Court Opinions

Format: 12/10/2019
Format: 12/10/2019
C & C North America Inc. d/b/a Consentino v. Natural Stone Distributors LLC et al
W2019-00030-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

Appellant appeals the trial court’s order quashing its attachment and garnishments, whereby Appellant sought payment of its judgment from interpleaded funds that were owed to Appellee. Affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/10/19
Jennifer Erdman v. Mark Erdman
M2018-01668-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Golden
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson
This is a divorce case. For most of the parties’ marriage, the wife was a homemaker and the husband worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative. After husband was granted a divorce, the wife filed an appeal with this Court raising several issues for our review.  Among other things, the wife takes issue with the trial court’s classification and division of property and its decision to deny her alimony. For the reasons stated herein, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for such further proceedings as are necessary and consistent with this Opinion.
 
Williamson County Court of Appeals 12/10/19
Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB v. United States Department Of Justice, Et Al.
E2018-01250-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nichole Cantrell

Plaintiff Wilmington Savings Fund Society brought this action for foreclosure on property owned by defendants Reginald Hall and Rhonda Hall, requesting that the trial court declare its debt from a loan secured by deed of trust to have priority over debts allegedly owed by the Halls to other named defendants. The trial court granted plaintiff summary judgment and Reginald Hall appealed. Plaintiff argues on appeal that the trial court’s judgment was not final and therefore this Court does not have jurisdiction. We hold that the trial court did not adjudicate all of the claims raised by the parties. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed for lack of a final judgment.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 12/10/19
Loring Justice v. Kim Nelson Et Al.
E2018-02020-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

Loring Justice and Kim Nelson are the divorced parents of a minor child. They have been in litigation over the child since 2004. This appeal arises from a lawsuit filed by Mr. Justice (plaintiff) against Ms. Nelson, Robert Bodine, and two unidentified coconspirators (defendants). In his original complaint, plaintiff alleged that defendants were liable for: conspiracy to commit the crime of extortion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and tortious interference with parental rights. Defendants filed motions to dismiss, which the trial court granted. Exactly thirty days later, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. He alleged additional facts and new causes of action, including: fraud, coercion, attempted tortious interference with parental rights, and violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. Defendants filed a “response” to the amended complaint. They argued that the court should deny plaintiff leave to amend his original complaint. The court treated defendants’ “response” as a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, which the court then granted. We hold that the court erred when it treated defendants’ “response” as a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. We also hold that the court failed to provide adequate justification for dismissing the amended complaint sua sponte. Accordingly, we vacate the order of dismissal and remand for further proceedings.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 12/10/19
Jennifer Moore-Pitts Et Al. v. Carl A. Bradley, DDA, MAGD
E2018-01729-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis

This appeal concerns a healthcare liability action filed by Jennifer Moore-Pitts and David Pitts ("Plaintiffs") in the Knox County Circuit Court ("Trial Court") against Carl A. Bradley, DDS, MAGD ("Defendant"). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' action on the basis of noncompliance with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26- 121(a)(2)(E), which requires that pre-suit notice include a HIPAA-compliant medical authorization allowing the healthcare provider receiving the notice to obtain complete medical records from every other provider that is sent a notice.' Approximately forty healthcare providers, including Defendant, received pre-suit notice from Plaintiffs. On the medical authorization provided to Defendant, Plaintiffs left blank the name of the individual or entity authorized to make the disclosure of medical records to Defendant but provided an attachment of the names and addresses of the other providers receiving notice. The Trial Court found that Plaintiffs' medical authorization provided to Defendant was not sufficient to allow Defendant to obtain Ms. Moore-Pitts' s medical records from the other providers who received the pre-suit notice. As such, the Trial Court found that Plaintiffs could not rely on Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(c) to extend the statute of limitations for 120 days. Because Plaintiffs' action was filed one year and 118 days after the cause of action accrued, the Trial Court determined that Plaintiffs' action was untimely. The Trial Court, therefore, granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Brijesh Mukesh Desai
M2018-01810-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

After a trial, a Davidson County jury found Defendant, Brijesh Mukesh Desai, guilty of theft of services valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range I standard offender to four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction with a release eligibility of thirty percent. On appeal, Defendant argues that his conviction violates his constitutional right not to be imprisoned for a civil debt, that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, that the indictment was fatally flawed, and that the trial court improperly admitted evidence at trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Blake Hart
W2018-02123-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

A Henderson County jury convicted the Defendant, Jonathan Blake Hart, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court sentenced him to fifty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it: (1) barred his father from testifying; (2) denied his motion to exclude the medical expert’s conclusion that child sexual abuse had occurred; (3) admitted drawings from the forensic interview; and (4) limited his cross-examination of an investigator. The Defendant also contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that his motion for new trial should have been granted on these same grounds. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/19
Roger Joiner v. United Parcel Services, Inc., Et Al.
M2018-01876-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joshua Davis Baker

Roger Joiner (“Employee”) sustained an injury to his neck while lifting a mailbag in the course of his employment with United Parcel Service, Inc. (“Employer”) on February 26, 2016. Employer provided medical benefits, but subsequently limited those benefits to treatment of the injury at the C6-7 level of Employee’s cervical spine.  Employer refused to authorize treatment and denied benefits for injury at the C5-6 level of Employee’s cervical spine based on the opinion of his treating physician.  After a compensation hearing, the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (the “trial court”) concluded that the causation opinion of Employee’s medical evaluator overcame the statutory presumption afforded the causation opinion of his treating physician. The trial court determined that Employee was entitled to medical benefits for treatment of his injures at the C5-6 and C6-7 levels and to permanent partial disability benefits based on medical impairment attributable to both levels.  Employer appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, which reversed the trial court’s decision, with one judge concurring in part and dissenting in part.   Employee has appealed that ruling.  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 reverse the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Workers Compensation Panel 12/06/19
State of Tennessee v. Becky Jo Burlison
M2019-00148-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

In June 2015, a Davidson County Criminal Court jury convicted the Defendant, Becky Jo Burlison, of two counts of aggravated rape of a child, one count of aggravated child abuse, and one count of aggravated child neglect. Later, the trial court granted the Defendant’s motion for new trial on grounds that she had been deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Prior to the new trial, the Defendant provided notice that she intended to offer expert testimony of her diminished capacity at the time of the offenses. The State moved to exclude the testimony, arguing that the testimony was not admissible because it did not satisfy the requirements established in State v. Hall, 958 S.W.2d 679 (Tenn. 1997). Following a hearing, the trial court denied the State’s motion and deemed the testimony admissible. The trial court and this court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9. In this interlocutory appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s denial of its motion to exclude expert testimony regarding the Defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged offenses, reiterating the claim that the evidence does not satisfy the requirements for admission. Because we agree that the proffered evidence does not satisfy the requirements for admission established by Hall and its progeny, we reverse the ruling of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/19
Roy Anthony Haley v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00976-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

The Petitioner, Roy Anthony Haley, was convicted of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, and he was sentenced as a Range III, persistent offender to fifteen years in confinement. Subsequently, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied the petition. The Petitioner appeals, contending that he was denied due process at his post-conviction hearing because he was not afforded the opportunity to call critical witnesses and because the post-conviction court was so biased and prejudiced toward him as to render the hearing unfair. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/19
Jeffery Todd Burke v. Sparta Newspapers, Inc.
M2016-01065-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars

This appeal requires us to determine whether the fair report privilege applies to a nonpublic, one-on-one conversation between a newspaper reporter and a detective of a county sheriff’s department, who also served as the public information officer for the sheriff’s department. The plaintiff sued the newspaper alleging that it had published defamatory statements the detective made about the plaintiff during the nonpublic, one-on-one conversation with the reporter. The newspaper moved for summary judgment based on the fair report privilege. The trial court granted the newspaper summary judgment, but the Court of Appeals reversed. We hold that the fair report privilege applies only to public proceedings or official actions of government that have been made public and does not apply to the nonpublic, one-on-one conversation at issue here. On this basis alone we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing the trial court’s decision granting the defendant summary judgment and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.  

White County Supreme Court 12/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Kayla Danielle Skillern
M2018-01718-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The Defendant, Kayla Danielle Skillern, was convicted by a Wayne County Circuit Court jury of the sale of 0.5 gram or more of methamphetamine. See T.C.A. § 39-17-434 (2018). She received a sentence of ten and one-half years’ confinement. On appeal, she contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction, (2) the trial court erred in denying her motions for a judgment of acquittal, and (3) the trial court erred in admitting video evidence depicting the Defendant arguing with her codefendant in front of a child. We affirm the Defendant’s conviction but remand the case to the trial court for the entry of a corrected judgment.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/19
Tommy Leroy Bryant v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02151-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

The Petitioner, Tommy Leroy Bryant, appeals from the Marshall County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his three rape of a child convictions, for which he is serving a twenty-five-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Adarion C. Morris
M2018-02034-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The defendant, Adarion C. Morris, appeals the 48-year sentence imposed following the revocation of his community corrections placement, arguing that the trial court was without jurisdiction to impose the new sentence and that the sentence is excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm the revocation of the defendant’s community corrections placement and the sentences imposed following the resentencing.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Joan Odell
W2018-01341-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Joan Odell, appeals from her felony conviction for failure to appear, which resulted in a sentence of two years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction and challenges the jury instructions. She also contends that the State engaged in purposeful discrimination in striking a prospective juror in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction and that there was no reversible error in the instructions. However, the trial court failed to comply with the procedure set forth in Batson by denying the Defendant’s Batson claim based upon the Defendant’s race, and we remand for a hearing on the issue.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/03/19
Angela Dotson v. State of Tennessee
E2019-00325-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William A. Young

Plaintiff filed a complaint asserting a health care liability claim against the state and attached a certificate of good faith. The Tennessee Claims Commission found that the certificate of good faith failed to satisfy the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26- 122 because it was not specific as to the state health care provider. Despite this finding, the court concluded that the statute was satisfied because the complaint contained the certificate of good faith language and identified the state health care provider. The state then filed this interlocutory appeal. We reverse.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/03/19
Danny Santarone v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01312-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

Petitioner, Danny Santarone, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner argues (1) that he was wrongfully convicted based on the fruits of an unconstitutional search and (2) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. Following a review of the briefs and the record, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/02/19
In Re Bryson B. Et Al.
E2019-00729-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Wylie Richardson

This is a termination of parental rights case involving four minor children. In October 2017, temporary custody of the children was granted to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”), and the children were placed in foster care. The McMinn County Juvenile Court (“trial court”) subsequently adjudicated the children dependent and neglected in December 2017. DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the mother and father on December 7, 2018, alleging, as statutory grounds for termination, abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home, abandonment by failure to support, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans, persistence of the conditions leading to the children’s removal from the parents’ home, and failure to assume custody or financial responsibility for the children.1 Following a bench trial, the trial court granted the petition as to the mother upon finding that DCS had proven by clear and convincing evidence the grounds of (1) persistence of the conditions leading to removal, (2) substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans, and (3) failure to assume custody or financial responsibility for the children.2 The trial court also found clear and convincing evidence that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interest. The mother has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

McMinn County Court of Appeals 12/02/19
Nathaniel P. Carson v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00042-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Nathaniel P. Carson, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his 2010 convictions of two counts of first degree felony murder and two counts of especially aggravated robbery. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/02/19
Petr Pompa v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00075-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, Petr Pompa, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to: 1) raise in the motion for new trial the admissibility of opinion testimony from a school resource officer; 2) raise in the motion for new trial the admissibility of character testimony provided by a school counselor; and 3) object to the prosecutor’s statements during closing argument. Following a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/02/19
James Holmes v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01709-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, James Holmes, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner argues that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his attorneys failed to adequately prepare for Petitioner’s trial and because there was a breakdown in communication between Petitioner and his attorneys. Following a review of the briefs and record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Dana Ray Davison
W2018-00968-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

A McNairy County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Dana Ray Davison, of attempted voluntary manslaughter; employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony; employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony while having a prior felony conviction; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; felony reckless endangerment; possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony drug offense; criminal trespass of a habitation; and the intentional killing of an animal. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the two convictions of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony and ordered that the Appellant serve a total effective twenty-year sentence for all of the convictions. Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324(h)(2), the twenty-year sentence included a mandatory ten-year sentence to be served at one hundred percent for employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony while having a prior felony conviction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the sentencing provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324 violate the principles of due process because they lack definiteness and specificity. The State contends that the trial court erred by not sentencing the Appellant for both convictions of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony before merging the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Charles Keese
E2016-02020-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

This is the second in a succession of three cases concerning Section 5 of the Public Safety Act of 2016, which took effect on January 1, 2017, and amended Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105, the statute providing for grading of theft offenses.  In 2016, before the amended version of the statute took effect, Charles Keese, the defendant, was convicted of theft of property in the amount of $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony at the time of the offense.  In sentencing the defendant before the amendment’s effective date, the trial court applied the amended version of the statute, which graded theft of more than $1,000 but less than $2,500 as a Class E felony, and sentenced the defendant accordingly.  Both the State and the defendant filed notices of appeal.  The Court of Criminal Appeals, after determining that appellate jurisdiction over the sentencing issue raised by the State was proper, vacated the sentence and remanded for entry of a sentence reflecting a conviction of a Class D felony.  We granted the defendant’s application for permission to appeal in this case in order to consider (1) whether the State had the right to appeal the trial court’s sentencing decision, and (2) whether the Criminal Savings Statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-11-112, should apply to the amendments of the theft grading statute where, as here, the offense occurred and the defendant was sentenced before the statute’s effective date.  We conclude that the State had a statutory right to appeal the sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-402(b)(1).  In addition, we agree with the Court of Criminal Appeals’ determination that the Criminal Savings Statute applies to the amendments to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105.  We also agree with its ultimate conclusion that the trial court erred in sentencing the defendant under the amended version of the statute prior to its effective date.  We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand to the trial court for the entry of a modified judgment consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Supreme Court 11/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Ashley N. Menke
M2017-00597-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Thompson

This appeal concerns Section 5 of the Public Safety Act of 2016, which took effect on January 1, 2017, and amended Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105, the statute providing for grading of theft offenses.  In 2016, before the amended statute took effect, Ashley N. Menke, the defendant, entered a guilty plea without a recommended sentence for, among other things, theft of property in the amount of $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony at the time of the offense.  In sentencing the defendant after the amendment’s effective date, the trial court applied the amended version of the statute, which graded theft in the amount of $1,000 or less as a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced the defendant accordingly for her theft of exactly $1,000.  The State appealed, and the Court of Criminal Appeals vacated the sentence and remanded to the trial court for resentencing within the applicable range for a Class D felony and consecutive alignment with the sentences for some of the defendant’s other charges.  We granted the defendant’s application for permission to appeal in this case with direction to the parties to particularly address the following issues: (1) whether the State was entitled to pursue an appeal as of right from the trial court’s decision, and (2) whether the Criminal Savings Statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-11-112, should apply to the amendments of the theft grading statute.  We conclude that the State had a statutory right to appeal the sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-402(b)(1).  We further conclude, unlike the Court of Criminal Appeals, that the Criminal Savings Statute applies to the amendments to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105.  Thus, the amended theft grading statute was appropriately applied by the trial court even though the offense occurred before the amendment’s effective date.  Therefore, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sumner County Supreme Court 11/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Michael Eugene Tolle
E2017-00571-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

This is the third in a succession of three cases concerning Section 5 of the Public Safety Act of 2016, which took effect on January 1, 2017, and amended Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105, the statute providing for grading of theft offenses.  In 2012, before the amended version of the statute took effect, Michael Eugene Tolle, the defendant, pleaded guilty to theft of property in the amount of more than $500 but less than $1,000, a Class E felony at the time of the offense, and he was sentenced accordingly.  In 2017, following the revocation of his probation, the trial court applied the amended version of the statute, which graded theft in the amount of $1,000 or less as a Class A misdemeanor, and imposed a Class A misdemeanor sentence.  The State appealed.  The Court of Criminal Appeals, after determining that it had authority to consider the issue raised by the State, vacated the sentence and remanded for entry of a sentence reflecting his conviction for a Class E felony.  We granted the defendant’s application for permission to appeal in this case in order to consider (1) whether the State had the right to appeal the trial court’s revocation order, and (2) whether the defendant, who was originally sentenced under the prior version of the statute, may benefit from the lesser punishment under the amended version of the theft grading statute following the revocation of his probation.  We conclude that, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35, the intermediate appellate court acquired jurisdiction of the State’s claim when the defendant, in effect, filed a Rule 35 motion for reduction of sentence.  In addition, while we agree with the Court of Criminal Appeals’ determination that the Criminal Savings Statute applies to the amendments to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105, we also agree with its ultimate conclusion that the trial court exceeded its authority in modifying the offense class and sentence pursuant to the amended version of the statute following the revocation of his probation.  We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand to the trial court for the entry of a modified judgment consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Supreme Court 11/27/19