Snitches or confidential informants are one of the standard tools that police and District Attorneys use in trying to obtain a conviction in a criminal case.. In two high profile cases here in Nashville , Tennessee the jail house snitch was used effectively. First , Perry March was tried of trying to arrange a murder

Several years ago the Tennessee State Legislature enacted the Drug Free School Zone Act.  The purpose was to prevent drug trafficking at or near our schools.  I agree wholeheartedly that schools should be a place of learning and not a breeding ground for drug sales to children.  However, the police and the District Attorneys

Music lovers from across the nation will be coming to Manchester , Tennessee for the Bonnaroo Music Festival which kicks off this Thursday.Lynn Edwards of Nashville’s Metro Mix wrote an excellent  Bonnaroo Survival Guide which includes tips on Bonnaroo. However , Bonnaroo also brings out law enforcement from the Tennessee Highway Patrol to local police.Here’s my

Here is a video of an execution of a search warrant.  Most search warrants do not go like this, but I thought it is a great example of a search warrant gone wrong.  Thanks to Simple Justice and Radley Balko for this educational video.

On March 19th 2010 , the Tennessee Supreme Court decided State v. Talley. The issue was whether an owner of a condominium has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the commonly owned hallway of the complex. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution protect against warrantless search and seizures, including the curtilage of the home, which is defined as any area adjacent to a residence in which an individual can reasonably expect privacy. For example ,s storage shed or detached garage would be a curtilage of a house.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals enunciated a bright-line rule in United States v. Carriger that officers may not enter the common areas of a locked building without a warrant due to the expectation of privacy that only the resident and other residents and their invited guests would have access to the common areas. It appears that the Sixth Circuit, along with several State Supreme Courts, follows this bright-line rule. 

In contrast, the Tennessee Supreme Court held in Talley that the totality of the circumstances should control. The deciding factors are whether the defendant owns the property or has a possessory interest in it, is legitimately on the premises, has the right to exclude others from that place, has shown a subjective expectation that the place would be free from governmental invasion, and took normal precautions to maintain his privacy. These factors were first used by courts in Tennessee in 1982. The Second, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits all appear to use the same totality of the circumstances factors. 

Although state courts within a particular federal district may consider what the lower federal courts have decided, the state courts are not required to follow those decisions.   The result? Depending on what state you live in, and perhaps whether the charges are filed in state or federal court, you may or may not have a right to privacy in these secured common areas. This so called split of authority among the circuits will only be resolved when the United States Supreme Court takes a case and finally decides for all of us what the Constitutional right to privacy means in this context.  

Continue Reading Seach and Seizure Issue at the Tennessee Supreme Court

Purdue Pharma has taken action to prevent abuse of it’s powerful painkiller OxyContin.Purdue has taken steps to reformulate OxyContin to prevent the pill from being cut,broken,chewed,crushed or dissolved to release more medication that increase the risk of drug abuse and overdoses.It is predicted the new format will result in less abuse by inhaling or injection.OxyContin

Just got back from being out of town for awhile and catching up at the office on a rainy Sunday.The topic today is the use of snitches in drug cases in both Federal Court and State Court criminal cases. The U.S.Attorney General has published a guideline on how the FBI should use confidential informants. A copy

Drug Interdiction cases are on the rise on Tennessee interstates A trip down I-40 or I-24 will reveal all types of police drug interdiction units.I prepared a short video of the ins and outs of defending a drug interdiction case.Here’s some tips on how to beat a drug interdiction case.