mr. Bell passed the field sobriety tests with flying colors. In fact, the court stated he did "pretty dog-gone good." After Mr.Bell passed the field sobriety tests , the police asked him to submit to a blood alcohol test. Mr. Bell should have decided just to do the field sobriety test. Mr.Bell was arrested. The court dismissed the DUI charge. State appealed. The ruling was affirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeals. The issue is can a trial court dismiss a DUI case for lack of probable cause. Under The Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, there is no procedure to file a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause. a defendant can only file a Rule 12 motion to dismiss. Nashville Lawyer David Raybin writes a hot list of cases. Ben Raybin predicts that the case will be affirmed. I hope it will be affirmed.However , I see the court reversing the decision. Field Sobriety tests are not the end all be all of any DUI case.It is just one part of the evidence. I expect the court rule that a jury should decide.
In State of Tennessee v. Merriman , the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a dismissal of a DUI case in Warren County Circuit Court. The police lost a DUI video.The court dismissed the case. In this case i agree with Mr.Raybin. There should be some harsh remedies for the loss of destruction of evidence especially videotape evidence. Violations of the discovery rules should be dealt with accordingly. If a suspect destroys evidence , they are charged with tampering with evidence. The sword of justice should come down as hard on the police who lose evidence.
Stay tuned to these two important cases before the Tennessee Supreme Court.