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    • Brief

    State v. Booker

    Brief of the National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers et al. as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellant.

    Argument: Tennessee’s sentencing statute for first-degree murder, which mandatorily imposes a minimum 51-year term of prison confinement on a juvenile, without consideration of the teenager’s youth and immaturity or other mitigating circumstances, violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clauses and other provisions of the federal and state constitutions. In Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. 460 (2016), the United States Supreme Court held that, in light of contemporary understanding of adolescent psychology and brain development, it is unconstitutional to mandatorily deprive a juvenile offender of “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” Because a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for 51 years exceeds the expected life-span of offenders sentenced at a young age, it does not provide young offenders with the “meaningful opportunity” for release contemplated by the Supreme Court of the United States. A majority of state court decisions from outside Tennessee have held that term-of-years sentences of over fifty years do not provide young offenders with a meaningful opportunity for release. Further, after Miller and Montgomery, numerous state legislatures have enacted juvenile sentencing and parole procedures allowing juveniles the opportunity for parole within a much shorter time period.

    • Brief

    Kendrick v. Tennessee

    Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers & Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of the Appellee.

    Argument: The United States Supreme Court’s recent analysis in Hinton v. Alabama of defense counsel’s responsibilities to investigate and obtain expert assistance directly applies to this case. In Baxter v. Rose this court outlines a reasonableness standard for ineffective counsel comparing counsel’s actions to a range of competence demanded of attorneys in a criminal case. Hinton v. Alabama applies a reasonableness standard which requires trial counsel to research scientific and technical evidence essential to the defense of the case in order to be within the range of competence demanded of criminal defense attorneys. Investigation of the prosecution’s proposed scientific or technical evidence on critical facts essential to the defense is a necessary part of rendering constitutionally adequate counsel. Counsel’s investigation of forensic sciences and techniques related to a fact essential to a defense is critical because of the powerful impact expert testimony has at trial. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Science’s report on the forensic science community highlights the shortcomings of the field as well as the powerful impact that faulty forensic science can have on those accused of a crime. Extensive research has shown a positive correlation between faulty forensic science testimony and the wrongful conviction of those accused of a crime.

    • Brief

    Tennessee v. Decosimo

    Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Filed In Support of the Defendant/Appellee

    Argument: The Court should apply strict scrutiny and hold that Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-413(f), which requires the payment of a $250 fee when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) provides expert proof to local law enforcement agencies in the form of a blood alcohol or drug concentration test. is unconstitutional on substantive due process grounds. That fee is assessed only when the expert proof provided by the TBI results in a conviction for certain crimes, including DUI. Applying strict scrutiny, this Court should find that section 55-10-413(f) is more restrictive than is necessary to achieve the State’s interest in funding the TBI’s forensic testing operation. Because section 55-10-413(f) encroaches upon the criminal defendant’s fundamental right to a fair trial, strict scrutiny is the applicable standard of review. Section 55-10-413(f) cannot withstand strict scrutiny because it is not narrowly tailored to serve the State’s interest in funding the forensic testing performed by the TBI. Even if strict scrutiny does not apply, none of the State’s arguments demonstrate that section 55-10-413(f) comports with due process principles. Partiality on the part of the TBI forensic scientists is not consistent with due process. The conviction-dependent, contingency-fee system in this case is different than the administrative system of assessing civil penalties at issue in Marshall v. Jerrico. The TBI’s pecuniary interest in obtaining criminal convictions is sufficient to sustain the due process claim. The Court of Criminal Appeals properly suppressed the forensic evidence without requiring a showing of actual bias.