TBI Violates Court Order By Refusing To Expunge Records

Image Credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation / LinkedIn

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) was recently reprimanded by the Tennessee Supreme Court for defying a court order and overstepping its authority.

By law, the TBI is bound by court orders and must comply, even if they disagree with the order’s content.

The case that brought about the dressing-down of the TBI by the Supreme Court involved an unnamed defendant, who through an agreement with the court was promised that his record would be expunged following four years of probation and a $350 fine paid.

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The defendant completed his end of the deal and petitioned the court for the record’s expungement to be completed.  The state of Tennessee agreed with the expungement resulting in a circuit court issuing an order that all public records related to his offense be officially destroyed.  

As required by a state statute, the TBI received a copy of the order and upon reception, under another statute, the organization was required to comply within 60 days.

However, the defendant learned that the TBI refused to clear his charges from the record citing the reasoning that the charges against him were ineligible for expungement.

In response, the defendant sued the TBI and its director, Daid Rausch, in the Davidson County Chancery Court to force them to comply.

The court ruled that TBI was not immune to lawsuit due to the fact they are a government agency stating that the agency must comply with such an order, unless the charge on file involves sexual offenses, which are exempt from expungement under law.

The Supreme Court unanimously approved the chancery court’s decision issuing this statement:

“No statute grants the TBI authority to independently review and decline to comply with a final expunction order it considers erroneous.  The determination of whether an offense is eligible for expunction is an obligation entrusted to courts, not the TBI.”

However, the Supreme Court emphasized that there is nothing that prevents a district attorney general from consulting the TBI on expungements, and said that the State may appeal or challenge an expungement order that it believes to be unlawful.

With this case specifically, though, the entry of the expungement order was agreed upon with the Court stating that the TBI was bound by the order and could not refuse to comply with it since state agencies lack the power to alter a judicial order.

The Tennessee Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

One thought on “TBI Violates Court Order By Refusing To Expunge Records

  • June 6, 2022 at 10:32 pm
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    Those responsible should face jail time and let them try to get it removed. Why should anybody trust Law enforcement when they don’t even follow the laws they swore to uphold? Time for a house cleaning at the TBI!

    Reply

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