State v. LoweAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court held that the Exclusionary Rule Reform Act (ERRA), Tenn. Code Ann. 40-6-108, represents an impermissible encroachment by the legislature upon the Supreme Court’s authority and responsibility to adopt exceptions to the exclusionary rule and therefore violates the Tennessee Constitution’s Separation of Powers Clause.
Defendant was convicted to two counts of first degree premeditated murder and other crimes. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding (1) in light of today’s holding that the ERRA is unconstitutional, the trial court erred when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress in reliance on the ERRA; (2) a good-faith clerical error that results in an inconsequential variation between three copies of a search warrant required pursuant to Rule 41, in and of itself, does not entitle the moving party to suppression of the evidence collected pursuant to the warrant, and therefore, the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress under this good-faith exception; and (3) Defendant’s remaining arguments on appeal did not warrant reversal of her convictions.
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay
A jury convicted the Defendant, Lindsey Brooke Lowe, of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, and two counts of aggravated child abuse, all arising from the Defendant s smothering to death her newborn infant twins. The trial court merged the alternative counts of first degree murder as to each victim and sentenced the Defendant to two terms of life imprisonment for the murders and two terms of twenty-five years for the aggravated child abuse convictions, all to be served concurrently. On direct appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Defendant s convictions and sentences. We granted the Defendant s application for permission to appeal in order to address the following issues raised by the Defendant: (1) whether the Exclusionary Rule Reform Act, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-6-108 ( the ERRA ), violates the Tennessee Constitution s Separation of Powers Clause; (2) whether the trial court erred by relying on the ERRA to deny the Defendant s motion to suppress the evidence gathered at her house pursuant to a search warrant that did not conform with the technical requirements of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 41; (3) whether the trial court erred by ruling inadmissible certain expert testimony proffered by the defense during the hearing on the Defendant s motion to suppress her statement to Detective Malach; (4) whether the trial court erred by denying the Defendant s motion to suppress her statement; and (5) whether the trial court erred by prohibiting the Defendant s expert witness from testifying at trial about the reliability of her responses to Detective Malach s questions. We also directed the parties to address the additional issue of whether the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule adopted by this Court in State v. Davidson, 509 S.W.3d 156, 185-86 (Tenn. 2016), should be expanded to include clerical errors made by the issuing magistrate when the search in question is otherwise constitutional. We hold that the ERRA represents an impermissible encroachment by the legislature upon this Court s authority and responsibility to adopt exceptions to the exclusionary rule and, therefore, violates the Tennessee Constitution s Separation of Powers Clause; that the exclusionary rule should not be applied to suppress evidence gathered pursuant to a search warrant that is technically defective under Rule 41 due to the magistrate s simple and good-faith clerical error of incorrectly indicating on one of three copies of the warrant that it was issued at 11:35 PM while correctly indicating on the other two copies that it was issued at 11:35 AM ; that the trial court did not err in ruling inadmissible the defense expert s testimony at the hearing on the Defendant s motion to suppress her statement, although the trial court should have allowed defense counsel to proffer the testimony in a question and answer format; that the trial court did not err in ruling that the Defendant was not in custody at the time she made her statement to Detective Malach, rendering moot any claimed defects in the administration of Miranda warnings prior to her statement being made; and that the trial court did not commit reversible error in ruling inadmissible at trial certain proffered expert testimony by a defense witness. In sum, we affirm the Defendant s convictions and sentences.