by Sharon Rondeau

(Jun. 27, 2022) — On June 22, inmate Jason Lamar White submitted a 190-page Application to file an “Extraordinary Appeal” with the Court of Criminal Appeals at Jackson, TN in his ongoing efforts to argue the process responsible for his incarceration was flawed for several reasons.

In the application, White presented two questions concerning Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Robert “Bobby” Carter’s repeated rescheduling of an evidentiary hearing on White’s post-conviction petition, which was filed in April 2020. Carter has rescheduled the post-conviction hearing five times in the last ten months, with the current date set for July 5.

White also objected to his May 2019 transfer to the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) as he was in the midst of appealing the 2017 conviction on drug-related charges, leaving him without access to Tennessee law.

The questions White asked of the court are:

  1. Whether the Post-Conviction Judge is abusing the Judicial Procedures by continuing to set off the Petition’s evidentiary hearing?
  2. Whether the Post-conviction Judge is violating Petitioner’s constitutional rights to access to the courts in a meaningful time and a meaningful matter as a self-represented litigant?

As White noted, his request to file follows another on June 9, 2021, in which he cited Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rule 10, which states, in relevant part:

An extraordinary appeal may be sought on application and in the discretion of the appellate court alone of interlocutory orders of a lower court from which an appeal lies to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or Court of Criminal Appeals: (1) if the lower court has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to require immediate review, or (2) if necessary for complete determination of the action on appeal as otherwise provided in these rules. The appellate court may issue whatever order is necessary to implement review under this rule.

“Petitioner states Judge Carter [sic] abuse of discretion is found in denying the Petitioner, pro se of his rights to be present in his post-conviction proceedings, has violated Petitioner’s constitutional rights to due process, and has made rulings in the Petitioner’s post-conviction proceedings in continuing to delay his evidentiary hearing past the mandated rules set out by the Tenn. Sup. Ct. Rule 28: Post-conviction Procedures,” White wrote on page 10 of the application.

According to Rule 28, “A petition for post-conviction relief is an application to the court, filed by or on behalf of a person convicted of and sentenced for the commission of a criminal offense, that seeks to have the conviction or sentence set aside or an appeal granted on the ground or grounds that the conviction or the sentence or the denial of an appeal violated the state or federal constitution. A pro se petition is one filed by a petitioner without the benefit of counsel.”

The “court obligations” after receiving a post-conviction petition are stated as:

(1) The presiding judge shall assign a judge to hear the case who may be the original hearing judge. Should the presiding judge fail to assign a judge, and no judge is designated by the Chief Justice, the judge who presided at the original trial shall hear the petition.

(2) Within thirty (30) days after a petition or amended petition is filed, the judge to whom the case is assigned shall review the petition and all documents related to the judgment and determine whether the petition states a colorable claim.

(3) In the event a colorable claim is stated, the judge shall enter a preliminary order which:

(a) appoints counsel, if petitioner is indigent;

(b) sets a deadline for the filing of an amended petition;

(c) directs disclosure by the state of all that is required to be disclosed under Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, to the extent relevant to the grounds alleged in the petition, and any other disclosure required by the state or federal constitution;

(d) orders the state to respond and, if appropriate, to file with the clerk certain transcripts, exhibits, or records from the prior trial or hearing; and

(e) makes other orders as are necessary to the efficient management of the case.

White’s conviction came just as he was completing a 20-year sentence for a burglary in which he participated at the age of 18. As The Post & Email has reported, one of the issues White raised in his post-conviction petition is that the charges on which a grand jury indicted him in April 2016, two Class “E” felonies, were upgraded to Class “A” felonies on his judgment sheet without explanation, rendering him a significantly harsher punishment which Carter meted out in the form of six decades in prison without the possibility of parole as well as a $2,000 fine.

At age 41, White remains a prisoner for life despite the non-violent nature of his alleged crime. White and a co-defendant who was also convicted, Kristina Cole, maintain their innocence in the alleged 2016 plot to distribute methamphetamine in a “drug-free zone.”

In April, Carter’s denial of Cole’s post-conviction petition was reversed by an appellate court and remanded, with the three-judge panel finding Carter failed to perform a “finding of fact” in investigating Cole’s claims.

As White related in the new application, early in the appeal process he applied for and received permission from Carter to represent himself. However, White was provided “elbow counsel” in the person of J. Shae Atkinson, who has reported to White’s mother, Kimberly White, having served witness subpoenas on Jason’s behalf on multiple occasions after hearing dates were repeatedly reset and transfer orders for White’s transport from New Mexico to Tennessee revoked.

Carter’s penchant for “resetting” White’s long-sought hearing has been manifest since July 24, 2020, as shown by White’s record at the Shelby County Criminal Justice System as of June 27, 2022. Of 14 printed pages, the following represent pages 8-13, with page 14 (not shown) being a “financial” report.

On April 7, an unnamed court employee allegedly told Atkinson that White requested a postponement of the hearing scheduled for that day on the grounds that one of the subpoenas had not been served, a claim White has denied.

Early this month, White was unexpectedly retrieved by Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) officers who transported him back to Tennessee in a 15-hour trip wherein he reported being prevented from exiting the vehicle for any reason. Consequently, he told The Post & Email, he was forced to void in a “plastic bag.”

Upon his arrival at a Tennessee state prison, White was reportedly placed in an armored cell and denied contact with other inmates in the general population despite his classification as “medium security” and not “close” or “maximum security.” When The Post & Email contacted TDOC Advisory Counsel Bryce Coatney about White’s claims, Coatney related that the treatment we described was in direct contradiction with TDOC “policies and practices” and that he therefore doubted their accuracy.

Shortly thereafter, we were told, White was moved to a regular cell and allowed customary phone privileges.

As of Monday morning, one of White’s witnesses to whom Atkinson reported issuing a subpoena for July 5 is reported as “unserved” in White’s record.

On Monday morning, The Post & Email contacted Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Herron to ask if her records show any information on the unserved subpoena, to which she responded that the Shelby County Sheriff Office is responsible for serving subpoenas, and her office receives no status reports on subpoenas until the process is concluded.

Carter is believed to be retiring from the bench by the end of the year.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.