Tennessee Supreme Court Affirms Mother's Convictions For 1st-Degreee Murder And Aggravated Child Abuse Of Newborn Twins

Friday, July 20, 2018

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of Lindsey Lowe for first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, stemming from the deaths of her newborn twins caused by her smothering the infants shortly after birth. 

Prior to trial, Ms. Lowe moved to suppress evidence obtained under a search warrant, based on the fact that one of the three copies of the search warrant stated the warrant was executed at 11:35 p.m., when the other two copies stated that the warrant was executed at 11:35 a.m.  The trial court denied the motion to suppress, relying on the Exclusionary Rule Reform Act (“the ERRA”). Ms. Lowe raised the suppression issue, and other issues, on appeal following her convictions. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgments of the trial court, and the defendant filed an application for permission to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court granted appeal in this case to address the issue of whether the ERRA violates the Separation of Powers Clause of the Tennessee Constitution and other alleged errors raised by Ms. Lowe.  The Court also requested briefing on the additional issue of whether the Court should expand the good-faith exception adopted in State v. Davidson to include technical violations during the service of a search warrant when the search is otherwise constitutional.

In its decision, the Court first held that the ERRA encroaches on the judiciary’s authority by legislatively mandating an exception to the exclusionary rule. As a result, the Court held that the statute violates the Separation of Powers Clause of the Tennessee Constitution.  The Court determined that the trial court erred in relying upon the ERRA in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress. 

However, the Court then adopted a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule set forth in Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 when “a magistrate has issued a warrant in compliance with constitutional requirements but, in good faith, fails to comply with Rule 41’s technical requirement of three ‘exact’ copies.” When a defendant has established that a search warrant, or its supporting affidavit, fails to comply with the technical requirements of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 41, the State then has the burden of establishing that the technical noncompliance was due to a good-faith error and that the error did not prejudice the defendant.  In this case, the Court concluded that the record established that the error was made in good faith and that the error did not prejudice Lowe.  Based on this conclusion, the Court upheld the trial court’s admission of the evidence seized under the search warrant.  Finally, the Court rejected the other issues raised by Ms. Lowe and affirmed her convictions.

 

To read the Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion in State of Tennessee v. Lindsey Brooke Lowe, authored by Chief Justice Jeff Bivins, go to the opinions section of TNCourts.gov.



277 Baker Donelson Attorneys Included In The Best Lawyers In America 2019 Listing

Baker Donelson announces that 277 of its attorneys have been selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. "Forty-two of the Firm's attorneys were also recognized by Best Lawyers as "Lawyers of the Year," a designation given to a select group of individuals in high-profile specialties in large legal communities. Only one attorney ... (click for more)

6 Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon, PLLC Attorneys Named To 2019 Best Lawyers List

Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon, PLLC announced that six lawyers  have been included in the 2019 Edition of  The Best Lawyers in America . Since it was first published in 1983,  Best Lawyers  has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.   Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades, earning ... (click for more)

Trustee Hullander Says Airbnb Will Remit Hotel/Motel Tax Directly To His Office; It Has 600 Local Hosts With $7 Million Annual Income

Trustee Bill Hullander said Wednesday that Airbnb has agreed to directly remit hotel/motel tax for its 600 hosts in Hamilton County to his office. Mr. Hullander said prior to the agreement that his office had difficulty locating those renting out rooms or homes and had just 90 on the books. The agreement is slated to boost the current hotel/motel income from $85,000 to $560,000. ... (click for more)

County Attorney Says All Votes Were Counted In Recent Election Snafu, And None Affected Outcomes Of Races

County Attorney Rheubin Taylor, who is also the lawyer for the Election Commission, said all ballots were counted despite a recent election snafu. He said the affected voters did not affect the outcome of any election. Election officials said they learned just prior to the Aug. 2 election that there was a problem with  some district lines being improperly drawn several ... (click for more)

Jeff Styles, I Believe You - And Response (3)

I am glad that Jeff Styles presented the details of the event on his website.  Just because the government alleges a crime does not mean guilty. A criminal charge is an allegation by government. Sure, that allegation can be very serious, but the charge is still an unproven allegation until a court of law and Lady Justice has her review of the proof.  A person gets ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘The Cake Is Baked’

If all goes well, and as expected, Hamilton County Chancellor Jeff Atherton will tell a group representing the Democratic Party not to ever again clutter his office or his courtroom with such a childish amount of political poppycock as will be brought on display tomorrow. The Democrats want to block Robin Smith, a longtime Republican stalwart, from becoming our next State Representative ... (click for more)