Court Opinions

Format: 10/17/2018
Format: 10/17/2018
Ricky L. Boren, et al. v. Hill Boren, PC, et al.
W2017-02383-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

T. Robert Hill (“Hill”) and Hill Boren, P.C. (collectively “Defendants”) appeal the November 6, 2017 order of the Chancery Court for Madison County (“the Trial Court”) finding Defendants in civil contempt. Defendants raise multiple issues regarding whether Defendants received proper notice, whether damages may be awarded absent a finding of willful contempt, whether the Trial Court erred in awarding damages pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-9-104, and whether the Trial Court erred in allowing Plaintiffs access to corporate documents. We find and hold that Defendants received sufficient notice, that damages may not be awarded absent a finding of willful contempt, that the Trial Court did not err in awarding damages pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-9-104 for the willful failure to turn over a computer server, and that the Trial Court did not err in allowing access to corporate documents. We, therefore, vacate the awards of damages for failure to turn over the copy machine and failure to turn over the Copitraks. We affirm the Trial Court’s holding Defendants in civil contempt with regard to the failure to turn over the server and awarding damages for this contempt. The remainder of the Trial Court’s order is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Appeals 10/17/18
Devon Brown v. State of Tennessee
W2017-02187-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Devon Brown, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2012 convictions of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and reckless endangerment, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
Terry Caraway v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01754-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Petitioner, Terry Caraway, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, and aggravated burglary. On December 15, 2004, Petitioner pleaded guilty to first degree premeditated murder, and the remaining counts were dismissed. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to life imprisonment. On May 12, 2015, Petitioner filed a pro se motion to toll the post-conviction statute of limitations, claiming that he was mentally incompetent and that he was unable to understand the law and comply with the statute of limitations, and a pro se post-conviction petition, alleging that his guilty plea was involuntary. Petitioner was appointed counsel, and counsel filed an amended motion to toll the statute of limitations. An evidentiary hearing on the motion to toll the statute of limitations was held on February 25, 2016, and taken under advisement. An order was entered on December 25, 2016, granting Petitioner the services of an expert “to the extent allowed by law” to determine whether Petitioner suffered from mental illness at the time of the offenses. On August 3, 2017, the postconviction court entered an order denying Petitioner’s motion, in which the court concluded that Petitioner had been unable to present sufficient evidence to prove he suffered from mental illness during the applicable time period. The order effectively dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief, which was filed several years after the statute of limitations had expired. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Tony Arnell Britton
W2017-01817-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The pro se Defendant, Tony Arnell Britton, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
Thomas Edward Clardy v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01193-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Petitioner, Thomas Edward Clardy, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, and three counts of reckless endangerment. Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance counsel, that he is actually innocent, and that the trial court erred by denying him the opportunity to make an offer of proof at the post-conviction hearing. After a thorough review, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and failed to prove that he is actually innocent. Though Petitioner should have been given the opportunity to make an offer of proof, we hold that this error by the post-conviction court was harmless. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
Ricky Harris v. State of Tennessee
E2017-01974-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

In 1988, a Carter County jury convicted the Petitioner, Ricky Harris, of first degree murder. On direct appeal, this court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions. See State v. Ricky Jerome Harris, No. 85, 1990 WL 171507, at *25 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Nov. 8, 1990), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Feb. 4, 1991). In 2017, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The trial court held a hearing and denied the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he is entitled to coram nobis relief based upon newly discovered evidence as well as evidence withheld by the prosecution. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Carter County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Areanna O. Lloyd - dissenting in part
M2017-01919-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

I agree with the majority’s well-reasoned conclusion that the trial court maintained jurisdiction over Defendant’s sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-212 to consider her petition for a suspended sentence. I disagree with the majority’s conclusion that the trial court correctly modified the Defendant’s agreed upon sentence, which was the result of a fully negotiated plea agreement between Defendant and the State just mere months earlier. There is no evidence of post-sentencing information or developments that would warrant an alteration of the agreed upon manner of service of Defendant’s sentence. I respectfully dissent.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Areanna O. Lloyd
M2017-01919-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

Defendant, Areanna O. Lloyd, entered guilty pleas to two counts of robbery in concert with two or more others in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-13-401 and 39-12-302, Class B felonies, and pursuant to the plea agreement was sentenced to concurrent terms of seven years, two months, and twelve days, in the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) as a mitigated offender with release eligibility after service of twenty percent of the sentence. After Defendant was denied parole, she filed a “Petition for Suspended Sentence” (“the petition”). Following a hearing, the trial court determined that it did not have jurisdiction over Defendant’s sentence and denied the petition. Defendant then filed a “Motion to Reconsider” (“the motion”), arguing that she had remained incarcerated in Rutherford County and was never transferred to the physical custody of TDOC, and therefore, the trial court retained “full jurisdiction over the manner of [D]efendant’s sentence service” pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-212(c) and (d)(1). Following a second hearing, the trial court granted the petition and ordered Defendant to serve the balance of her sentence on supervised probation, and the State filed the instant appeal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by suspending the balance of the sentence service and placing her on probation.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
Charles Godspower v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01696-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg
The Petitioner, Charles Godspower, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that due process considerations should toll the running of the statute of limitations because he timely handed his petition to a prison guard during a period of “lockdown” in the prison. He further argues that his trial counsel were per se ineffective in his defense and that he should have been granted post-conviction funds for a mental evaluation. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition as time-barred.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/18
Louise Brandon v. Shelby County Tennessee, et al.
W2017-00780-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

Plaintiff/Appellant appeals the dismissal of her negligence action against Shelby County, Tennessee, brought pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. The trial court found that Appellant’s complaint contained a fatal deficiency in that it failed to allege Appellant’s injuries were sustained as a result of a government employee’s negligent act or omission while acting within the scope of his or her employment. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/16/18
Leighanne Gordon v. Noah Adrian Gordon
M2017-01275-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Deanna B. Johnson

In this post-divorce action, a mother filed a petition to modify the parenting plan, seeking modification of the residential parenting schedule. The father filed a counter-petition requesting that he be designated the primary residential parent. At the conclusion of the father’s direct examination, the mother moved for an involuntary dismissal of his counter-petition, arguing that he failed to prove a material change of circumstance that warranted a change in the primary residential parent. The trial court dismissed the father’s counter-petition and modified the residential parenting schedule. Because the trial court did not allow the father to complete his proof before granting the motion for involuntary dismissal, we vacate the trial court’s judgment in part, affirm in part, and remand for further proceedings.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 10/16/18
Marcus Dwayne Townsend v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00117-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his post-conviction petition related to his guilty plea convictions of two counts of rape of a child, for which he is serving concurrent twenty-five-year sentences as a violent child rapist with 100% service. On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying his petition and argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/18
Arthur Lee Jamison, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01551-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A jury convicted the Petitioner, Arthur Lee Jamison, Jr., of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of a substance containing cocaine within a drug-free school zone. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel when trial counsel failed to communicate with him, failed to file pretrial motions, including a notice of his intent to use the entrapment defense, failed to investigate and summon witnesses, and gave deficient advice regarding testifying at trial. Because the Petitioner has failed to establish either deficiency or prejudice for each claim, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/18
Clark Beauregard Waterford III v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01968-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

A jury convicted the Petitioner, Clark Beauregard Waterford III, of second degree murder for the stabbing of Ms. Faye Burns, and the Petitioner was sentenced to serve forty years in prison. After the Petitioner’s conviction and sentencing, DNA evidence favorable to the Petitioner came to light, and the Petitioner sought post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court determined that the Petitioner had not received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel, that the Petitioner had not established entitlement to relief based on the State’s failure to provide exculpatory evidence, and that the Petitioner was not entitled to relief under the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the Petitioner is not entitled to post-conviction relief, and we affirm the judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/18
John R. Deberry v. Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation
M2017-02399-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

This is a retaliatory discharge claim brought by an employee against his employer, alleging he was fired in retaliation for claiming workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court ruled in favor of the employee, finding that the employee had made a prima facie showing that his termination was in retaliation for his claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court also found that the employee established the employer’s stated non-discriminatory reason was pretext. Because the record does not reflect that the trial court exercised its own independent judgment, we vacate and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 10/15/18
In Re Larry P. Et Al.
M2018-00466-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles B. Tatum
The juvenile court terminated the parental rights of the mother on grounds of abandonment by willful failure to support, abandonment by willful failure to visit, and persistence of conditions and found that termination was in the best interest of the two children. On appeal, we find that clear and convincing evidence supports all three grounds as well as the trial court’s best interest determination. We, therefore, affirm the trial court’s decision.
Wilson County Court of Appeals 10/15/18
Dennis Evans v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01619-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Petitioner, Dennis Evans, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues (1) his conviction in Count 2 for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony violated the prohibition against double jeopardy; (2) that he is entitled to retroactive application of State v. Angela Ayers, No. W2014-00781-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 7212576 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 13, 2016) (“Ayers II”), which requires this court to reverse and vacate his firearm conviction and dismiss Count 2 for lack of adequate notice; and (3) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by advising him to accept the plea agreement offered by the State. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Casey Colbert
W2017-01998-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Defendant-Appellant, Casey Colbert, entered guilty pleas to two counts of bribery of a witness and two counts of coercion of a witness, see T.C.A. §39-16-107(a)(1) and §39-16-507 (2010). After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the two convictions for bribery and the two convictions for coercion into single convictions of bribery and coercion. The trial court then imposed a six-year sentence for bribery and a four-year sentence for coercion, to be served consecutively, for an effective sentence of ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. Upon our review, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Tywan Montrease Sykes
E2017-02300-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

Defendant, Tywan Montrease Sykes, was convicted by a Blount County jury of a violation of the sex offender registry, for which he received a sentence of two years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction because the State failed to prove that he established a secondary residence under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-39-208. Defendant further contends that there was insufficient evidence to corroborate his statements to investigators and establish the “body of the crime,” or corpus delicti. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Berline Orrick
M2017-01856-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

This interlocutory appeal concerns the Warren County Circuit Court’s order granting the Defendant’s motion to disqualify the Office of the District Attorney General for the Thirty-First Judicial District based upon an imputed conflict of interests of an assistant district attorney general. On appeal, the State contends that the trial court abused its discretion by granting the motion. We reverse the order of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
Robert Sawyers, Sr. v. E & R Auto Sales, Inc.
M2018-00495-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones

This appeal arises from a dispute over an automobile purchase. Robert Sawyers, Sr. (“Plaintiff”) filed a claim against E & R Auto Sales, Inc. (“Defendant”) in the General Sessions Court for Davidson County (“the General Sessions Court”) alleging that Defendant sold him a problem-riddled vehicle and seeking $13,000 in damages. The General Sessions Court dismissed Plaintiff’s action. Plaintiff appealed to the Circuit Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court dismissed a counter-claim filed by Defendant and awarded Plaintiff $350.00. Plaintiff appeals pro se, arguing he should have been awarded more money. Plaintiff’s brief fails to comply with Tenn. R. App. P. 27. We, therefore, find that Plaintiff has waived his issue on appeal. Furthermore, the record contains no transcript or statement of the evidence. As such, the record presented to this Court precludes meaningful review of the issue on appeal. Given all this, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/12/18
Stephen P. Geller v. Henry County Board of Education
W2017-01678-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carma Dennis McGee

A tenured teacher serving as an assistant principal was transferred to teach at an alternative school after the local director of schools learned that the teacher did not hold an administrator’s license. On appeal, the teacher asserts that the transfer was arbitrary and capricious where the director of schools did not comply with the law concerning when assistant principals are required to hold administrator’s licenses. Following a trial, the trial court dismissed the teacher’s complaint, ruling that the director of school’s belief that the teacher was required to hold an administrator’s license was reasonable. We conclude that the director of schools’ actions and beliefs were not reasonable under the circumstances; as such, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Henry County Court of Appeals 10/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Raymond Robert Crepack
E2017-02236-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

Following the denial of his motion to suppress, the Defendant-Appellant, Raymond Crepack, was convicted as charged by a Sevier County Circuit Court jury in Count 1 of driving under the influence (DUI by impairment), third offense, T.C.A. § 55-10-401(1); in Count 2 of driving while the alcohol concentration in his blood or breath was 0.08% or more (DUI per se), third offense, id. § 55-10-401(2); in Count 3 of violating the open container law, id. § 55-10-416, and in Count 4 of driving while his license was cancelled, suspended, or revoked for a prior DUI conviction, id. § 55-50-504(a)(1). The trial court merged the conviction for DUI per se, third offense, with the conviction for DUI by impairment, third offense, and sentenced Crepack1 to concurrent sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served at 100%, to thirty days for the open container violation, and to six months for the driving on a revoked license conviction. On appeal, Crepack argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the investigatory stop, which was based upon reports from an anonymous caller, amounted to an improper seizure without independent corroboration of his “poor driving,” and (2) the sentence for his DUI, third offense, conviction is excessive. After review, we remand the case for entry of corrected judgment forms in Counts 1 and 2 as specified in this opinion. In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Eidson
M2017-01808-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Gregory Eidson, was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and received a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the trial court committed reversible error by failing to appoint a court reporter; (2) he and his counsel were improperly excluded from the grand jury proceedings; (3) counsel was ineffective at the preliminary hearing; (4) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements made to an officer before being read his Miranda warnings; (5) the trial court erred in admitting the results of his blood test; (6) the trial court was biased, failed to correct prosecutorial misconduct, and denied the Defendant his right to a speedy trial; and (7) the trial court erred in dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus in a separate case. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Jimmy Williams
W2016-00946-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

We accepted this appeal to determine whether a notice that the State intended to seek enhanced sentencing in one case is sufficient to provide notice that the State intended to seek enhanced sentencing in a subsequent unrelated case involving the same defendant. The defendant, Jimmy Williams, was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced as a career offender to serve fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. At trial, the defendant unsuccessfully objected to his classification as a career offender based on the State’s failure to file a timely notice of its intent to seek enhanced sentencing, and the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the trial court’s ruling. He now appeals the sentencing issue and also argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. We hold that the State must file a timely and proper notice in each case for which it intends to seek enhanced punishment. Consequently, the defendant in this case did not receive proper notice of the State’s intention, and therefore, the trial court should have sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender. However, the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction; therefore, we affirm the defendant’s judgment of conviction for aggravated assault but modify his sentence and remand for entry of a corrected judgment form in accordance with this opinion. 

Shelby County Supreme Court 10/12/18