Case: State of Tennessee v. Ronald Lyons, James Michael Usinger, Lee Harold Cromwell, Austin Gary Cooper, and Christopher Alan Hauser
Facts: The Defendants, who were upset with various government officials, electronically submitted baseless lien filings against them with the Secretary of State’s office. The Defendants were convicted on multiple counts of forgery and fraudulent filing of a lien.
Appellate Decision: The intermediate court upheld the convictions. With respect to forgery, the court held that the Defendants’ actions amounted to “mak[ing] false entries in books or records” as proscribed by the statute.
Review Granted: August 5, 2021. The Supreme Court’s order specified review was granted “solely on the issue of whether the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions for forgery under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-114.”
Prediction: Ben thinks the Supreme Court will reverse the forgery convictions. Filing the false liens on the Secretary of State’s website did not amount to “making false entries.” Although the Defendants did assert fraudulent liens, they did not actually “make” any false entries in the Secretary of State’s records. The Defendants asserted actual liens, they were just frivolous ones. By contrast, a Secretary of State employee who entered a lien that was never requested into the official records would commit a forgery.