Belmont Criminal Law Journal


Student comments on the Tennessee Supreme Court decision “State of Tennessee v. Sedrick Clayton”. All defendants charged with crimes deserve a competent and rigorous defense because of the higher stakes in a criminal matter, the loss of liberty, and none more so than in a capital punishment case where the stakes for the defendant are at the highest—the loss of life. This case and the Court’s subsequent analysis illustrates the incredible importance of compliance with all procedural requirements when mounting a defense on behalf of a defendant, as the failure to comply with certain procedural rules ultimately resulted in the defendant waiving review of his Fourth Amendment violation claim on appeal. Despite this waiver, the Court of Criminal Appeals did conduct a review of his claim but because of that waiver, consideration of that claim was pursuant to the Court’s Plain Error Review, a much higher burden to meet. This case highlights the importance of ensuring they are complying with all procedural requirements at every stage of the litigation process and reaffirms that, though a person has enumerated constitutional rights, in order for your constitutional rights to be exercised, a defendant must do exactly that—make a clear showing of intent to exercise your rights. This right is not guaranteed unless it exercised properly.


Criminal Law, Tennessee, Tennessee Supreme Court, Advice of Rights, Death Sentence