Court Opinions

Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014
In the Matter of Ryan K.M., et al.
W2013-02201-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Mother’s parental rights to her three sons were terminated after she pled guilty to the second degree murder of a fourth son. On appeal, Mother concedes that termination grounds were proven by clear and convincing evidence; she challenges only the trial court’s finding that termination of her parental rights is in the children’s best interest. We affirm the trial court’s best interest finding, and thus, its termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Chester County Court of Appeals 04/23/14
Ramsey Harris v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01770-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carroll L. Ross

Petitioner, Ramsey Harris, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, false reporting to a law enforcement officer, and two counts of felony theft of property. He received an effective sentence of twenty years as a Range III offender. As part of the plea agreement, several other charges were dismissed. In his post-conviction proceedings, petitioner asserts that numerous errors with respect to trial counsel’s advice to him regarding the guilty plea to false reporting amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/23/14
Kathy Austin, et al v. Jacob Wilds, Jr., et al
E2013-01310-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

Kathy Austin, Vickie Shipley, and Sherry Foshie (“Plaintiffs”) sued their brothers, Jacob Wilds, Jr. and James Wilds (“Defendants”), seeking to have certain deeds from their mother set aside due to alleged undue influence and/or duress. After a bench trial, the Chancery Court for Greene County (“Trial Court”) entered its order rendering judgment in favor of Defendants after finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiffs had failed to prove the existence of a confidential relationship necessary to show that the subject deeds were procured through undue influence. Plaintiffs appeal. We find and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the Trial Court’s findings, and we affirm.

Greene County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
State of Tennessee v. Jessica Root
E2013-01690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

The Defendant, Jessica Root, appeals the trial court’s nine-year sentence to her open plea of guilt to vehicular homicide by intoxication, contending (1) that the trial court failed to consider applicable mitigating factors and a sentencing practices report; (2) that she should have received the minimum sentence; and (3) that the trial court improperly denied all forms of alternative sentencing. Upon consideration of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/22/14
State of Tennessee v. Danny Adams
E2013-01236-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carroll L. Ross

The Defendant, Danny Adams, was convicted by a jury of simple assault. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for that conviction, including an argument therein of inconsistent verdicts. We have thoroughly reviewed the record on appeal, and although the evidence is sufficient, we must reverse the Defendant’s conviction because an incorrect mental state was included in the jury charge. Moreover, we cannot deem the error harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/22/14
Rashe Moore v. State of Tennessee-Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2013-00674-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs

I concur with the majority opinion except for one issue. I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion that the failure to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of aggravated kidnapping constitutes reversible error in this post-conviction case. Such a failure to charge a lesser-included offense is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt when no reasonable jury would have convicted the petitioner of the lesser-included offense. State v. Banks, 271 S.W.3d 90, 126 (Tenn. 2008).

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/22/14
Rashe Moore v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00674-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs

In this post-conviction appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial because trial counsel was deficient in failing to file a written motion requesting jury instructions on lesser-included offenses and that this failure resulted in prejudice because it precluded appellate review of the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on any lesser-included offenses. After a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court with respect to trial counsel’s failure to file a written motion requesting an instruction on lesser-included offenses of especially aggravated kidnapping. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/22/14
Mindy Dodd v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02385-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The petitioner, Mindy S. Dodd, appeals the denial of her petition for a writ of error coram nobis. On appeal, she contends that she presented newly discovered evidence that may have affected the outcome of her trial and that the error coram nobis court erred in denying her petition. Because the petition was not filed within the statutory limitations period, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/22/14
State of Tennessee v. Keenan D. Singletary
M2013-01098-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

Keenan D. Singletary (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to facilitation of aggravated robbery. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to five years’ incarceration and ordered the Defendant to pay $174 in restitution. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the length and manner of service of his sentence. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/22/14
Melinda Jan Metzinger v. Ronald Wayne Metzinger
W2013-02220-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tony Childress

This appeal involves the classification and division of Husband’s $66,000.00 personal injury settlement in a divorce proceeding. The trial court classified the settlement as marital property, it deducted $13,400.00 for what it found to be “legitimate expense[s] of the marriage” paid by Husband, and it awarded Wife one-half of the balance, or $26,300.00. We reverse the trial court’s award to Wife.

Dyer County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Norma Simpson, Ind. and next of kin of J. W. Simpson v. Faye Fowler
W2013-02109-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Michael Maloan

This is the second appeal of this case, involving the application of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 31-1-105 to set aside certain transfers by decedent to his long-term companion, which transfers were allegedly made with intent to deny his surviving spouse of her share of his estate. From the totality of the circumstances, and applying the factors outlined by this Court in Finley v. Finley, 726 S.W.2d 923 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1986), we conclude that the evidence preponderates in favor of the trial court’s award of $8,500.00 in insurance proceeds to the surviving spouse for decedent’s funeral costs, but that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s award of a $28,000.00 bank account to the surviving spouse. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Obion County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Carroll Marie Stovall, et al. v. UHS of Lakeside, LLC, et al.
W2013-01504-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge John R. McCarroll, Jr.

Appellant medical providers appeal the trial court’s denial of their motions to dismiss a medical malpractice complaint for failure to strictly comply with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-122(d)(4). Because we conclude that the trial court had good cause to grant an extension, within which to file a certificate of good faith, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Michael James Little, Jr. v. Rhonda G. Little
M2013-00983-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

The trial court determined that no material and substantial change in circumstance had occurred and denied Father’s petition to modify the parties’ parenting plan. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/21/14