Criminal Law – Blockburger, multiple issues: Tommie Brown v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (SC 10/29/2009)

Tommie Brown v. Commonwealth of Kentucky
2008-SC-000281-MR October 29, 2009
Opinion by Justice Noble. All sitting; all concur.

Brown was convicted of multiple charges after an incident where he led police on a high-speed chase. On appeal, the Court reversed Brown’s convictions of two counts of second-degree wanton endangerment as violative of the prohibition on double jeopardy. Applying the test from Blockburger, the Court held that second-degree wanton endangerment requires proof of no facts beyond those required to prove first-degree fleeing or evading police, of which Brown had also been convicted. The Court affirmed the rest of Brown’s convictions, holding that:

1) Brown was not entitled to a directed verdict due to insufficiency of the evidence.

2) Brown was not denied an impartial tribunal because of approving statements made by the trial court after the jury gave its sentence recommendation.

3) There was no error by the trial court in allowing the jury to hear that Brown’s passenger was a 16 year old high school student, since the information was not unduly emphasized or intended to arouse sympathy.

4) It was error for the trial court to instruct the jury that the passenger was a high school student as part of its second-degree wanton endangerment instruction– but the issue was not properly preserved and did not rise to the level of palpable error.

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