Supreme Court Ruling

State Supreme Court Upholds Judge Stern Ruling
March 13, 2006

The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld a ruling of Criminal Court
Judge Rebecca Stern in a case involving a traffic stop.

Judge Stern had ruled out evidence that led to DUI and obstructing
traffic charges against Kirk Williams.

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the decision of
Judge Stern, saying the stop and seizure were valid.

But the decision written by Supreme Court Justice William M. Barker of
Signal Mountain reinstates the Stern ruling.

The state high court said, “We hold that the defendant was seized by
the officer when the officer approached the defendant in his patrol car
and activated his blue emergency lights. Under the facts of this case, a
seizure occurred regardless of whether the vehicle was already stopped at
the time the officer approached. We also uphold the trial
court’s determination that the officer did not have
reasonable suspicion to justify the stop. Therefore, the trial court
correctly granted the defendant’s motion to suppress
the evidence obtained as a result of the stop. The decision of the Court
of Criminal Appeals is reversed, and the decision of the trial court
suppressing the evidence is reinstated.”


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