CCA Rejects Overly Broad DUI Certified Question in Sequatchie County Case

CCA Rejects Overly Broad DUI Certified Question in Sequatchie County Case

In this Sequatchie County case before Judge Smith, the defendant pled guilty to first offense DUI and reserved a certified question of law for appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals.  The CCA dismissed the appeal and found that the question was too broad and therefore the court was without jurisdiction.

The court citing State v. Preston, 759 S.W.2d 647 (Tenn. 1988), indicated the Supreme Court makes it explicit to the bench and bar exactly what the appellate courts require as prerequisites to the consideration on the merits of a certified question of law.

Partin’s certified question is as follows: "Whether the encounter between the Defendant and Deputy Gary Craft of the Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Department on November 14, 2008 on Fredonia Mountain Road in Sequatchie County and the subsequent observations, search, seizure and arrest of the Defendant by Deputy Craft were in violation of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions and the laws of the State of Tennessee."

The CCA agreed with the state that Partin failed to properly reserve his certified question because the question as written does not clearly identify the scope and limits of the legal issue presented.  The opinion instructs that other than a general statement referencing “the encounter,” Partin’s certified question sets out neither specific facts about the encounter that constitute a violation of the federal and state constitutions as well as the laws of Tennessee nor in what way the encounter violated the constitutions and laws.

The certified question as written in this case,the CCA found, would require a dissertation of search and seizure law, and “ this Court is not willing to do so without parameters set by the [defendant]. “   It is the defendants ’s burden to “reserv[e], articulat[e], and identify[ ] the issue.”  Pendergrass, 937 S.W.2d at 838. Because Partin failed to properly reserve his certified question of law, the CCA finds they are without jurisdiction to review the merits of his claim.

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