by Sharon Rondeau

The last two entries in Jason Lamar White’s record at the Shelby County Criminal Court “Odyssey” website as of 8:35 a.m. EDT, September 10, 2022

(Sep. 10, 2022) — A ruling is expected September 15 on the post-conviction petition of Tennessee inmate Jason Lamar White, according to Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Herron as relayed by White’s mother, Kimberly White.

Herron works with the elected clerk, Heidi Kuhn, and has been employed with the criminal court since 2003.

As The Post & Email has reported over a number of years, Jason White is housed in New Mexico and, absent a last-minute transfer order, is unlikely to make an in-person appearance for the hearing.

However, in early June White was transported back to Tennessee in advance of his July 5, 2022 post-conviction hearing in front of Judge Robert “Bobby” Carter, who did not seek reelection this year and reportedly retired August 31.

Rather than reflecting the three days of hearings in July, White’s online record shows the entry, “Taken Under Advisement” for each day of the proceedings, with a new “hearing” date set for September 1.

A subsequent entry indicated the hearing was “reset” to September 15 and continued to show “Carter” as the presiding jurist.

In July, White served as his own attorney, with elbow counsel J. Shae Atkinson present in the courtroom, to argue trial counsel failed to take all necessary steps to properly defend him during his 2017 trial. Shortly thereafter, White was transported back to New Mexico, where he remains.

In an email dated September 1, Atkinson told Kimberly he had appeared in court on Jason’s behalf in front of newly-elected Judge James Jones. “I went to court today for Jason, but Judge Carter was not there,” Atkinson wrote. “Today was the first day for Judge Jones in Division 3. He said Jason’s case was reset to September 15 and Judge Carter would have the order ready on that date.”

Atkinson did not provide a reason or indicate he asked for an explanation as to why Carter would be issuing “the order.”

In making inquiries to other Tennessee court systems, Kimberly said, she was told when a judge retires, his or her caseload is customarily transferred to the new judge, again raising the question as to why Carter would continue his involvement in the case.

Carter’s photo remains on the Shelby County Criminal Court website as of this writing, and there is no mention of Jones. Likewise, Judge W. Mark Ward, who ran for re-election but lost, is still pictured.

On Tuesday, The Post & Email was told by Shelby County Criminal Court media representative Kevin Fitts that Jones replaced Carter and that he could confirm Carter “retired.” He was unable to comment on why Carter’s name continues to appear on White’s online record but provided us a telephone number for Judge Jones’s secretary.

We discovered the number to be incorrect, with Fitts responding he has no alternate number.

As The Post & Email has reported, White was indicted on a charge of promoting the sale of methamphetamine but tried and convicted of the more serious charge of promoting and distributing 300 grams or more of methamphetamine in a “drug free zone.” Despite the non-violent nature of the alleged crime, Carter imposed a six-decade sentence, $2000 fine, and no possibility of parole.

White maintains his innocence, along with co-defendant Kristina Cole, who was also convicted and sentenced to 13.5 years in prison. In April, Cole was successful in convincing a three-judge appellate panel that her post-conviction petition was not properly addressed by the trial court, over which Carter had presided. The three-judge panel remanded the case with an order for it to conduct the necessary “finding of fact” and not simply a repetition of claims witnesses made at the trial which the court had found convincing.

However, in a four-page opinion dated August 30, 2022, Carter wrote, “In conclusion, this case was a very serious matter. Several attorneys attempted to persuade Petitioner to act in a manner that was most advantageous to her. She adamantly disagreed and chose to go to trial, perhaps under the influence of her co-defendant White…In a best-case scenario, trial counsel should file motions exploring every possible defense, even those rejected by the client. Failing to do so may be considered deficient. But the Petitioner bears the burden of showing, by ‘clear and convincing proof’ that these deficiencies were prejudicial. There has been no proof, no showing by Petitioner that a motion to suppress, a motion for severance or any other objection would have been granted, if they had been made.”

Cole appealed the ruling on Thursday.

White will be a guest on the David Tulis Show on NoogaRadio on Monday morning at 8:00 AM CDT. NoogaRadio is also on Facebook, where Tulis broadcasts live.

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