State v. Decosimo

In this case challenging the constitutionality of Tenn. Code Ann. 55-10-413(f), the Supreme Court held that the Defendant’s constitutional challenges failed. The statutory scheme at issue here imposes a fee upon persons convicted of certain drug and alcohol offenses when Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) forensic scientists have conducted chemical tests to determine blood alcohol or drug content. The statute earmarks the fees imposed to an intoxicant testing fund, and monies in the fund remain available for appropriation to the TBI as determined by the General Assembly. Defendant argued that the statutory scheme provides TBI forensic scientists with financial incentives to produce blood alcohol test results that result in convictions, which increases fees and funding for the TBI. Therefore, Defendant argued, the financial incentives create an appearance of impropriety and deprive of her her constitutional right to a fair and impartial trial. The Supreme Court held (1) the standard of neutrality announced in Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510 (1927), and its progeny does not apply to TBI forensic scientists; (2) even if the Tumey standards applied, Defendant’s constitutional claim failed because there is no appearance of impropriety; and (3) the statute does not violate substantive due process. View "State v. Decosimo" on Justia Law