by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 15, 2022) — In a ruling expected Thursday, a post-conviction petition filed more than two years ago by Tennessee inmate Jason Lamar White was denied, albeit by a judge who retired 15 days ago.
The merits of White’s petition received a hearing in early July over three days, with White representing himself. The court, however, appointed J. Shae Atkinson White’s “elbow counsel,” an assignment which presumably concluded with Thursday’s opinion.
As The Post & Email reported approximately a week ago, Judge Robert “Bobby” Carter, Jr. was said by the Shelby County Criminal Court’s media representative, Kevin Fitts, to have retired August 31. Curiously, however, court clerk Heidi Herron last week told White’s mother, Kimberly, that despite his retirement, Carter would be issuing the scheduled ruling on September 15.
The online docket for White indicated the same until several days ago, when the newly-elected Judge James Jones, Jr. was noted as the “Judicial Officer” who would be presiding over the case on Thursday.
In a nine-page ruling signed on “the 15th day of September, 2022,” Carter concluded that “Petitioner has failed to carry his burden of proof.”
“The indictment clearly states the correct charge,” Carter wrote on page 8, in response to White’s having claimed that he was indicted on a “Class ‘E'” felony drug charge but convicted on a “Class ‘A'” felony without any documentation explaining the change. “The trial was for the correct charge,” Carter wrote in the vein of his August 30 denial of a post-conviction petition appeal by White’s co-defendant, Kristina Cole.
An appellate court had remanded Cole’s post-conviction petition to Carter with an order that he conduct a true “finding of fact” which the higher court had found lacking.
In October 2017, Carter sentenced White to 60 years in prison without the possibility of parole despite the non-violent nature of the crime in which White denies he participated.
At trial Carter sentenced Cole to 13.5 years in prison, which she appealed but thus far has been denied.
Cole appealed Carter’s latest denial of the issues she raised in her post-conviction petition; White has 30 days to do so, Atkinson wrote to Kimberly in an email Thursday afternoon.
On page 7, Carter incorrectly stated Cole’s first name as “Christian” and on page 1 omitted the third day of proceedings, July 11.