Court Opinions

Format: 08/18/2017
Format: 08/18/2017
Edward Keith Morelock v. Ruth Ellen Mick Morelock
E2016-00543-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John C. Rambo

In this divorce case, Edward Keith Morelock (Husband) appeals the trial court’s decisions regarding (1) co-parenting time with the parties’ child; (2) division of marital property, (3) valuation of one of the marital assets, and (4) refusal of the court to award him spousal support. Husband argues that the trial court should have designated him primary residential parent and granted him more residential time with the child. He also asserts that the trial court overvalued the business owned by the parties, and that the court should have equally divided the assets and liabilities of that business rather than awarding and assigning all of them to him. Finally, he argues that the trial court should have ordered Ruth Ellen Mick Morelock (Wife) to pay him alimony. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Washington County Court of Appeals 08/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Jabriel Linzy, Alias
E2016-01052-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Jabriel Linzy, alias, appeals as of right from his convictions for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The Defendant argues (1) that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions, and (2) that evidence from social media posts was improperly admitted. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/17
Mardoche Olivier v. City of Clarksville, et al.
M2016-02473-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

This action arises out of an alleged violation of the plaintiff’s civil rights by the City of Clarksville (“the City”) and a group of police officers employed by the City (“the Officers”) (collectively, “Defendants”). The plaintiff was arrested on June 1, 2015, for driving on a revoked or suspended license, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-50-504 (2012), and making a 911 telephone call in a nonemergency situation, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-86-316 (2015). The plaintiff filed a complaint on August 11, 2016, alleging that as a result of his arrest, the Officers caused him to suffer damages from false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, malicious harassment, outrageous conduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress, conversion, and inverse condemnation. The plaintiff also alleged violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on October 5, 2016, asserting, inter alia, that the plaintiff’s claims were statutorily barred due to the immunity granted to Defendants by the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”). See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-205 (2012). The trial court entered a final order regarding Defendants’ motion to dismiss on November 17, 2016, granting the motion and dismissing all claims. The plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 08/17/17
Sonja Broyles Williams v. Stewart Ashley Williams
W2016-01602-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry McKenzie

This is an appeal from a divorce case dissolving a long-term marriage with two minor children. Following a four and one-half day trial, the court awarded Wife a divorce, designated Husband as the primary residential parent of the parties’ children, distributed the marital property, awarded Wife rehabilitative alimony, and denied Wife’s request for attorney’s fees. Wife appeals the designation of Husband as primary residential parent, the value and division of certain items within the marital estate, the court’s decision to award her rehabilitative alimony rather than alimony in futuro, and the denial of her request for attorney’s fees. We vacate the trial court’s order regarding retroactive child support and remand the issue for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We affirm the remainder of the judgment of the trial court. We deny Wife’s request for attorney’s fees incurred on appeal.

Hardin County Court of Appeals 08/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Banks
W2016-01085-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Calvin Banks, of first degree premeditated murder and the trial court imposed a sentence of life. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence supporting his conviction is insufficient because the State failed to establish premeditation. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
Sebastian Pegues v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02489-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Sebastian Pegues, of two counts of first degree felony murder, one count of aggravated child abuse, and one count of aggravated child neglect, and the trial court sentenced him to life plus twenty years of incarceration. This court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentence on appeal. State v. Sebastian Pegues, No. W2014-00854-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 3404736, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, May 27, 2015), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel ineffectively cross-examined the medical examiner. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
In Re David P. Et Al.
E2017-00245-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert M. Estep

This is an appeal from an order terminating the parental rights of the appellant to his minor children. The only Notice of Appeal filed by the appellant within the time provided in Rule 4(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure for the filing of a notice of appeal, did not comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-124(d), which states: “Any notice of appeal filed in a termination of parental rights action shall be signed by the appellant.” Because this Notice of Appeal was insufficient to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court, this appeal is dismissed.

Claiborne County Court of Appeals 08/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Donald Ragland
W2017-00464-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Donald Ragland, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct a clerical error pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36. The Defendant has failed to present an appropriate argument under Rule 36; therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Mark L. Watson
M2016-02392-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

A Stewart County jury convicted the Defendant, Mark L. Watson, of vandalism of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two years on probation. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Stewart County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Dean Sexton
E2016-01296-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

Defendant, Michael Dean Sexton, was convicted of one count of theft over $10,000 and one count of vandalism over $10,000. He received concurrent sentences of nine years for each count to be served on supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant raises the following issues: (1) Whether the trial court properly discharged a juror (Defendant’s Issues I and II); (2) Whether the State was required to make an election of offenses and whether the trial court properly declined to issue a jury instruction (Defendant’s Issues III and IV); and (3) Whether the trial court erred by permitting the name of the co-defendant to be redacted from the indictment and whether the trial court refused to allow Defendant to introduce a copy of the unredacted indictment into evidence. (Defendant’s Issues V and VI). After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
Carl Bond v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00691-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Carl Bond, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of one count of aggravated robbery. Over a year after this Court affirmed his conviction, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The trial court subsequently denied the petition on its merits. Following our review of the record and pertinent authorities, we conclude the petition was untimely, and this Court is without jurisdiction to consider this appeal. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/16/17
Jason Ray v. Madison County, Tennessee
M2016-01577-SC-R23-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Daniel Breen

We accepted certification of questions of law from the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, which require us to determine: (1) whether, for split confinement sentences, Tennessee law authorizes a sentencing court to fix a percentage of the sentence that a defendant must serve in actual confinement before becoming eligible to participate in a work program in the local jail or workhouse; and (2) whether Tennessee law imposes a duty on a sheriff to challenge an inmate’s improper or potentially improper sentence. We conclude (1) that for split confinement sentences Tennessee trial judges are authorized to fix a percentage the defendant must serve in actual confinement before becoming eligible to earn work credits; and (2) that sheriffs in Tennessee have no duty to challenge an inmate’s sentence as improper or potentially improper.

Supreme Court 08/16/17
Latisia Upshaw v. Sunrise Community Of Tennessee, Inc.
E2016-01005-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

This appeal concerns a claim of retaliatory discharge. After a trial before a jury, judgment was entered against the defendant employer. The plaintiff was awarded $225,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages. The employer appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 08/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Kristie Louis McLerran
M2016-02005-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Defendant, Kristie Louise McLerran, entered a plea of nolo contendere to attempted aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony, as a Range I, standard offender and to serve an eight-year term with manner of service to be determined by the trial court. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a term of incarceration, finding that confinement was necessary to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense. The Defendant appeals the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. We conclude that the trial court did not err in sentencing the Defendant to a term of imprisonment. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/16/17
In Re Estate of Charles Edward Fant, III
W2016-02498-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Karen D. Webster

This is a will contest. The affidavit attached to the purported will was signed, in the presence of the testator, by two witnesses. At the hearing on the will contest, both witnesses and the notary public testified as to the validity of signatures on the purported will. The trial court held that the will and accompanying affidavit were not in strict compliance with the statute and denied admission of the will to probate. On appeal, the proponent of the purported will argues that the will satisfied the recent statutory requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 32-1-104(b) such that the signatures of both witnesses were integrated into the will. Concluding that the witnesses’ signatures were integrated into the will pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 32-1-104(b), and that the other statutory requirements were met, we reverse the trial court’s ruling.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/15/17
Sue Ann Templeton v. Jackson-Madison County General Hospital District
W2016-02419-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

This is an appeal from the grant of summary judgment in a Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”) premises liability case. Appellant was exiting Jackson-Madison County General Hospital/Appellee when she was hit by an automatic door, fell, and sustained a broken femur. Appellee moved for summary judgment on the ground that it was immune from suit under the GTLA. Appellant argued that Appellee failed to make a reasonable inspection of the automatic door, so as to discover the alleged dangerous or defective condition. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee, finding that the condition was not dangerous or defective, the condition was latent, and Appellee had no actual or constructive notice of the condition. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Madison County Court of Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Atlanta Pearl Hardy
M2017-00537-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt

Defendant, Atlanta Pearl Hardy, was convicted of second degree murder in 2004 and now appeals the trial court's denial of her motion to correct an illegal sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Upon review of the record, this Court affirms the trial court's denial of relief under Rule 36.1.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Marquis Devann Churchwell
M2016-02218-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Defendant, Marquis Devann Churchwell, pled guilty to one count of robbery and two counts of assault with the sentence to be determined by the trial court. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of eight years, eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing a sentence of confinement. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case for entry of judgment forms for each count of the indictment in case number 2015-D-2352.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Deangelo Lee
W2016-02208-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The Defendant, Marcus Deangelo Lee, pleaded guilty in 1997 to escape from felony incarceration, and the trial court sentenced him to one year and ordered that his sentence run consecutively to a three-year sentence the Defendant received for drug-related and firearm convictions in 1995. Since that time, the Defendant has been arrested and convicted on other charges unrelated to this case. Almost seventeen years later, the Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 with regard to jail credits for his 1997 felony escape conviction. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, and the Defendant appeals. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred when it summarily dismissed his motion because the trial court improperly amended his judgment to reflect 103 days of jail credit, which he argues resulted in his sentences running concurrently rather than consecutively as mandated by statute. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Mario Bowles
W2016-00496-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Defendant, Mario Bowles, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of two counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twenty-three years at one-hundred percent for each count of aggravated rape, which the trial court merged, and twenty-three years at one-hundred percent for aggravated kidnapping. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with one another and consecutively with an unrelated case. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated rape and that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of attempted aggravated rape. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Montreal Lyons
W2016-00929-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Defendant, Montreal Lyons, appeals from the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Defendant contends that his sentence is illegal because the trial court imposed the sentence for offenses that occurred in 2002 under the 2005 amendments to the sentencing act without an ex post facto waiver signed by Defendant. The State responds that the trial court properly dismissed Defendant’s motion because he failed to state a colorable claim for relief. We agree with the State. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Harris
W2016-01964-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Defendant, Michael Harris, appeals from an order of the trial court denying his petition to suspend the remainder of his sentence. Following our review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not err by denying the petition. We affirm the order of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Lashawn Blackman
M2016-01828-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell
The Defendant, Demarcus Lashawn Blackman, was convicted by a Marshall County Circuit Court jury of aggravated criminal trespass and evading arrest, Class A misdemeanors. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-406 (2014) (aggravated criminal trespass), 39-16-603 (2014) (amended 2016) (evading arrest). The trial court sentenced him to consecutive terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days for each conviction and ordered the sentence to be served consecutively to an unrelated twelve-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
Tut Mayal Tut v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01673-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn
Petitioner, Tut Mayal Tut, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his guilty-pleaded convictions for two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and four counts of aggravated rape.  Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during both the juvenile court transfer hearing and the criminal court plea proceedings. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
 
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
In Re Nevaeh B. - Dissent
W2016-01769-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Van McMahan

The majority opinion dismisses this appeal due to the failure of the appellant, Makayla B., the child’s mother, to sign the notice of appeal as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-124(d). The majority has concluded, “[i]n the absence of full compliance with the statutory requirements, this Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the appeal.” I recognize that the majority opinion is based on a prior Court of Appeals decision, but I respectfully disagree with the decision and the notion that Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-124(d) is jurisdictional or that the statute compels this court to dismiss appeals in parental termination cases when the parent fails to sign the notice of appeal without affording the parent the opportunity to cure the defect.

Chester County Court of Appeals 08/14/17