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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jan 14, 2015

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Attorneys 2:

Joshua D. Hedrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Justin Ellis.

Judge(s): BIVINS

We granted the State of Tennessee permission to appeal in this criminal proceeding to address two issues: (1) the analytical framework that a successor judge should utilize in deciding whether he can act as the thirteenth juror, and (2) the standard of appellate review of a successor judge’s determination that he can or cannot act as the thirteenth juror. We hold that there is a rebuttable presumption that a successor judge can act as the thirteenth juror. We also hold that an appellate court should review de novo a successor judge’s decision about acting as the thirteenth juror. Applying these principles to the instant case, we hold that the successor judge committed no reversible error in determining that he could act as the thirteenth juror. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and reinstate the trial court’s judgments of conviction.