PAUL DENNIS REID, JR. EX REL. LINDA MARTINIANO v. STATE OF TENNESSEE and PAUL DENNIS REID, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jan 24, 2013

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Kelly A. Gleason and Bradley A. MacLean, Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Paul Dennis Reid, Jr. and Linda Martiniano.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Christopher Brett Jaeger, J. Patrick Warfield, and Gregory D. Smith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amici Curiae, Jerry P. Black, Terry A. Maroney, Steven J. Mulroy, Christopher Slobogin, Jeffrey Usman, and Penny J. White.

Judge(s): KOCH

This appeal raises the question of whether a prisoner facing the death penalty has the mental capacity to abandon the pursuit of post-conviction relief in his three murder cases. After the prisoner decided not to seek a new trial in any of these cases, one of his sisters, in cooperation with the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, filed a “next friend” petition in each of the prisoner’s three murder cases, requesting the courts to declare the prisoner incompetent, thereby enabling her to pursue post-conviction relief on his behalf. The Criminal Court for Davidson County and the Circuit Court for Montgomery County conducted separate hearings in 2008. Each court denied the petitions after determining that the prisoner’s sister and the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender had failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the prisoner lacked the capacity to make rational decisions regarding the pursuit of post-conviction relief. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed both of these judgments. Reid v. State, Nos. M2009-00128-CCA-R3-PD, M2009- 00360-CCA-R3-PD, M2009-01557-CCA-R3-PD, 2011 WL 3444171 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 8, 2011). We granted the prisoner’s Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application. We have determined that both trial courts employed the correct legal standard for determining whether the prisoner possessed the mental capacity to rationally forego seeking post-conviction relief and also that the prisoner’s sister and the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the prisoner lacked the capacity to make rational decisions regarding the pursuit of post-conviction relief. For the sake of consistency, we further hold that, in all future cases, Tennessee’s courts should employ the mental competency standard of Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 28, § 11(B) whenever the issue of a prisoner’s competency to pursue post-conviction relief is properly raised.

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