Court Opinions

Format: 02/13/2016
Format: 02/13/2016
Ernest Lee Jennings v. Gerald McAllister, Warden
E2015-01805-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa N. Rice
A jury convicted the petitioner of three counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class B felony. In this petition for the writ of habeas corpus, the petitioner alleges that various errors at trial and on post-conviction render his convictions void. The trial court dismissed the petition without a hearing, and the petitioner appeals the dismissal. We conclude that the trial court did not err in dismissing the petition, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Jordan
W2014-01568-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Joseph Jordan, was convicted of rape, a Class B felony, two counts of false imprisonment, Class A misdemeanors, and one count of domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by not requiring the State to make an election of offenses; that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; that the testimony of a witness did not open the door to his prior conviction for domestic assault; that the trial court erred in restricting the testimony of a second witness to impeach the victim; that the trial court erred by instructing the jury regarding the mens rea of recklessness for the crime of rape; that the trial court should have instructed the jury regarding the defense of voluntary intoxication; that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his prior bad acts; that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct in its opening statement; that it was plain error to allow the victim to testify that the defendant was incarcerated; and that his convictions should be reversed under the doctrine of cumulative error. Following our thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
Billy Butler, et al. v. Malvin Carvin Pitts, Jr., et al. v. Marilyn James Morris, et al.
W2015-01124-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor George R. Ellis

This is an easement case. Appellants, the servient land owners, appeal the trial court‟s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Appellees, the former owners of both the dominant and servient tracts of land. Based on the fact that the disputed easement was recorded prior to the sale to the Appellants, the trial court determined that there was no dispute as to any material fact and that Appellees were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

Haywood County Court of Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Darrian White
W2015-01645-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Appellant, Darrian White, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that he was released on bail prior to committing several offenses and that his sentences are illegal because the trial court ordered them to be served concurrently rather than consecutively. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Larry Pittman
W2015-01237-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, currently serving a life sentence as the result of a 1984 conviction for armed robbery, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, claiming that the sentencing court erred in finding him to be a “persistent offender.” His motion was denied without a hearing, and he appealed. Following our review, we affirm the order of the trial court dismissing the motion.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Isen Berry
W2015-01531-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Isen Berry, appeals the trial court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve the balance of his six-year sentence in the Department of Correction. He contends that the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that he had violated the conditions of his community corrections. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony R. Smith, Jr.
M2015-01289-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

Defendant, Anthony R. Smith, Jr., filed a motion to dismiss his indictment for possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony drug offense, which was granted by the trial court.  The State appealed the dismissal.  Upon our review of this matter of first impression, we determine that the definition of “felony” provided in Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-11-110 controls the determination of whether an out-of-state conviction constitutes a “felony drug offense.”  We reverse the decision of the trial court, reinstate the indictment, and remand for further proceedings.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Tammy Marie Harbison
M2015-01059-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant-Appellant, Tammy Marie Harbison, entered an open guilty plea to one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000 in the Lawrence County Circuit Court.  As a Range I, standard offender, she received a three-year sentence, which was suspended following service of six months in incarceration.  On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her request for full probation.  Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for entry of a judgment sentencing the Defendant-Appellant to serve her three-year sentence on supervised probation.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
Tourie Bryant v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01705-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The petitioner, Tourie Bryant, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He pled guilty to one count of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class C felony, and received a six-year sentence in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily because he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to properly communicate with the petitioner; and (2) failing to “properly articulate” that the petitioner was waiving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress by pleading guilty and failing to provide the petitioner with an opportunity to review the plea agreement terms prior to his acceptance.  Following a thorough review of the record before us, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
Dennis Miracle v. Roger Murray, et al.
E2015-0248-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Frank V. Williams, III

This is an appeal from a Final Order and Judgment in a case arising out of a dispute over real property located in Roane County, Tennessee. There was no court reporter present for the trial. The Chancellor recused himself from the case post-judgment but before the record was prepared and transmitted for this appeal. The Circuit Court Judge accepted the case by interchange for purposes of resolving the parties' dispute regarding a statement of the evidence for inclusion in the record. The Circuit Court Judge concluded that he was unable to resolve the parties' dispute pursuant to Rule 24(f) of the Rules of Appellate Procedure, and granted a new trial. As a result, there is no longer a final judgment in the proceedings below, and this Court no longer has jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Roane County Court of Appeals 02/12/16
Randy Bea Anderson v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00112-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Petitioner, Randy Bea Anderson, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief arising from his guilty plea to one count of aggravated burglary, one count of theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000, and one misdemeanor count of theft of property valued at $500 or less.  On appeal, he contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with his guilty pleas.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Danny Wayne Horn
E2015-00715-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street
The Defendant, Danny Wayne Horn, was convicted by a jury of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-504. He received a sentence of ten years' incarceration for said conviction. The Defendant now appeals, arguing that the evidence presented was insufficient to support his conviction; that the trial court erred in denying his request for a mistrial after the victim stated that she identified the Defendant from “his picture on a sex offender website”; and that the State committed plain error during closing argument by alluding to the Defendant's status as a registered sex offender. Following our review, we discern no reversible error and affirm the trial court's judgment.
 
Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
Roger Joseph v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01324-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The petitioner, Roger Joseph, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner pled guilty to premeditated first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In his instant petition, he contends that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily based upon the ineffective assistance of counsel. While acknowledging that the petition was filed well outside the statute of limitations, he claims that he has shown that due process requires the tolling of the statute based upon his mental condition. Based upon that assertion, he contends that the summary dismissal of the petition was erroneous. Following review of the record, we conclude that the law of the case doctrine prohibits our review of that issue and affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
William Lance Walker v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02331-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert G. Crigler

William Lance Walker (“the Petitioner”) filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.  The Petition was denied after a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner asserts for the first time that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call for the sequestration of witnesses during the Petitioner’s suppression hearing.  We conclude that the Petitioner has waived this claim by failing to include it in the Petition and by failing to present any proof about this claim at the post-conviction hearing.  Additionally, we conclude that, even if the issue were not waived, the Petitioner has failed to show that he was prejudiced by trial counsel’s alleged deficiency.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Owen Smithson
M2015-00863-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

Jeffrey Owen Smithson (“the Defendant”) appeals from his convictions for first degree felony murder, theft over $1,000, first degree premeditated murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  The Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial based upon a witness’s testimony that the Defendant had been recently released from prison; and (3) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to suppress his statement to police as not voluntarily given.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Lashonda Moneak Williamson
M2015-01818-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

LaShonda Moneak Williamson, the Appellant, appeals the summary denial of her Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence that she claims was imposed as the result of a coerced guilty plea.   Because the Appellant’s motion failed to state a colorable claim, we affirm the trial court’s summary denial of the motion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Terry Eugene Fisher, Jr.
M2015-01388-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Terry Eugene Fisher, Jr. (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to nine years’ probation.  Thereafter, the Defendant’s probation was revoked based on the accrual of new charges, including a charge for a homicide that occurred prior to the Defendant’s being placed on probation.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it revoked probation based on criminal conduct that occurred prior to the Defendant’s being placed on probation.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. James Jordan Leggett
M2015-00869-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

James Jordan Leggett appeals claiming that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Horace Dunlap
M2015-00358-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The defendant, Horace Dunlap, appeals the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence.  Because the defendant’s sentences have expired, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Amilcar C. Butler
M2015-01053-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The defendant, Amilcar C. Butler, appeals the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence.  On appeal, he argues that he illegally received concurrent sentences when he should have received consecutive sentences.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
Craig Beene v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01054-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The petitioner, Craig Beene, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for the writ of habeas corpus.  Because the petitioner failed to follow the procedural requirements governing the writ of habeas corpus and failed to state a cognizable claim for relief, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Linzey Danielle Smith
M2013-02818-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

We granted permission to appeal in this case to determine whether the traffic stop of the Defendant, Linzey Danielle Smith, violated the constitutional rights of the Defendant.  The arresting officer initiated the stop after observing the Defendant once cross and twice touch the fog line marking the outer right lane boundary on an interstate highway.  After being pulled over, the Defendant was charged with alternative counts of driving under the influence.  The Defendant filed a motion to suppress, contending that the traffic stop was unconstitutional.  After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion to suppress.  The Defendant then pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and reserved a certified question of law regarding the legality of her traffic stop.  The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgment.  We hold that the traffic stop was supported by reasonable suspicion and therefore met constitutional requirements.  Accordingly, we affirm the Defendant’s judgment of conviction.  

Williamson County Supreme Court 02/11/16
David C. Jayne v. Bass Annie Cosmetic Boat Repair
W2015-02008-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/11/16
State of Tennessee v. William Whitlow Davis, Jr.
E2013-02073-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

We granted permission to appeal in this case to determine whether the traffic stop of the Defendant, William Whitlow Davis, Jr., violated the constitutional rights of the Defendant. The arresting officer initiated the stop after observing the Defendant cross the double yellow center lane lines with the two left wheels of the Defendant’s car. The Defendant subsequently was charged with driving under the influence and a traffic violation. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress, contending that the traffic stop was unconstitutional. After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion to suppress. The Defendant then pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and reserved a certified question of law regarding the legality of his traffic stop. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgment. We hold that the traffic stop was supported by probable cause. Therefore, we affirm the Defendant’s judgment of conviction.

Knox County Supreme Court 02/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Dwight David Foster
E2015-00409-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

Appellant, Dwight David Foster, pleaded guilty to possession of less than point five (.5) grams of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; simple possession of buprenorphrine, a Schedule III controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. He received the agreed-upon effective sentence of five years as a Range I, standard offender to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he certified a question for our review. Upon the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16