Court Opinions

Format: 04/27/2017
Format: 04/27/2017
Delta Gypsum, LLC v. Michael Felgemacher
E2016-01447-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge E.G. Moody

A supplier of drywall was a creditor of a company that installed drywall. The owner of the indebted company signed a promissory note in the amount of $370,615 payable to the supplier and paid a small portion of the note before selling the business to his son for $12,000. The supplier filed suit to obtain a judgment for the balance owed on the promissory note after the transfer of the business to the son. The supplier obtained a judgment against the former owner, but not against the company, for the amount owed on the note. The supplier then filed this action against the son in an effort to have the sale set aside on the basis that it was a fraudulent conveyance. The trial court found the supplier was unable to satisfy the elements of either the actual fraud statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-3-305(a)(1), or the constructive fraud statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-3-306(a). We agree and affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 04/26/17
James Swanger v. Carrie Lowery
M2016-00600-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

In this appeal of the extension of an order of protection for five years, the appellant contends that the appellee did not prove an allegation of domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault by a preponderance of the evidence. Upon our review, we conclude that the evidence supports the finding that the initial order of protection was violated and that the court had the authority to extend the order; accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.   

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/26/17
Joe Travis Northern v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01058-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Joe Travis Northern, Jr. (“Petitioner”) appeals from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief. Petitioner claims that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel and of counsel appointed to represent him in a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Joseph L. Smith
W2016-01229-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

Joseph L. Smith (“the Defendant”) was convicted of attempted arson under a theory of criminal responsibility and received a three-year sentence; he was ordered to serve one year in the workhouse and the remainder of the sentence on community corrections. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in its denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal and his motion for new trial because the testimony of the accomplices was not sufficiently corroborated by independent evidence. The Defendant also contends that the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty of attempted arson beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court should not have instructed the jury on the offense of attempted arson. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Henry County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/17
James Britt v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00928-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Petitioner, James Britt, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his premeditated first degree murder conviction, alleging he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/17
Suzanne Bishop West v. Epiphany Salon & Day Spa, LLC
E2016-01860-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Marie Williams

This appeal concerns a jury award of damages in a negligence case. Suzanne Bishop West (“West”) sued Epiphany Salon & Day Spa, LLC (“Epiphany”) in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”) for damages resulting from a facial she received that burned her face. Epiphany conceded liability and the matter went before a jury for a determination of damages. The jury awarded West $125,000 in damages. Epiphany filed a motion for remittitur. The Trial Court, finding the award excessive, reduced the award from $125,000 to $47,800. West appeals to this Court, asking that we restore the original jury award of $125,000. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 04/25/17
David Andrew Oliver v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02244-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, David Andrew Oliver, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his rape of a child conviction and twenty-five year prison sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel, arguing that trial counsel should have advised him to testify at trial. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Mark Oden Potts
M2016-02079-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

Defendant, Mark Oden Potts, pled guilty to various drug-related offenses.  He received an effective sentence of eight years as a standard offender.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court abused its discretion by denying an alternative sentence of probation or community corrections.  After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/17
Volodymyr Helyukh, et al. v. Buddy Head Livestock & Trucking, Inc., et al.
W2015-01354-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The plaintiffs appeal the grant of summary judgment in a negligence case. One of the plaintiffs, a truck driver, suffered injuries stemming from a collision with another tractor-trailer owned by the defendant and operated by its employee. The plaintiffs claimed that the employee's negligence proximately caused the accident. The owner of the overturned tractor-trailer moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiffs could not establish that its employee‟s conduct fell below the applicable standard of care. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue, among other things, that owner of the overturned tractor-trailed failed to meet its burden of production in moving for summary judgment. Because we conclude that the movant failed to demonstrate the absence of material facts that would create genuine issues for trial, we reverse the grant of summary judgment.

Henderson County Court of Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Thomas R. Davis
E2016-01622-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Thomas R. Davis, of simple possession of a controlled substance; simple possession of a controlled substance, third offense; and misdemeanor evading arrest. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days each for simple possession of a controlled substance and evading arrest and one year for simple possession of a controlled substance, third offense. The trial court merged the drug convictions and ordered the Defendant to serve his sentences concurrently, for an effective sentence of one year. On appeal, the Defendant contends that due to an amendment to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-418(e) that went into effect prior to the sentencing hearing, he did not qualify for enhanced punishment for simple possession of a controlled substance based on prior convictions. We conclude that the amendment to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-418(e) controls and that, as a result, the Defendant did not qualify for enhancement punishment for his simple possession conviction based on his prior convictions. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are reversed in part and affirmed in part. The Defendant’s conviction for simple possession of a controlled substance as a Class E felony as reflected in the judgment for count 12 is dismissed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment reflecting the $2,500 fine imposed by the jury in count 11 and for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
Josh L. Bowman v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01028-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, Josh L. Bowman, was convicted by a jury of three counts of first degree felony murder, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. After the verdict, the Petitioner pled guilty to one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony when he had previously been convicted of a felony. The trial court merged the murder convictions, merged the burglary convictions, and merged the firearms convictions. This court on appeal reversed the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction and remanded for a new trial, affirming all other judgments. See State v. Josh L. Bowman, No. E2012-00923-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 4680402, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 29, 2013), overruled in part by State v. Teats, 468 S.W.3d 495 (Tenn. 2015). The Petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, alleging that his trial counsel was deficient in allowing him to enter a guilty plea to the firearms offense and deficient in failing to object to the racial composition of the jury venire. The post-conviction court granted relief on the firearms conviction, finding that the Petitioner did not have a qualifying prior “dangerous felony” and dismissing the charge. The post-conviction court found that the Petitioner could not show deficiency or prejudice on the jury issue. Both parties filed notices of appeal in this court. The State asserts that the postconviction court misinterpreted Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324 (2008) in granting relief and argues that the prior felony need not be a dangerous felony according to statute. The Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to relief from all his convictions based on the jury composition. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment. We remand for the post-conviction court to enter judgment on the merged conviction which survives the dismissal of the firearms offense.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Justin Ray Lane
E2016-01756-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

A Sullivan County jury convicted the defendant, Justin Ray Lane, of four separate felony offenses for his participation in a controlled drug buy of heroin and cocaine within one thousand feet of a school. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions arguing the State failed to prove he authored the text messages which established the details of the illegal transaction. Additionally, and for the same reason, the defendant argues photographs of the text messages establishing the drug deal were not properly authenticated at trial. Finally, the defendant contends the trial court prejudiced the jury by including the preamble to the Drug-Free School Zone Act in its charge. After reviewing the record, submissions of the parties, and pertinent authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
Trina A. Henson v. Chris Robert Henson
M2016-01661-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

This is an appeal from a final decree of divorce. The trial court declared the parties divorced, divided the marital property and marital debt, and ordered Husband to pay rehabilitative alimony of $2,500.00 per month for three years, and an award of $20,000.00 for attorney’s fees, as alimony in solido. On appeal, Husband contends that the trial court erred in: (1) its division of the marital debt; (2) its award of rehabilitative alimony; and (3) its award of attorney’s fees. Wife requests attorney’s fees incurred in defending this appeal. We affirm the trial court’s judgment and remand for determination of Wife’s attorney’s fees on appeal.

Robertson County Court of Appeals 04/24/17
M.H.L. ET AL. v. BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF GREATER KINGSPORT, INC., ET AL.
E2017-00024-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge John S. McLellan, III

The plaintiffs, Michael Lambert and Pamela Lambert, on behalf of themselves and their minor child, M.H.L. (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), seek to appeal from an order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant, City of Kingsport, Tennessee (“the City”), on Plaintiffs’ claims against the City in this negligence case arising out of injuries sustained by the minor plaintiff while participating in a youth basketball program. In their complaint, Plaintiffs asserted claims against not only the City, the entity who ran the youth basketball program, but also against the defendant, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, Inc. (“the Boys and Girls Club”), which owned and managed the property used by the youth basketball program. The order from which Plaintiffs seek to appeal resolves only the claim against the City, leaving unresolved the claim against the Boys and Girls Club. As a result, we lack jurisdiction to consider this appeal. The appeal is dismissed without prejudice to the filing of a new appeal once a final judgment has been entered

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Maurice Marlin
M2016-01376-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

The Defendant, Gregory Maurice Marlin, was convicted of evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle, evading arrest on foot, and operating a motor vehicle while declared a habitual traffic offender.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a standard offender to two years for the evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle conviction, eleven months and twenty-nine days for the evading arrest on foot conviction, and two years for the operating a motor vehicle while declared a habitual offender conviction, all to be served consecutively to each other.  After the sentencing hearing, the trial court amended the sentence and merged the evading arrest on foot conviction with the evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle conviction, for an effective sentence of four years in prison.  The Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Johnathan Robert Leonard
M2016-00269-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

Johnathan Robert Leonard (“the Defendant”) appeals his Marshall County convictions for three counts of rape of a child, two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of aggravated sexual battery, for which he received an effective sentence of ninety-six years.  The Defendant asserts that he was denied due process and a fair trial based on numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct and that the cumulative effect of “irregularities” during voir dire and jury selection resulted in structural constitutional error, necessitating a new trial.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Allen Mills, Jr.
E2016-01118-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The pro se defendant, Maurice Allen Mills, Jr., appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 (“Rule 36.1”) motion to correct an illegal sentence. The defendant contends his motion stated a colorable claim for relief, so the trial court erred in summarily denying it. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
Roderick McAlpin v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01482-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The petitioner, Roderick McAlpin, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
Brunswick L. Robinson v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02429-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The pro se petitioner, Brunswick L. Robinson, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Johnson County Criminal Court, arguing the trial court erred in summarily dismissing the petition as his sentence has expired. After our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
State of Tennessee v. David G. Jenkins
M2016-00270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Defendant, David G. Jenkins, appeals his conviction of first degree premeditated murder for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in admitting post-mortem photographs of the victim; (3) the trial court improperly commented on the evidence in front of the jury; (4) the trial court erred in limiting defense counsel’s cross-examination of a witness; (5) the trial court erred in its rulings on various hearsay evidence; (6) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s request to give his own closing argument to the jury; and (7) reversal is warranted due to the cumulative effect of the errors.  Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
David Turner, et al. v. Karl Kendrick, et al. v. Danny Anderson, et al
M2016-00884-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

This appeal arises from the dismissal of a third-party complaint, which was filed two years after the third-party plaintiffs filed its answer to the original complaint. The trial court found that the third-party plaintiffs failed to seek leave of the court to join the third-party defendants as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 14.01. The trial court also determined that the third-party plaintiffs failed to state a claim which would support the trial court granting leave to file a third-party complaint, and, accordingly, dismissed the Appellants’ third-party complaint. The third-party plaintiffs appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.  

Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/21/17
Myron Lorenzo Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01361-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Myron Lorenzo Johnson, of first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  The trial court merged the convictions for first degree premeditated murder and felony murder and ordered an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus sixty years.  On appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court’s judgments.  See State v. Myron Lorenzo Johnson, No. M2008-02198-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 521028, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 12, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2010).  The Petitioner then filed a post-conviction petition in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
DONALD RAY BROWN v. ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY
E2016-00237-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: JUDGE ROBERT E. LEE DAVIES, SR.
Trial Court Judge: CHANCELLOR TELFORD E. FORGETY

Donald Brown (“Employee”) filed this action, alleging that he sustained a compensable heart attack while working for Grand Eagle Company (“Employer”).[1]  After a hearing on the merits, the trial court found that Employee had failed to satisfy his burden of proof that the heart attack was caused by an acute, immediate, stressful event.  Judgment was entered for Employer.  Employee timely filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court, and the appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51.  We affirm the judgment.



[1]Grand Eagle Company went out of business before the trial.  Therefore, suit was brought against its insurer, Zurich American Insurance Company, in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-102(11) (1999).

Sevier County Workers Compensation Panel 04/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Darryl Wilkins Burton
M2016-00690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The Defendant-Appellant, Darryl Wilkins Burton, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI) in exchange for a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served on probation after the service of forty-eight hours in the Williamson County jail.  The Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the denial of his motion to suppress, which was based upon an unconstitutional seizure.  Because the Defendant failed to properly reserve the certified question, we dismiss the appeal.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/17
State of Tennessee v. Teena Marie Bright
M2016-01873-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Defendant, Teena Marie Bright, pleaded guilty to possession of .5 gram or more of a methamphetamine with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver.  Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eight years as a Range I, standard offender.  The sentence was suspended to supervised probation after 158 days in confinement.  A violation of probation warrant was subsequently issued, and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered service of the balance of the sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals the trial court’s order that she serve her sentence in confinement.  We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/17