Court Opinions

Format: 05/22/2020
Format: 05/22/2020
Richard Hatchel v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00098-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Richard Hatchel, appeals as of right from the Tipton County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress his two police statements. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
Courtney R. Logan v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01215-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner appeals the summary denial of his third petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he challenged his extradition to Mississippi. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
Robert G. Thornton, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01259-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

In 2014, a Hickman County jury convicted the Petitioner, Robert G. Thornton, Jr., of two counts of rape, and the trial court merged his convictions and sentenced him to twelve years of incarceration. The Petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, and we affirmed the judgments. State v. Robert G. Thornton, Jr., No. M2015-01895-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 2704123 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, June 22, 2017), no perm. app. filed. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Kurt Douglas Brown
E2019-01068-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Kurt Douglas Brown, was convicted by a Campbell County Criminal Court jury of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1307 (2014) (subsequently amended). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II offender to eight years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred (1) by admitting as evidence the 9-1-1 recording and his previous voluntary manslaughter conviction and (2) by determining that his previous aggravated assault conviction was a crime of violence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Johnny James Parrish
E2019-00664-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Defendant, Johnny James Parrish, was convicted by a Greene County Criminal Court Jury of two counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, for which he is serving an effective fifteen-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender. See T.C.A. § 39-13- 102(a)(1) (2014) (subsequently amended). On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the State made an inadequate election of offenses, (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial based upon the victim’s not having been sequestered before he testified, (4) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) regarding a prior bad act of the Defendant toward the victim, and (5) he is entitled to a new trial due to cumulative errors. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Derrick Darnell Moore and Demichael Tyrone Moore
M2018-01764-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendants, Derrick Darnell Moore and Demichael Tyrone Moore, were convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202 (2018) (first degree murder); 39-13-403 (2018) (especially aggravated robbery). Defendant Derrick Moore was also convicted of criminally negligent homicide, which the trial court merged into the felony murder conviction. See id. § 39-13-212 (2018) (criminally negligent homicide). Defendant Demichael Moore was also convicted of second degree murder, which the trial court likewise merged into the felony murder conviction. See id. § 39-13-210 (2018) (second degree murder). The trial court sentenced Defendant Derrick Moore to concurrent terms of life imprisonment for felony murder and twenty years for especially aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced Defendant Demichael Moore to consecutive terms of life imprisonment for felony murder and thirty-two years for especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendants contend that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support their convictions, (2) the trial court violated the rules of evidence and their confrontation rights by admitting as substantive evidence a recording of a conversation in which the Defendants were implicated in the offenses, and (3) the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct during its rebuttal closing argument. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Ashley Carver
W2019-01727-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

Ashley Carver, Movant, appeals from the summary dismissal of her Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct what she claims is a clerical error concerning pretrial jail credits. In a one sentence order, the trial court summarily dismissed the “Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence” without making any findings. Because this was a Rule 36 motion to correct an alleged clerical error, not a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, we vacate the order dismissing the motion and remand for further consideration by the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
Sandra Ann Pippin v. Christina Michelle Pippin (Dissent)
M2018-00376-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Thomas Gwin

This opinion is stuck in the past. In my opinion, Obergefell v. Hodges, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), altered the way we must interpret many statutes relating to marriage and parentage. In Obergefell, the United State Supreme Court legalized samesex marriage in the entire United States. It has met with resistance, just like Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), and other United States Supreme Court cases that required society to alter its thinking about its institutions.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Sandra Ann Pippin v. Christina Michelle Pippin
M2018-00376-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Thomas Gwin

The non-biological parent of a child born by artificial insemination to a woman with whom the non-biological parent had maintained a long term relationship and who had lived with the child, holding herself out as one of the child’s parents, filed a petition to establish her parentage of the child and to set a parenting schedule; the petition was dismissed on the basis that she lacked standing; the trial court also awarded the petitioner visitation with the child. Upon our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition and vacate the order setting visitation.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Tinin Contracting Company, Inc., et al v. Enviroworks, Inc.
M2019-00763-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

This is a case involving the breach of an oral contract to provide excavation work and materials for an airport construction project in Bolivar, Tennessee. The trial court awarded $128,058.09 in favor of the subcontractor against the project’s general contractor. On appeal, the general contractor argued that the oral contract existing between the parties included the subcontractor sharing in certain surveying and testing costs incurred on its scope of work on the project, that it was entitled to a credit for these costs, and that, ultimately, the trial court miscalculated its award of damages. We affirm the trial court’s finding that there was no agreement existing between the parties for the subcontractor to incur any surveying or testing costs and that, as a result, the general contractor was not entitled to a credit for these expenses against the balance of the moneys it owed the subcontractor. However, because the order contains insufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law as to why the trial court included an additional $5,593.40 in the final judgment beyond the damages sought in the complaint, we vacate that portion of the final judgment and remand the case to the trial court with instructions to reduce the judgment against the general contractor from $128,058.09 to $122,464.69.

Wayne County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Alysia Reese McCracken Hancock v. BJR Enterprises, LLC, Et Al. - Concurring
E2019-01158-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

I concur in the majority’s decision to affirm the Trial Court. I agree the authorization form was so insufficient as not to allow the medical providers to obtain medical records from the other providers. I, however, continue to adhere to the position as stated in my dissent in Parks v. Walker, 585 S.W.3d 895, 900 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2018) that if a medical authorization form along with other information provided to the healthcare providers is sufficient to enable them to obtain a plaintiff’s records simply by asking, then there is substantial compliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E).

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Alysia Reese McCracken Hancock v. BJR Enterprises, LLC, Et Al.
E2019-01158-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

This is a healthcare liability action. In her medical authorizations, the plaintiff left blank lines as to who was authorized to receive the patient’s records from the medical providers and others receiving notice. The defendants claimed that the authorizations were not HIPAA1-compliant, as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26- 121(a)(2)(E). The plaintiff responded that by construing the pre-suit notice packet materials as one cohesive document, all of the elements required by the statute are present and that the defendants had at their disposal all of the information necessary to obtain the patient’s medical records. The plaintiff further asserted that the failure of the defendants to attempt to obtain the records precludes any demonstration of prejudice to them. The trial court determined that the plaintiff’s statutory notice failed to substantially comply with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Bruce D. Mendenhall
M2018-02089-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The Defendant, Bruce D. Mendenhall, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder and abuse of a corpse, for which he received sentences of life and two years, respectively. His sentences were ordered to be served consecutively to one another, as well as to two prior consecutive sentences from Davidson County of life imprisonment for murder and thirty years for three counts of solicitation to commit murder. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the following: (1) the trial court’s reliance on the doctrine of collateral estoppel to deny his various motions to suppress certain evidence, wherein he raised threshold constitutional issues; (2) the trial court’s denial of his motion to exclude 404(b) evidence and the failure to redact his police statement accordingly; (3) the trial court’s denial of his motion to continue based upon the State’s late disclosure of surveillance footage from the truck stop; (4) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions; and (5) the imposition of consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Glen Allen Donaldson
E2019-00543-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The defendant, Glen Allen Donaldson, appeals his Hamilton County Criminal Court jury conviction of second degree murder, arguing that the trial court erred by excluding certain evidence, admitting into evidence a life photograph of the victim, and denying the defendant’s requested jury instructions on self-defense and provocation; that he was prejudiced by the cumulative effect of trial errors; that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; and that his sentence was excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
William E. Eakes, III v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00050-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The petitioner, William E. Eakes, III, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis by the Davidson County Criminal Court, arguing the trial court erred in dismissing the petition because newly discovered evidence exists in his case. After our review, we conclude the petition is untimely and does not present a cognizable claim for coram nobis relief. Accordingly, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
Rudolph Munn v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02240-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

In 1999, a jury convicted the Petitioner, Rudolph Munn, of killing his college roommate, Andrew Poklemba. State v. Munn, 56 S.W.3d 486, 489 (Tenn. 2001). This court affirmed his conviction of first-degree premeditated murder, see State v. Rudolph Munn, No. 01C01-9801-CCA-00007, 1999 WL 177341, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 1, 1999); however, a dissenting judge would have remanded the matter for a new sentencing hearing. Id. (Tipton, dissenting). The Tennessee Supreme Court agreed that a new sentencing hearing was necessary and held, inter alia, that the Petitioner had a lawful expectation of privacy, and thus, police secret videotaping of the Petitioner’s communications with his parents constituted an illegal seizure under the federal and state constitutions, as well as under the federal and state wiretapping statutes. Munn, 56 S.W.3d 486. Upon remand in 2002, the Petitioner received a sentence of life without parole. Sixteen years later, on November 13, 2018, the Petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, arguing that one of his trial counsel was “slightly biased” based upon his “unequivocal ties” to the university attended by the Petitioner and the victim at the time of the offense. The Petitioner further alleged that he was entitled to due process tolling of the statute of limitations because he became aware of these ties on or about November 17, 2017. Two days after the petition was filed, it was summarily dismissed by the coram nobis court as untimely and unsupported by due process considerations to toll the statute of limitations. The Petitioner now appeals, and upon our review, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Wayne Keith Wallen
E2019-01218-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The defendant, Wayne Keith Wallen, appeals the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion. Though conceding the challenged sentence has expired, the defendant, relying on Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251 (Tenn. 2007), argues the trial court erred in dismissing his petition. The trial court, relying on State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200 (Tenn. 2015), found that the defendant’s sentence had expired and that the defendant’s claim required relitigating the case in order to determine whether the sentence was illegal which is not proper under Rule 36.1. Thus, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion. Upon our review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Michael Wayman
E2019-01357-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The defendant, Michael Wayman, pleaded guilty to sale of a Schedule II controlled substance (Count 1) and delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance (Count 2). The trial court merged the two counts and imposed a sentence of nine years’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erroneously denied his request for alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgements of the trial court.

Union County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Gerald Sluder
E2019-01321-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Gerald Sluder, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the parties agreed to a five-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve one year in confinement and the remainder on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in imposing a sentence of split confinement. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Jay Aaron Jackson
M2019-01128-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Defendant, Jay Aaron Jackson, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of one count of coercion of a witness, two counts of domestic assault, and one count of domestic assault by extremely offensive or provocative physical contact. The trial court sentenced Defendant, as a Range II multiple offender, to an effective sentence of seven years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment based on a violation of Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure and Brady v. Maryland; (2) the trial court erred by permitting the State to elicit impermissible and prejudicial evidence in violation of Rule 404(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant’s convictions for coercion of a witness and one count of domestic assault; (4) the trial court erred in sentencing Defendant as a Range II multiple offender; and (5) the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight. Following a thorough review, we affirm the convictions for coercion of a witness (Count 1), domestic assault (Count 3), and domestic assault by extremely offensive or provocative physical contact (Count 4) and reverse the conviction for domestic assault (Count 2). Because the sentence in Count 2 was ordered to be served concurrently with Count 1, we affirm the effective sentence of seven years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days’ incarceration.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
Henry Floyd Sanders v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00397-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

In 2011, a Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Henry Floyd Sanders, of five counts of aggravated sexual battery and four counts of rape of a child, and the trial court sentenced him to forty years of incarceration. The Petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, and this court and our supreme court affirmed the judgments. State v. Sanders, 452 S.W.3d 300 (Tenn. 2014); State v. Henry Floyd Sanders, No. M2011-00962-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 4841545 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Oct. 9, 2012). Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which the
post-conviction court denied after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Antwon Young
W2019-00090-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, Antwon Young, was convicted after a jury trial of two counts of first degree felony murder; two counts of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony; one count of attempted especially aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; eight counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony; and one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39 12-101, -13-102, -13-202, -13-210, -13-402, -13-403, -17-1324(b), -17-1324(i)(1). The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life, to be served partially consecutively to the Defendant’s sentence in Shelby County case numbers 15-05135 and 15-109300. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after a reference was made to the Defendant’s being previously incarcerated; (3) the trial court erred by not allowing evidence of a witness’s gang affiliation; and (4) the trial court erred by sustaining the State’s objection during counsel’s closing argument. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court, but remand for the correction of clerical errors in the judgments in Counts 1, 2, 5 and 15.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Bryan James Nicholas Milam
M2019-00656-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, Bryan James Nicholas Milam, pleaded guilty to multiple offenses over the course of three years, and in each case the trial court sentenced him to alternative sentences, including Community Corrections. Following multiple violations of the terms of his release, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his total effective fifteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
Casey Colbert v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00383-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Petitioner, Casey Colbert, challenges the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he attacked his jury convictions for first degree felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner raises numerous grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, including that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct reasonable investigation; failing to call various witnesses; failing to impeach and thoroughly cross-examine the State’s witnesses; failing to present viable alibi and third-party perpetrator theories of defense; failing to object to the co-defendant’s surprise testimony placing the Petitioner at the scene when notice of alibi had been given; and failing to object to improper closing argument by the State at trial. In addition, he raises allegations of newly discovered evidence and prosecutorial misconduct. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we are constrained to agree with the Petitioner that the post-conviction court failed to make sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law to enable appellate review of his claims. According, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Clarence William Groves
M2019-00536-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the defendant, Clarence William Groves, for aggravated child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury (Count 1), aggravated child abuse by use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrumentality (Count 2), aggravated child neglect (Count 3), and criminal impersonation (Count 4). On the first day of trial, the defendant entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor criminal impersonation charge in Count 4. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted as charged in Counts 1 and 2 and was convicted of the lesser included offense of child neglect in Count 3. Thereafter, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of twenty-one years for all four counts. On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) the State violated his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent; (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its closing arguments; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court in Counts 1, 2, and 3; however, because the record shows that the defendant entered a guilty plea to the criminal impersonation charge in Count 4, we dismiss for lack of jurisdiction the portion of the defendant’s appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting that conviction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20