Court Opinions

Format: 03/27/2015
Format: 03/27/2015
State of Tennessee v. John D. Bailey
W2014-00705-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Lee Moore, Jr.

Appellant, John D. Bailey, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by failing to suppress his statement to the police and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Mechelle L. Montgomery
M2013-01149-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Gary R. Wade
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The defendant, who was indicted for driving under the influence and violating the open container law, moved to suppress all evidence discovered during the search of her car, which included an open container of alcohol and a small amount of marijuana. The trial court granted the motion to suppress, holding that one of the officers involved had unreasonably prolonged the investigatory stop. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. Because the officer had a reasonable basis for extending the stop by ten to fifteen minutes while awaiting a second officer and the duration of the detention did not exceed the proper parameters, we set aside the order of suppression and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

Williamson County Supreme Court 03/27/15
Frederick Moore v. Mike Parris, Warden
W2014-02128-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner, Frederick Moore, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court's denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, he asserts that his indictment is void and illegal and deprives the trial court of jurisdiction because the State illegally amended it and improperly obtained a superseding indictment. He further asserts that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because he was denied due process when he was not afforded a second preliminary hearing. Upon review, we affirm the the trial court's denial of the petition.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
Curtis Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01779-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Curtis Johnson, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he was illegally sentenced under the repealed Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1982 rather than the Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Jordan Alexander Rodrigues
M2014-01001-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

The Defendant-Appellant, Jordan Alexander Rodrigues, appeals the revocation of his probation by the Marshall County Circuit Court.  He previously entered a guilty plea to burglary for which he received a three-year suspended sentence.  In this appeal, he argues that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation and ordering a sentence of full confinement rather than imposing split confinement.  Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Dennie Louis Price, Jr.
W2014-01331-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, Dennie Louis Price, Jr., appeals the trial court's revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his sentence of twelve years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in revoking his probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
In Re Kailee M.G.
E2014-01602-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Daniel G. Boyd
The State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition in November of 2013 (“the Petition”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Kristen M.C. (“Mother”) to the minor child Kailee M.G. (“the Child”). After a trial the Juvenile Court for Sullivan County (“the Juvenile Court”) terminated Mother’s parental rights to the Child after finding that clear and convincing evidence had been proven of grounds to terminate for persistent conditions pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3) and that clear and convincing evidence had been proven that it was in the Child’s best interest for Mother’s parental rights to be terminated. Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to the Child to this Court. We find and hold that clear and convincing evidence was proven of grounds for termination pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3) and that clear and convincing evidence was proven that it was in the Child’s best interest for Mother’s parental rights to be terminated, and we affirm.
 
Sullivan County Court of Appeals 03/27/15
Charles Haynes v. Formac Stables, Inc.
W2013-00535-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Gary R. Wade
Trial Court Judge: Judge William B. Acree

The plaintiff asserted claims for retaliatory discharge pursuant to both the common law and the Tennessee Public Protection Act, alleging that the owner of the employer had engaged in illegal conduct and had terminated the plaintiff’s employment when he acted as a whistleblower by complaining of the conduct to the owner. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims because, according to his own allegations, he had not reported the illegal activity to anyone other than the person responsible for the activity. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We hold that an employee must report an employer’s wrongdoing to someone other than the wrongdoer to qualify as a whistleblower, which may require reporting to an outside entity when the wrongdoer is the manager, owner, or highest ranking officer within the company. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Obion County Supreme Court 03/27/15
Brian S. Roberson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02565-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The Petitioner, Brian S. Roberson, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Circuit Court for Williamson County.  He was convicted for the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine and sentenced to thirty years’ imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Eric Williams
W2013-01593-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey, Jr.

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Eric Williams, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by refusing to allow State witnesses to testify about his statements after the killing, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to use a shotgun for demonstrative purposes when the gun was not involved in the crime, and that the trial court erred by not using the “reasonable effort method” for the jury’s consideration of the charge. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court erred by prohibiting the appellant from crossexamining State witnesses about his stating after the shooting that he did not intend to shoot the victim, by allowing the State’s expert to testify about the trigger pull of double-barrel shotguns, and by allowing the jury to handle a shotgun that was not the murder weapon. Moreover, we conclude that the cumulative effect of the errors warrants reversal of the appellant’s conviction. Therefore, the conviction is reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Allen Cornelius Bond
W2014-00069-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The defendant, Allen Cornelius Bond, was convicted by a Madison County Criminal Court jury of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and attempted sexual battery, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to an effective term of sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction to be served consecutively to a prior sentence. On appeal, he argues that: (1) his right to an impartial jury was violated because one of the jurors knew him; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the nurse examiner to testify as an expert witness; and (4) the trial court erred in not exercising its authority as the thirteenth juror and setting aside his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
Karen Abrams Malkin v. Reed Lynn Malkin
W2014-00127-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans

This appeal involves an obligor’s petition to modify or terminate his alimony obligation due to his retirement. The trial court found that the obligor’s income had decreased to approximately one-third of his previous income level, so the trial court reduced the alimony payments by a corresponding percentage, to roughly one-third of the previous obligation. The recipient appeals. We hold that the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard when considering the petition to modify and also erred in its factual findings. Based on our review of the evidence, the obligor failed to demonstrate that modification of his alimony obligation was warranted. Consequently, we reverse the trial court’s decision, reinstate the previous alimony award, dismiss the petition for modification, and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Maxwell Monroe Hodge
E2014-01059-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.

Convicted of rape by a Sullivan County Criminal Court jury, the defendant, Maxwell Monroe Hodge, appeals and claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the definition of “sexual penetration” expressed in Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-501(7) is impermissibly vague relative to that subsection’s use of the terms “genital or anal openings.” Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Danielle McWherter
M2014-00974-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

Defendant, Jeremy McWherter, pled guilty in the Montgomery County Criminal Court to the offense of especially aggravated robbery. Defendant received a sentence of eight years to serve one year in confinement followed by seven years of probation. On March 26, 2014, a probation violation warrant was issued. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked probation and ordered Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence by incarceration. Defendant appeals, and does not challenge the revocation of probation, but argues that the trial court erred by ordering the entire sentence to be served by incarceration and not granting him a furlough to enter an alcohol rehabilitation program. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/15
Hershel Sanders et al v. First Tennessee Bank, N.A. et al.
E2014-00812-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars

This appeal concerns a dispute over which statute of limitations applies. Hershel and Alma Sanders (“Plaintiffs”) filed suit against First Tennessee Bank, National Association (“the Bank”) in the Circuit Court for Cumberland County (“the Trial Court”).1 Plaintiffs alleged that the Bank breached its contractual obligations to them by failing to provide long-term financing toward the building of their home as promised. The Bank denied it made any such promise. The Bank filed a motion for summary judgment. After a hearing, the Trial Court granted the Bank’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that the three-year statute of limitations for injury to property or interest in property barred Plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiffs appeal. We hold that the financial damages alleged by Plaintiffs are in the nature of breach of contract and, therefore, a six-year statute of limitations governs. We reverse the judgment of the Trial Court.

Cumberland County Court of Appeals 03/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Herron
W2012-01195-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

The defendant was charged with and convicted of rape of a child, and he received a twentyfive-year sentence. The defendant appealed, raising seven issues. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the trial court erred by(1) allowing the prosecution to introduce the child’s prior consistent statement, a recorded forensic interview, during its case-in-chief before the child’s credibility had been challenged; and (2) ruling that if the defendant chose to testify the prosecution would be permitted to ask him whether he had been previously arrested or convicted of an unnamed felony. Nevertheless, in a divided decision, two judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that these errors were neither individually nor cumulatively prejudicial. The dissenting judge opined that the second error alone was prejudicial and entitled the defendant to a new trial. We affirm the Court of Criminal Appeals’ conclusions that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction and that the election is sufficiently specific and definite. We hold that the cumulative effect of the two conceded trial errors is prejudicial and entitles the defendant to a new trial. Because of the remand for a new trial, we do not address the defendant’s other allegations of evidentiary errors. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed in part; the defendant’s conviction is vacated; and this matter is remanded to the trial court for a new trial, consistent with this decision.

Shelby County Supreme Court 03/26/15
Rhonda Potter et al. v. William Dale Perrigan, M.D. et al.
E2013-01442-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars
This is a medical malpractice action. Plaintiffs timely filed a complaint after properly sending pre-suit notices to Defendants. After voluntarily dismissing the initial complaint, Plaintiffs filed a second complaint pursuant to the saving statute with an attached certificate of good faith and a copy of the original pre-suit notices. Defendants moved to dismiss the second complaint for failure to comply with the notice requirements set out in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(a). The trial court agreed and dismissed the action. Plaintiffs appealed. We reversed the decision of the trial court. Defendants filed an application for permission to appeal. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the application and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of its opinion in Foster v. Chiles, No. E2012-01780-SC-R11-CV, 2015 WL 343872 (Tenn. Jan. 27, 2015). Upon remand, we affirm the decision of the trial court.
 
Cumberland County Court of Appeals 03/26/15
Crystal Miranda Kirby v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00679-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Crystal Miranda Kirby, appeals the denial of her petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that her judgment for first degree murder is void and illegal on its face because of the trial court’s merger of her second degree murder conviction into the first degree murder conviction after separate judgments had already been entered and the jury had been dismissed. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas court summarily denying the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/15
Trutonio Yancey v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00328-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Trutonio Yancey, was convicted of aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, carjacking, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and received an effective sentence of twenty years. On direct appeal, this court affirmed the petitioner’s aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping convictions but reversed the carjacking and firearm convictions and remanded for a new trial. The Tennessee Supreme Court denied application for permission to appeal. State v. Trutonio Yancey and Bernard McThune, No. W2011-01543-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 4057369, at (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 17, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 14, 2013). Subsequently, he filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Counsel was appointed and, following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition. Based upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/15
William C. Kerst, et al. v. Upper Cumberland Rental And Sales, LLC
M2014-00894-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ronald Thurman

This is a contract case arising from the sale of a business. Appellant orally agreed to sell his fastener business to the Appellee. After Appellant allegedly violated the terms of the sale agreement, Appellee stopped making payments. Appellant filed suit to recover the balance of the purchase price. The parties later agreed to rescission of the sale and to allow the trial court to decide the issue of rescissory damages. The trial court heard evidence regarding such damages and entered an order awarding Appellant $8,601.73 in damages, plus the remaining inventory of unused old fasteners. Appellant appeals. We affirm and remand.

Putnam County Court of Appeals 03/25/15
Sharon M. Smith v. Read Hauck, et al.
M2014-01383-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda Jane McClendon

The trial court granted Defendant/Appellee’s motion to dismiss based upon expiration of the applicable statute of limitations and made its judgment final pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02. Because we find that the trial court considered matters outside the pleadings in ruling on Defendant/Appellee’s motion to dismiss we converted it to a motion for summary judgment. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/25/15
Corey Alan Bennett v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00143-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The pro se appellant, Corey Alan Bennett, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. Because the record reflects that the appellant filed a subsequent petition for post-conviction relief, we affirm the order of the Knox County Criminal Court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/25/15
Corey Alan Bennett v. State of Tennessee
E2014-02097-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The pro se appellant, Corey Alan Bennett, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. Because the record reflects that the appellant filed a subsequent petition for post-conviction relief, we affirm the order of the Knox County Criminal Court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/25/15
Gary Wayne Bush v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00759-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Keith Siskin

The Petitioner, Gary Wayne Bush, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief.  He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to call the Petitioner to testify in his own defense.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/25/15
Billy L. Grooms v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01228-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ben W. Hooper, II

The petitioner, Billy L. Grooms, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus and/or motion to correct an illegal sentence. He argues that: (1) the indictment is void because it was returned without a juvenile petition for transfer, prior to transfer to the criminal court, and without the criminal court’s acceptance; (2) the indictment is void because it and the endorsements were not part of the record insofar as they were never spread upon the minutes of the trial court to become part of the record; (3) the indictment is void because it alleged only legal conclusions, did not provide adequate protections against double jeopardy, and did not enable the trial court to enter an appropriate judgment; and (4) his sentence is void in light of Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012). After a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 03/25/15