Over the last few days , I have been thinking about the inequalities in the Tennessee criminal justice system . Most cases are misdemeanor cases and can be resolved in General Sessions Court. However , you are not entitled to receive information about your case which is commonly known as discovery . Since the vast majority of criminal cases are resolved in General Sessions , folks are settling their cases without knowing what the state has or doesn’t have to prove you guilty .
If your case is in criminal court or circuit court , you can request the state to provide you discovery under Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure . Once you make your request you are entitled to the following;
- The defendant’s oral statements
- The defendant’s written or recorded statements.
- The defendant’s prior record.
- Documents and objects in the state’s possession,
- Reports of examinations and tests.
In General Sessions Court, the state does not have to provide you with;
- The video of the DUI arrest.
- Your statements.
- Any tests on drug cases.
A person has to make a decision that impacts their life forever. Everyday in General Sessions Courts plea bargain agreements are made without the information that is provided if you took your cased to the criminal court level. It is incumbent of the Tennessee Supreme Court to modify the rules of procedure to make the discovery rule applicable in general Sessions Court. If not , how can a citizen accused obtain effective assistance of counsel ?