Court Opinions

Format: 10/31/2014
Format: 10/31/2014
Kevin Womack v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02288-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

On July 26, 2012, this court affirmed judgments regarding the petitioner, Kevin Womack, for possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of a firearm with intent to employ in the commission of a dangerous felony, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property over $500, and tampering with evidence, reducing the theft conviction from a Class E felony to a Class A misdemeanor. State v. Kevin Womack, No. W2011-01827-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3055773, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 26, 2012). No application for permission to appeal was filed. On August 8, 2013, he filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that he did not file a Rule 11 application because his trial counsel had filed a motion to withdraw, “informing the petitioner his application [for permission to appeal] must [be] filed by September 24, 2012.” He argued that his post-conviction petition was timely because it was filed within one year of this date. The State responded that the petition was untimely, and the post-conviction court agreed, dismissing the petition for this reason. On October 15, 2013, the petitioner filed his notice of appeal regarding that dismissal. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Charles Hall v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01438-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Charles Hall, was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced, as a repeat violent offender, to life imprisonment without parole. This court affirmed the judgment of the trial court on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied his application for permission to appeal. State v. Charles Hall, No. W2009-02569-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 5271082, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 10, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 12, 2011). Subsequently, he filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that trial counsel was deficient in pursuing pretrial motions and making erroneous trial decisions. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court determined both that the petitioner had failed to establish that trial counsel had been ineffective or that he had been prejudiced by counsel’s alleged misdeeds. Following our review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Lance Thomas Sandifer v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00723-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Petitioner, Lance Thomas Sandifer, was convicted of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape.  He was sentenced to an effective sentence of one-hundred and eight years in confinement.   Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentence, and this court affirmed the judgments of the trial court.  State v. Lance Sandifer, et al., No. M2008-02849-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Dec. 21, 2010) perm. app. denied (Tenn., May 26, 2011).  A detailed summary of the facts underlying Petitioner’s convictions can be found in that opinion.  Petitioner now appeals the trial court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective.  Having reviewed the record before us, we affirm the judgment of trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Terry D. Sanders v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00236-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge George Sexton

The Petitioner, Terry D. Sanders, appeals the Houston County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for two counts of the sale of less than 0.5 gram of cocaine and his effective thirty-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in denying a mistrial when the State’s confidential informant testified that the Petitioner was on community corrections, that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, and that he was denied a fair trial due to cumulative errors in the conviction proceedings.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
William L. Green v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02840-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, William L. Green, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred by denying him relief.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Reginald Maurice Adkins v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02481-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, Reginald Maurice Adkins, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 convictions for first degree murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery and his life-plus-twelve-years sentence.  The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred by denying him relief.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Conley R. Fair v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00406-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Petitioner, Conley R. Fair, appeals the Unicoi County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 1997 convictions for first degree murder and attempted first degree murder and his life-plus-thirty-five-years sentence. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by (1) denying him relief because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and (2) failing to make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding his claim that he was denied his right to confront witnesses. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Unicoi County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Jermaine Carlton Jordan v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02497-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Petitioner, Jermaine Carlton Jordan, pled guilty to one count of attempted first degree murder and one count of especially aggravated kidnapping in April 2007.  Six years later, he filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, claiming that he should be granted a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.  The coram nobis court summarily dismissed his petition as time-barred.  Petitioner appealed, arguing that due process considerations require tolling the statute of limitations.  Upon thorough review of the record, we determine that Petitioner has neither alleged the nature of the evidence nor when it was discovered sufficiently for us to determine whether it qualifies as a later-arising ground for relief.  Therefore, we hold that due process does not require tolling the statute of limitations.  We affirm the decision of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Reid Quarles
M2013-00117-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald P. Harris

Calvin Reid Quarles, Defendant, was convicted by a Williamson County Jury for theft of property valued over $500.  After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant perfected this appeal.  The following issues are presented for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in giving the jury charge partially before and partially after closing arguments; and (2) whether the trial court erred by issuing a supplemental jury instruction.  After a review of the applicable authorities and the record, we conclude that Defendant waived any challenge to the trial court’s completing the jury instructions after closing argument by acquiescing and by failing to raise the issue in a motion for new trial.  Further, we conclude that the trial court did not commit error in answering a question posed by the jury during deliberations.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Dandarius Woods
M2014-00194-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, Dandarius Woods, was charged with one count of aggravated rape and one count of rape.  He filed a motion to suppress a statement that he made to police, alleging that his statements were coerced by implied promises of leniency.  After a hearing, the trial court granted the motion, finding that Defendant’s statements were not voluntary.  The State sought an interlocutory appeal.  Upon thorough review of the record, we find that the detective did not imply that Defendant would be released or that Defendant would receive treatment in lieu of a jail sentence if he confessed to rape.  Therefore, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Robert Koscinski v. Hamilton County Tennessee, et al
E2014-00097-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jeffrey M. Atherton

This appeal arises from the termination of Robert Koscinski (“Koscinski”) from his employment as a corrections officer with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. Koscinski had been found to be unfit for duty based upon a psychological evaluation. Koscinski appealed his termination to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Civil Service Board “the Board”). The Board upheld Koscinski’s termination. Koscinski filed an application for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). After hearing arguments, the Trial Court entered an order denying Koscinski’s writ of certiorari. Koscinski timely appealed to this Court. We find and hold that the Board applied the correct legal standard, and that the Board’s factual findings were supported by substantial and material evidence. We affirm the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/31/14
Jackie D. Owens v. Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, et al
E2014-01766-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Neil Thomas, III

The judgment from which the pro se incarcerated appellant, Jackie D. Owens, seeks to appeal was entered on December 17, 2013. The Notice of Appeal was filed more than thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the December 17, 2013 judgment, even considering the date upon which it appears the appellant placed the Notice of Appeal in the mail for filing with the trial court clerk (August 26, 2014). See Tenn. R. App. P. 20(g). The appellee, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority, filed a motion to dismiss this appeal based upon the untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal. Because the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal and grant the motion to dismiss.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Allen Lester, Jr.
M2014-00225-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

Defendant, Robert Allen Lester, Jr., was indicted by the Dekalb County Grand Jury in fourteen separate cases for thirteen counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, one count of aggravated burglary, four counts of burglary, eleven counts of theft of property valued under $500, one count of theft of property valued over $500, and six counts of theft of property valued over $1,000.  Subsequently, Defendant entered into negotiated guilty pleas to eleven counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of burglary.  The plea agreement called for an effective sentence of eight years, the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court at a sentencing hearing.  At the hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve the sentence in incarceration.  He appeals, challenging the denial of an alternative sentence.  After our review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the judgment form in Case Number 2013-CR-127 should be corrected to reflect a conviction and sentence for burglary rather than auto burglary.  Further, the matter is remanded to the trial court to resolve inconsistencies between the plea provisions and the corresponding judgments in order to yield an effective eight-year sentence and to correct any other clerical errors which may exist.  We determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alternative sentence to Defendant due to his extensive criminal history, because measures less restrictive had been applied to Defendant in the past, and in order to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offenses.  Accordingly, the matter is affirmed in part and remanded in part.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Cesar O. Rodriguez v. Amanda Lily Rodriguez
M2013-02648-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

Mother and Father were married for eight years and had two children when they were divorced in 2012. The trial court divided the marital assets, named Father the primary residential parent, and ordered Father to pay child support to Mother. Father appealed the trial court’s judgment, contending the child support worksheet contains incorrect information and that he should not be required to pay child support because he is the primary residential parent. He also argued the trial court erred in awarding Mother a full half of retirement benefits he earned during the parties’ marriage because Mother left him for periods of time during the marriage. Father contends those periods of separation should not be counted as time the parties were “together.” The record contains no transcript of the proceedings or statement of evidence that we can review to determine whether the evidence presented preponderates against the trial court’s findings and judgment. However, we agree with Father that the child support worksheet includes an incorrect figure representing Mother’s average parenting time. We remand the case for the trial court to correct that number and determine whether the correction results in a different child support award. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
TWB Architects, Inc. v. The Braxton, LLC, et al.
M2013-02740-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Burch

This appeal arises from a suit to enforce a mechanic’s lien. An architectural firm entered into an agreement with the developer of a condominium project to provide architectural and design services. The agreement stated that the firm would be paid a fee of two percent of construction costs if the condominiums were constructed. Later, the architect signed a contract to receive a penthouse as “consideration of design fees owed” on the first contract. The condominiums were constructed according to the plans drawn by the architectural firm. The developer was unable to deed the penthouse to the architect because it was encumbered by a security interest. The architect was never compensated. The architect filed suit to enforce a mechanic’s lien for the amount he was owed under the first contract. The trial court held the second contract was a novation, completely extinguishing the rights and obligations under the first contract. Finding there was a lack of intent for the second contract to completely extinguish the first contract and any lien rights arising from it, we reverse the trial court. We also find the suit was timely filed under the terms of the contract and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings

Cheatham County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Brentwood Chase Community Association v. Triet Truong, et al.
M2014-01294-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle

This appeal involves an action by a homeowners association to enjoin alleged violations of the association’s declarations. The trial court adjudicated a portion of the alleged violations and directed the entry of a final judgment pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 54.02. We have determined that the trial court has not disposed of “one or more claims” within the meaning of Tenn.R.Civ.P.54.02,meaning all claims byor against that party,see Bayberry Associates v. Jones, 783 S.W.2d 553, 557 (Tenn 1990); therefore, we reverse the portion of the order directing the entry of a final judgment, dismiss this appeal without prejudice to any party subsequently pursuing an appeal as of right pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 3, and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Jason Garner v. State of Tennessee
W2012-01997-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr.

The petitioner, Jason Garner, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that counsel was ineffective for failing to properly investigate a defense of diminished capacity, asserting that his capacity was diminished due to his ingestion of an antibiotic medication. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
Pervis Tyrone Payne v. State of Tennessee-Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2013-01248-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter

For the reasons that follow, I would remand this matter for an evidentiary hearing in order to determine whether the Petitioner is intellectually disabled. To the extent the majority differs from this conclusion, I respectfully disagree.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
Pervis Tyrone Payne v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01248-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter

The Petitioner, Pervis Tyrone Payne, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his death sentence resulting from his 1988 convictions for first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he is entitled to coram nobis relief because he is intellectually disabled and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
State of Tennessee v. Dana Crumley
M2013-02502-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, Dana Crumley, appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s order denying her motion for a reduced sentence.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
Bonnie Ellen Pierre v. Edward Joseph Pierre
E2013-01864-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

In this post-divorce case, Edward Joseph Pierre (“Husband”) appeals the trial court’s decision refusing to grant him relief under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02. Husband argues that the trial court’s divorce judgment based upon irreconcilable differences should be set aside and the case reopened because the parties’ marital dissolution agreement (“MDA”), which was duly approved by the trial court and incorporated into the judgment, allegedly fails to equitably divide the marital estate. Husband voluntarily signed the MDA before a notary public but declined to read it before he signed it. Finding no grounds for Rule 60.02 relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Walter Allen Gault v. Jano Janoyan et al.
E2014-00218-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Michael W. Moyers

This case concerns a boundary line dispute. Walter Allen Gault (“Plaintiff”) sued Jano Janoyan and Pinnacle Bank (“Defendants”) seeking a declaratory judgment 1 that, by way of adverse possession, he is the rightful owner of a triangle-shaped piece of land, 41.59 feet at its base and approximately 302 feet on each of its two sides. The disputed area is within the deed boundaries of the property owned by Janoyan, the Plaintiff’s next door neighbor. (See attached exhibit.) The parties’ properties are in Forest View, a residential subdivision in Knoxville. Defendants filed an answer and a counterclaim for ejectment and quiet title to the property. Both parties moved for summary judgment. After a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment to the Defendants. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Carol Payne McKinnis v. Sandra Kim Hammons
E2013-02733-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John C. Rambo

Carol Payne McKinnis (“Seller”) brought suit against Sandra Kim Hammons (“Purchaser”) to enforce an oral contract for the sale of real property. Seller sought a judgment for the amount allegedly due under the parties’ agreement. Purchaser moved for summary judgment based on her contention that the action was barred by the Statute of Frauds as codified at Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-2-101(2012). The trial court granted the motion. We vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Sherry Harper v. Bradley County, Tennessee
E2014-00107-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lawrence H. Puckett

The issue presented on this appeal is whether a plaintiff who brings a health care liability action against a governmental entity under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“the GTLA”) is entitled to the 120-day extension of the statute of limitations provided by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c)(Supp. 2014) under the current version of the Health Care Liability Act (“the HCLA”). This inquiry focuses on the effect of the 2011 amendment to the HCLA that expressly includes “claims against the state or a political subdivision thereof” within the definition of “health care liability action.” Applying the principles set forth by the Supreme Court in Cunningham v. Williamson Cnty. Hosp. Dist., 405 S.W.3d 41 (Tenn. 2013), we hold that the 2011 amendment demonstrates a clear intent on the part of the General Assembly to allow the GTLA’s one-year statute of limitations to be extended by 120 days in cases where a plaintiff satisfies the requirements of the HCLA. We affirm the judgment of the trial court denying defendant Bradley County’s motion to dismiss.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Theodore James Nugent v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00014-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The petitioner, Theodore James Nugent, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his timely petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2012 guilty-pleaded convictions of domestic assault and aggravated stalking on the grounds that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were unknowing and involuntary.  Because the record supports the decision of the post-conviction court, we affirm that court’s order.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14