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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Nov 20, 2014

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Claiborne Hambrick Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus Puckett.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Michael R. McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): THOMAS

The Defendant, Marcus Puckett, was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and DUI per se. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401. The trial court merged the two charges, and the Defendant was sentenced to eleven months twenty-nine days, with all but seven days suspended, to be followed by supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant makes the following arguments: (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence of his blood-alcohol level based on an illegal search and seizure; (2) that the trial court erred in concluding that the State met its burden in proving compliance with State v. Sensing, 843 S.W.2d 412 (1992), and thus, should not have allowed the testing officer to testify regarding the results of his breath-alcohol test; and (3) that his constitutional rights were violated because the trial court failed to conduct a hearing pursuant to Momon v. State, 18 S.W.3d 152 (Tenn. 1999), following his decision not to testify at trial. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress based on an illegal search and seizure. We further hold that the trial court improperly concluded that the State complied with the Sensing requirements, and we therefore reverse the Defendant’s conviction and remand to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. Finally, although we conclude that the trial court’s failure to conduct a Momon hearing was plain error, we hold that such error does not necessitate further action from the trial court at this time because we have ordered a new trial on other grounds.