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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Sep 6, 2012

Head Comment: CORRECTED OPINION: On page 21, line 13; page 23, line 4; and page 28, line 2, the phrase "our supreme court" has been changed to "this court"

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Bradley A. MacLean and Joanne L. Diamond, Assistant Post-Conviction Defenders, for the appellant, Steven James Rollins.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General and Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, District Attorney General; and Barry P. Staubus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): OGLE

The Petitioner, Steven James Rollins, filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief from his convictions of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. The post-conviction court denied Petitioner relief on all grounds related to the guilt phase of the trial but granted a new sentencing hearing on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. The State is not challenging the grant of a new sentencing hearing. The Petitioner appeals the post-conviction court’s ruling denying relief as to the guilt phase of the trial. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that a biased juror served on his jury, that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorneys failed to voir dire potential jurors properly, and that his mental retardation exempts him from the death penalty. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the Petitioner was denied his constitutional rights to a fair and impartial jury and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore, the Petitioner’s convictions are reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.