By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
High court overturns meth conviction
Ruling cites faulty search by deputies
Jerry Tidwell - photo by Submitted
The Georgia Supreme Court has overturned the drug conviction of a Taylorsville man nearly a year after he was sent to prison.

Jerry Tidwell, 53, was arrested Feb. 13, 2007, by the Forsyth County Sheriff’ Office on drug charges that included possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

A Forsyth County Superior Court jury convicted Tidwell and he was sentenced to five years for the methamphetamine charge, and one year each on charges of possession of drug-related objects and possession of marijuana, state department of corrections records show.

His sentence began April 24, 2008.

Tidwell filed a motion to suppress evidence against him in October 2007, but the Superior Court ruled against it.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the lower court “erred in denying Tidwell’s motion to suppress” due to the way in which the search was carried out.

The high court’s opinion shows that at the time of his arrest, Tidwell was a foreman at Lanier Livestock Auction. He was arrested after sheriff’s investigators searched the locker in his sleeping quarters.

They conducted the search without a warrant, though they had permission from another employee, the report shows.

The search turned up various items including a digital scale, glass smoking pipe, sandwich bags and a small bag of marijuana.

Investigators also found a duffle bag belonging to Tidwell that contained a white powder later determined to be methamphetamine.

According to the report, Tidwell stated that “the (duffle) bag is mine, but not the dope.”

“While it is true that the state may properly show that a warrantless search was justified based on permission to search being obtained by a third party, that third party must ‘possess common authority over or other sufficient relationship to the premises or effects sought to be inspected,’” the court ruled.

In addition, the report states that Tidwell had a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would have been required.

Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn said she may challenge the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“We are considering filing a motion to reconsider with the Supreme Court, but we haven’t made that decision,” she said.

E-mail Julie Arrington at