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Posted by: Landry Butler on Oct 6, 2017

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Jessica Sisk, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tyler James Schaeffer.

Attorneys 2:

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Jimmy B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and Brad Jones, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): EASTER

This case should serve as a cautionary tale for any prosecutor, defense attorney, or trial court who attempts to negotiate or accept a guilty plea involving concurrent state and federal sentencing. Petitioner, Tyler James Schaeffer, pled guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, nine counts of vehicular assault, and one count of possession of a controlled substance analogue. He received an effective sentence of forty years to be served concurrently with a separate 100-year federal sentence. Now, Petitioner appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to retain a mental health expert, failure to request a change of venue, failure to properly investigate potential witnesses, and failure to adequately explain concurrent state and federal sentencing. The State concedes that Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel based on the sentencing issue alone. Following our review of the record and submissions of the parties, the majority concludes that Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court.