Court Opinions

Format: 05/26/2017
Format: 05/26/2017
Jackie F. Curry v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01893-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Petitioner, Jackie F. Curry, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings. Petitioner argues that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156 (2012), established a new rule of constitutional law that should be applied retroactively to his case. Because Petitioner failed to follow the statutory requirements to seek discretionary review of a motion to reopen, this Court does not have jurisdiction, and we dismiss the appeal.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/17
Courtney R. Logan v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
E2016-01535-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey H. Wicks

The Petitioner, Courtney R. Logan, appeals as of right from the Morgan County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner challenges his long-ago extradition to the state of Mississippi. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/17
Kenneth J. Cradic v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01082-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Petitioner, Kenneth J. Cradic, appeals as of right from the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis relief. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred in denying his petition because he presented newly discovered evidence of his actual innocence through a new witness who would discredit the victim’s trial testimony and evidence that the victim recanted her trial testimony on numerous occasions since the trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/17
In Re: Lena G.
E2016-00798-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert G. Lincoln

This is a termination of parental rights case involving the child, Lena G. (“the Child”), who was fifteen years of age at the conclusion of trial. On October 8, 2013, the Washington County Juvenile Court (“trial court”) granted temporary legal custody of the Child to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”). The Child was immediately placed in foster care, where she has remained since that date. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order on June 11, 2014, adjudicating the Child dependent and neglected in the care of the parents. On November 19, 2014, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the Child’s mother, Sherry G. (“Mother”), and her father, Teddy G. (“Father”). The trial court admitted Mother’s hospital records as an exhibit during trial over her objection. Following a bench trial, the trial court terminated Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to the Child after determining by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the parents failed to provide a suitable home for the Child, (2) the parents failed to substantially comply with the requirements of the permanency plans, (3) the conditions that led to the removal of the Child from the parents’ custody still persisted, and (4) Mother was mentally incompetent to adequately care for the Child. The trial court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s and Father’s parental rights was in the best interest of the Child. Both Mother and Father have appealed. Having determined that the Child had not been removed from the parents’ home for six months by court order when the petition to terminate parental rights was filed, we reverse the trial court’s ruling regarding the statutory ground of persistence of conditions as to both parents. We conclude that the trial court erred in admitting Mother’s hospital records but determine this error to be harmless. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to the Child.

Washington County Court of Appeals 05/26/17
Joshlin Renee Woodruff by and through Dorothy Cockrell, et al. v. Armie Walker, M.D., et al.
W2016-01895-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The plaintiffs, a mother and her child, filed this health care liability action in September 2015. The complaint alleged that both plaintiffs suffered permanent injuries resulting from the defendant health care providers’ negligent care during the child’s birth in June 2012. The defendants moved to dismiss the mother’s claims based on expiration of the one-year statute of limitations in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-116(a)(1) and to dismiss the claims of both plaintiffs based on expiration of the three-year statute of repose in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-116(a)(3). With regard to the statute of limitations, the plaintiffs argued that the mother’s claims were timely filed because the discovery rule delayed the accrual of her claims until March 2015 and because she had been “adjudicated incompetent” within the meaning of Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-1-106 such that the limitations period was tolled as to her claims. With regard to the statute of repose, the plaintiffs argued that their claims were timely filed because they were entitled to rely on Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c), which extends the three-year statute of repose by 120 days when sufficient pre-suit notice is given. Following a hearing, the trial court concluded that neither the discovery rule nor Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-1-106 applied to the mother’s claims and that her claims were therefore filed after expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. Additionally, the trial court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient presuit notice because the medical authorizations included in their pre-suit notice did not permit the defendants to obtain their complete medical records. Specifically, the trial court found the authorizations insufficient because they did not permit the defendants to obtain relevant medical records from prenatal treatment that the mother received prior to the date of the delivery. The trial court therefore concluded that the plaintiffs were not entitled to rely on the 120-day extended filing period and their claims were filed after expiration of the three-year statute of repose. The trial court dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ claims, and the plaintiffs appealed. Having reviewed the record submitted on appeal, we hold that the trial court properly dismissed the mother’s claims based on expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. We further hold, however, that the trial court erred in dismissing the child’s claims based on expiration of the three-year statute of repose. Records from prenatal treatment that the mother received prior to the date of the delivery were the mother’s medical records, and the child could not have unilaterally authorized their release. As such, his failure to do so did not render the medical authorizations provided with his pre-suit notice insufficient. The defendants have not asserted any other deficiencies in the child’s pre-suit notice. Because the child provided sufficient pre-suit notice, he was entitled to rely on Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c), which extended the filing period by 120 days. The child’s claims were therefore timely filed prior to expiration of the extended statute of repose in October 2015. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Madison County Court of Appeals 05/26/17
City of Chattanooga, et al. v. Tax Year 2011 City Delinquent Real Estate Taxpayers
E2016-01853-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Pamela A. Fleenor

This case involves a request to redeem real property following a tax sale. The trial court entered an order of redemption, divested title out of the tax sale purchaser, and directed the court clerk to refund the tax sale purchaser the money expended to purchase the property, plus other sums. We affirm. Finding the appeal to be frivolous, we remand for a determination of damages pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 27-1-122.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 05/26/17
Tony Frank et al. v. Ronnie Fields
E2016-00809-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerri S. Bryant

This case involves a claim of undue influence against an attorney-in-fact for his role in changing bank accounts and certificates of deposit owned by the principal to be payable on death to the attorney-in-fact. The principal, or decedent in this action, died at the age of ninety-five in January 2012. The decedent was survived by two nieces and three nephews, one of whom, the defendant, was the decedent’s attorney-in-fact and the personal representative of his estate. The decedent’s two nieces and one other nephew filed a complaint alleging undue influence arising from a confidential relationship. Following a bench trial, the trial court dismissed the complaint upon finding that although a presumption of undue influence had been raised by a confidential relationship between the attorney-in-fact and the decedent, the attorney-in-fact had successfully rebutted the presumption. The plaintiffs appeal. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Monroe County Court of Appeals 05/26/17
Timothy Roberson v. Cherry Lindamood, et al
M2016-01797-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

An inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction filed this lawsuit against three prison employees seeking to recover certain personal property. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice based on the inmate’s failure to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-21-805, which requires inmates wanting to proceed in forma pauperis to submit to the trial court a complete list of every previous lawsuit or claim filed by the inmate. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Wayne County Court of Appeals 05/26/17
In re Casyn B., et al.
M2016-01958-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy R. Brock

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights. The court terminated the father’s rights on the grounds of abandonment by engaging in conduct that exhibited wanton disregard for the children’s welfare, as well as substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan. The court found that termination was in the children’s best interests. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Coffee County Court of Appeals 05/26/17
In Re March 9, 2012 Order
W2016-02015-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

This appeal involves an attempt to set aside an allegedly void order pursuant to Rule 60.02(3) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. The trial court dismissed the petition for multiple reasons, including res judicata. We affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/26/17
Kristie Linley Sibley v. Corey D. Sibley
M2015-01795-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

This is a divorce case. Wife was granted a divorce due to Husband’s inappropriate marital conduct. The trial court then made a division of the parties’ marital property and debt, which included an award to Wife of the marital residence and the equity therein. The court further awarded Wife $1,100 per month for 36 months in rehabilitative alimony and $3,000 in attorney’s fees as alimony in solido. Husband appeals the trial court’s awards of the marital residence and alimony to Wife. Wife seeks attorney’s fees for defending this appeal. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings. Specifically, we affirm the trial court’s award of the marital residence to Wife, and we vacate and remand for additional findings on the issues of alimony and attorney’s fees. We deny Wife’s request for attorney’s fees on appeal.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 05/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Nathan Bernard Lalone
E2016-00439-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

Defendant, Nathan Bernard Lalone, was convicted of one count of first degree murder and one count of attempted first degree murder. He raises the following issues on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress his statement to police because he had invoked his right to remain silent; (2) the trial court erred in denying a motion for leave to file an interlocutory appeal of the suppression issue; (3) the trial court erred in denying a motion for judgment of acquittal and motion for new trial because the accomplice testimony was not sufficiently corroborated; (4) the trial court erred in allowing the State to play a videotaped interview of a witness as a prior inconsistent statement; and (5) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Upon our review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and that the error was not harmless. Furthermore, we conclude that the trial court committed plain error in admitting a witness’s recorded statement into evidence without following the Rules of Evidence with regard to prior inconsistent statements. For these two reasons, we reverse Defendant’s convictions and remand the case for a new trial.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/17
Tamala Teague, et al. v. Garnette Kidd, et al.
E2016-01995-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerri S. Bryant

In this fraudulent conveyance action, a trial by jury resulted in judgment for decedent’s estate against defendants. Defendants filed a motion for a new trial asserting that: (1) the trial court erred in failing to grant a mistrial after counsel for decedent’s estate made a comment about one of the defendant’s credibility from “past cases” purportedly in the presence of the jury; and (2) no evidence supports the jury verdict. The trial court denied the post-trial motion and affirmed the jury verdict. Defendants appealed. We affirm.

Polk County Court of Appeals 05/25/17
In Re: Jayson M.
E2016-02286-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

Father appeals the termination of his parental rights on the grounds of abandonment by willful failure to visit, contending that he was not properly notified of the hearing to terminate his rights and was denied his right to counsel. Upon review of the record, we vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/25/17
Katrina Parrish v. Michael Griggs
W2015-02504-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Y. Ross

This appeal involves a petition to establish paternity, which was filed when the child was a teenager. DNA testing established the father as the biological father of the child. In the father’s counter-petition for custody, he claimed that, shortly after the child’s birth, the mother informed him that he was not the child’s father. After a two-day trial, the juvenile court entered an order establishing the father’s parentage, naming the mother primary residential parent, and changing the child’s surname to the father’s surname. The court also ordered the father to pay child support retroactive to the date of the child’s birth. On appeal, the father challenges the court’s decision regarding retroactive child support and the court’s exclusion of certain documents from the appellate record. After reviewing the record, we conclude that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying the father’s request for a deviation from the child support guidelines. We also conclude that the court’s error in excluding documents from the appellate record was harmless in this instance. However, we conclude that the court erred in ordering the child’s surname to be changed from Mother’s to Father’s. Therefore, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

Hardin County Court of Appeals 05/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Eric Dwayne Wilson
M2016-00822-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, Eric Dwayne Wilson, in a jury trial, was convicted of third offense driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), and of violating the implied consent law following a bench trial. Defendant pleaded nolo contendere to failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to have each required lamp and stoplight in operating condition. Defendant received a sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days, with three hundred days of confinement in the county jail and the remainder of the sentence on supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and his license was revoked for six years. Concerning the implied consent violation, the judgment form indicates that Defendant’s driver’s license was revoked for one year “consecutive to any revocation or suspension currently in effect.” Defendant was also sentenced to thirty days each for failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to have each required lamp and stoplight in operating condition to be served concurrently with the DUI charge. On appeal, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for DUI and that there was no proof relating to the implied consent form and the search warrant. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/17
Stephen Wayne Shreve v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01743-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

The Petitioner, Stephen Wayne Shreve, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated burglary, one count of attempted aggravated burglary, and two counts of theft and his effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was given an illegal sentence and that he entered his guilty pleas involuntarily and unknowingly. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Gregory T. Phelps
E2016-00918-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Gregory T. Phelps, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation for his convictions for felony drug possession and unlawful possession of a firearm and order that he serve his effective four-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17
Jason Baine v. Brenda Woods
W2016-00583-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ricky L. Wood

A father appeals the denial of his petition to modify a permanent parenting plan. The juvenile court found no material change in circumstance had occurred sufficient to modify the primary residential parent designation. The court also denied the father’s subsequent motion to alter or amend the judgment. Because the father failed to file a transcript or a statement of the evidence, we presume that the evidence presented at trial supported the court’s determination that no material change in circumstance occurred. Therefore, we affirm both the judgment of the juvenile court and the denial of the father’s motion to alter or amend the judgment to conform to the evidence presented at trial. We also find that this appeal is frivolous.

Court of Appeals 05/24/17
In Re Martese P.
W2016-01922-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Christy R. Little

This appeal arises from the termination of Mother’s parental rights. The child was removed from Mother’s custody in November 2013, when the child was twelve months old, after Mother and the child tested positive for drugs. On the petition of the Department of Children’s Services, the juvenile court adjudicated the child dependent and neglected based on the finding that Mother committed severe child abuse as defined in Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-102. In September 2014, DCS placed the child in the custody of Petitioners. One year later, Petitioners filed a petition to terminate Mother’s parental rights. The juvenile court terminated Mother’s parental rights on the ground of severe child abuse and the finding that termination of her rights was in the child’s best interest. Mother appealed. We affirm.

Madison County Court of Appeals 05/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Wilson-Concurring
W2015-00699-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

My general disdain for the so-called “good faith exception” is fully set forth in my concurring opinion the first time that this case was before this panel. State v. Christopher Wilson, W2015-00699-CCA-R9-CD, 2016 WL 1627145, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, April 21, 2016) (Woodall, P.J., concurring opinion). In light of our supreme court’s embracing of the “good faith exception” in State v. Reynolds, 504 S.W.3d 283 (Tenn. 2016), there is no need to repeat my firm belief that the “good faith exception” should never be recognized in Tennessee. As a judge of an intermediate court, I am required to follow specific precedent of a higher court, in this case, the Tennessee Supreme Court. State v. Irick, 906 S.W.2d 440, 443 (Tenn. 1995). I fully accept the principle of law that requires me to follow controlling legal authority even when I do not agree. With all due respect, I concur in results only.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Wilson
W2015-00699-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Christopher Wilson, filed a Rule 9 interlocutory appeal seeking our review of the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of his blood alcohol test based upon a violation of Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 (2013). The trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing and found that a “good faith exception” to the Defendant’s forced blood draw existed and denied the Defendant’s motion. The Defendant filed an application for an interlocutory appeal, which the trial court granted. On appeal, the Defendant contended that the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant’s motion to suppress based upon a “good faith exception” to the exclusionary rule. After review, we concluded that the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant’s motion to suppress because, at that time, there was not a good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. State v. Christopher Wilson, W2015-00699-CCA-R9-CD, 2016 WL 1627145, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, April 21, 2016). On November 22, 2016, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted Defendant’s application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court’s recent opinion in State v. Reynolds, 504 S.W.3d 283 (Tenn. 2016). Upon reconsideration in light of Reynolds, we conclude that the officer acted with reasonable good-faith reliance on binding precedent in effect at the time. Accordingly, we reinstate and affirm the trial court’s denial of the Defendant’s motion to suppress.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Carl Adkins
W2015-01810-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

Defendant, Carl Adkins, was found guilty by a jury of the offense of rape of a child and was sentenced to serve twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. In this appeal, Defendant challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction, specifically asserting that (1) his identity as the perpetrator was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt because the victim could not identify him in court, and (2) the victim gave contradictory testimony at trial under oath. Following a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Doyan Anderson
W2015-02405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Doyan Anderson, was indicted for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon, a Class C felony; aggravated assault based on violation of a court order, a Class C felony; domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony involving the use or attempted use of violence, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iii), -13-102(c), -13-111, -17-1307. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of domestic assault and both counts of aggravated assault. The jury acquitted the Defendant of the unlawful possession of a firearm charge. The trial court merged the domestic assault conviction into the aggravated assault conviction based on violation of a court order. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a career offender and imposed a total effective sentence of thirty years’ incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon and (2) that the trial court committed plain error by failing to require the State to make an election of the distinct conduct it was relying upon regarding the charge of aggravated assault based on violation of a court order. After the initial filing of this opinion, we granted the State’s Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 39 petition to rehear to allow for supplemental briefing on the issue of whether the Defendant’s aggravated assault convictions should be merged. Following our review, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions. However, we merge the Defendant’s two convictions for aggravated assault and remand the case to the trial court for entry of corrected judgment forms reflecting said merger and the resulting sentence of fifteen years’ incarceration.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17
Jimmy D. Ogle v. Julie D. Duff
E2016-01295-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex A. Dale

Husband and Wife were married for approximately five and one-half years when Husband filed a complaint for divorce. Wife filed a counter-complaint for a divorce. The trial court granted the parties a divorce based on stipulated grounds, classified the parties’ assets as separate or marital, and divided the marital estate. Husband appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in (1) divesting a revocable trust of all assets and refusing to enforce a valid postnuptial agreement associated with the revocable trust; (2) classifying the increase in value of the marital residence as marital property; (3) classifying the increase in value of Husband’s premarital IRA as marital property; and (4) dividing the marital estate equally between the parties given the short duration of the marriage. We affirm as modified and deny Wife’s request for an award of attorney fees on appeal.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 05/24/17