Confidential Informants, Seeking Identity of

Unless otherwise indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court 

Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Patton, No. M2020-00062-CCA-R3-CD, p. 38 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. May, 6, 2022).

Generally, the State is not required to reveal the identity of a CI unless the CI participated in the crime, witnessed the crime, or has knowledge that is favorable to the defendant. State v. Ostein, 293 S.W.3d 519, 528 (Tenn. 2009). “Stated succinctly, an informer’s identity ‘cannot be concealed from the defendant when it is critical to his case.’” Id. (quoting Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 698 (1972)). However, if the CI is merely a “‘tipster or introducer,’” the State does not have to reveal the CI’s identity. Id. (quoting United States v. Sharp, 778 F.2d 1182, 1186 n.2 (6th Cir. 1985)). Likewise, the State does not have to reveal the CI’s identity if the CI only provided information used to obtain a search warrant. Id. If the defendant establishes, though, that the CI is material to the defense, the State is required to divulge the CI’s identity. Id. (citing State v. Vanderford, 980 S.W.2d 390, 397 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1987)). A trial court’s decision as to whether to order the disclosure of a CI’s identity is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Id. at 526.


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