STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JASON LEE WHITE - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 9, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1: Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Gordon W. Smith and Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitors General; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Robert Nash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Attorneys 2: R. Lance Miller, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jason Lee White. Kathy Morante, James E. Lanier, and Jeffrey S. Henry, Nashville, Tennessee; William Crabtree, Knoxville, Tennessee; Garland Erguden, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference. Steven Ross Johnson, Ann C. Short, and Wade V. Davies, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Aimee D. Solway, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Judge(s): WADE

After robbing a Clarksville restaurant, the defendant was indicted for burglary, aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated kidnapping. A jury convicted the defendant on all three counts, after which he filed a motion to set aside the conviction for especially aggravated kidnapping as violative of due process, relying on State v. Anthony, 817 S.W.2d 299 (Tenn. 1991). The trial court denied the motion and sentenced the defendant to an effective twentyfive year term. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and dismissed the conviction for especially aggravated kidnapping on due process grounds. This Court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal. Following briefing and oral argument, we ordered additional briefing and argument addressing the application of due process principles to dual convictions for kidnapping and an accompanying felony, such as rape or robbery. We hold that the legislature did not intend for the kidnapping statutes to apply to the removal or confinement of a victim that is essentially incidental to an accompanying felony, such as rape or robbery. This inquiry, however, is a question for the jury after appropriate instructions, which appellate courts review under the sufficiency of the evidence standard as the due process safeguard. Because the defendant is entitled to a new trial with specific instructions as to the especially aggravated kidnapping charge, the cause is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

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