by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 14, 2022) — The online docket record of Tennessee inmate Jason Lamar White now reflects that the newly-elected criminal court judge in Shelby County will issue a ruling Thursday on White’s post-conviction hearing which took place over two months ago.
Judge Robert “Bobby” Carter, Jr. had presided over those hearings as well as over White’s 2017 trial which ended in a conviction and a sentence of six decades in prison without the possibility of parole for a non-violent crime.
By official reports, Carter did not seek re-election and retired on August 31, but his name appeared as the “Judicial Officer” in White’s record until very recently. On August 4, James Jones, Jr., an attorney from Bartlett, TN, was elected to replace Carter and sworn in on September 1.
On Monday morning, David Tulis of NoogaRadio interviewed White by telephone from prison in New Mexico, where White was sent in May 2019, asking, among other questions, why a retired judge would be releasing a ruling in White’s case.
The Post & Email asked the same question a day prior to Tulis’s interview, after White’s mother, Kimberly White, reported speaking with court clerk Heidi Herron, who told her Carter would issue a decision on the post-conviction matter on September 15 despite his retirement.
During the July hearings, White contended he was subjected to ineffective assistance of counsel during trial. His then-attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, was subpoenaed as a witness and in attendance, along with other key witnesses, including Tennessee inmate Montez Mullins, who White explained to Tulis had confessed to committing the crime alone but which turned Mullins into a third defendant in the case.
The second defendant, Kristina Cole, was also convicted and sentenced to 13 1/2 years in prison with no prior criminal record. Both were framed, White told Tulis, by circumstantial evidence showing he and Cole had been in touch by letter prior to February 3, 2016, when a package was left on Cole’s porch containing methamphetamine which she brought inside her house.
Cole was unaware the package contained a drug, White said, and had been expecting a box of jewelry Mullins asked if he could have delivered there for his mother.
In April, Cole received a favorable ruling on her post-conviction petition appeal, remanding the case back to the trial court and Carter. In a four-page opinion issued August 30, Carter denied Cole a rehearing, stating he found witnesses in her case compelling and that Cole’s counsel had not been ineffective during her trial.
Cole has appealed that ruling.
As of this writing, Carter’s photo continues to appear on the “Judges” tab of the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk’s website without any mention of Jones.