Court Opinions

Format: 08/05/2020
Format: 08/05/2020
John Garcia v. Shelby County Sheriff's Office
W2018-01802-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

A sheriff’s office demoted an employee for failing to follow official policies and procedures during an arrest. The employee appealed to the civil service merit board. After a hearing, the board found the employee had neglected his duty as the ranking officer at the scene of the arrest. But the board modified the disciplinary action to a 30-day suspension and ordered the employee’s reinstatement to his former rank. The employee then sought judicial review. The chancery court determined that the board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and modified the disciplinary sanction. We conclude that the board’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious. So we reverse.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/30/20
Jerome Perkins v. Tennessee Department of Correction, et al.
M2019-00959-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The Petitioner, Jerome Perkins, appeals the Trousdale County Circuit Court’s summary denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief from his conviction of possession of one-half gram or more of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver and resulting fifteen-year sentence. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
Leslie Allison Muse v. Robert Jolley, Jr.
E2017-01122-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Telford E. Forgety, Jr.

In this divorce proceeding, the wife appeals the trial court’s division of the marital estate and the amount of income set for the husband in determining his child support obligation. We find no reversible error in the court’s division of the marital assets and debts and the amount of Husband’s monthly income it set for the purpose of calculating child support; accordingly, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/30/20
Robert Rodgers v. Rent-A-Center East Inc. ET AL.
W2019-01106-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge:
Trial Court Judge:

Employee was injured in an automobile accident in the course and scope of his employment with Employer. The authorized treating physician and an authorized second opinion physician concluded that Employee suffered zero percent (0%) permanent impairment from his injury and released Employee to return to work. Employee did not successfully return to work and sought private medical treatment, including an independent medical examination (“IME”). The Employee’s IME physician assigned a seven percent (7%) permanent impairment rating. Employer then sought an independent medical evaluation from a physician chosen from the Medical Impairment Registry (“MIR”). The MIR physician assigned a two percent (2%) permanent impairment rating. The trial court adopted the seven percent (7%) permanent impairment rating and awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on a multiplier of three, having determined Employee failed to make a meaningful return to work, for an award of 21% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The court further awarded 104 weeks of temporary total disability benefits and certain discretionary costs. Employer has appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in adopting the rating of Employee’s IME physician rather than the MIR physician’s rating; in determining Employee did not make a meaningful return to work; in awarding extended temporary total disability benefits; and in awarding Employee his discretionary costs. 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. Following our review of the trial court’s judgment and the record on appeal, we modify in part, affirm in part, and reverse in part.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 07/29/20
State of Tennessee v. Amanda Faye Layne
M2019-01180-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

Defendant, Amanda Faye Layne, was convicted by a jury of simple possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in limiting cross-examination of the arresting officer regarding a pretrial statement, that the State committed improper prosecutorial argument in closing argument, and cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/20
Samuel Jace England v. Amber Leigh Lowry
E2019-01660-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge Brett A. York

A husband and wife were divorced after three years of marriage. The trial court divided the marital assets and debts and designated the husband as the primary residential parent. The wife appeals the court’s finding of transmutation and designation of the husband as the primary residential parent, and both parties challenge aspects of the division of property. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all respects.

Cumberland County Court of Appeals 07/29/20
City of Memphis v. John Pritchard
W2019-01557-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Yoland R. Kight

The City of Memphis appeals the dismissal of a parking ticket issued by the staff of the Downtown Memphis Commission. The City argues that the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment against it based on a wrongful interpretation of the authority delegated by city ordinances. Additionally, The City argues that genuine issues of material fact remained that prevented summary judgment and contends that the circuit court erred in not granting a motion to alter or amend its order. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/29/20
State of Tennessee v. Carroll Dean Yocum
M2019-01174-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Carroll Dean Yocum (“Defendant”) appeals the trial court’s full revocation of his probationary sentence and the imposition of his sentence in confinement. Defendant claims the trial court abused its discretion and argues his probation should be reinstated. Following a thorough review, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/20
Mitzi Sue Garner v. Robert Allen Garner
E2019-01420-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Marie Williams

This appeal arises from a long-running divorce case. In 2009, Mitzi Sue Garner (“Wife”) sued Robert Allen Garner (“Husband”) for divorce in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). The matter was tried in 2010. An appeal to this Court was dismissed in 2012 for lack of a final order. In 2019, a final order at last was entered. Husband appeals. Husband raises several issues, including whether the Trial Court erred in its valuation of certain marital property, in determining his income for purposes of child support and temporary alimony, as well as in granting Wife an award of transitional alimony to secure certain marital debts assigned to Husband. We discern no reversible error. However, we modify the Trial Court’s characterization of Husband’s marital debt obligations from transitional alimony to alimony in solido. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court as modified.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 07/29/20
Candice Mosby v. Fayette County Board of Education, et al.
W2019-01851-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Martha B. Brasfield

This case involves a challenge to a decision to non-renew the employment of a non-tenured teacher. The plaintiff brought suit challenging her non-renewal on the basis that she did not receive six required observations per school year. In her complaint, the plaintiff challenged the non-renewal decision itself, stating it was procedurally flawed, and alleged the director improperly delegated the decision. After the plaintiff presented her proof at trial, the defendants moved for an involuntary dismissal. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. We affirm the trial court’s decision to dismiss the case and remand.

Fayette County Court of Appeals 07/29/20
In Re K.L.E. Et Al.
E2019-02207-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John C. Rambo

A mother and her husband petitioned to terminate the parental rights of the father of two of the mother’s children. The mother and father of the children were married when the children were born. The father was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment when the children were six months and two years old. The mother subsequently divorced the father and married another man who now is interested in adopting the two children. The trial court terminated the father’s rights, and the father appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment terminating the father’s rights.

Washington County Court of Appeals 07/29/20
State of Tennessee v. Mark Steven Treuchet
E2019-00663-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge. D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The Defendant, Mark Steven Treuchet, was convicted after a jury trial of second degree murder, a Class A felony, and sentenced to seventeen years, six months’ incarceration. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred by denying his motion to disqualify the district attorney’s office; (2) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; (3) the court erred by excluding police testimony regarding the victim’s state of mind; (4) the court erred by admitting a portion of the Defendant’s police statement referring to a prior bad act; and (5) the court erred by giving a jury instruction on transferred intent and by declining to give jury instructions on private arrest and defense of a business. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/20
State of Tennessee v. Yancey Lee Williams, II
M2019-00091-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen

The Defendant, Yancey Lee Williams II, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, specifically, challenging the element of premeditation; (2) the trial court erred by finding that he was engaged in unlawful activity and thereby omitting the “no duty to retreat” language from the self-defense instruction; (3) the prosecutor made improper and inflammatory comments regarding religion and race during closing arguments; and (4) plain error occurred when the State failed to provide pretrial documentation of a witness’s statement to law enforcement despite an order being in place directing such disclosure. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/20
State of Tennessee v. Josiah Nixon
M2019-00912-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne M. Lockert-Mash

The Defendant, Josiah Nixon, was convicted by a Houston County Circuit Court jury of sale of methamphetamine, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-434 (2018). He received a sentence of six years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence does not support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred in allowing a “still-frame” image from a video recording into evidence, and (3) the trial court erred by sentencing the Defendant to six years’ confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/20
State of Tennessee v. Warren Smith
W2019-01882-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer J. Mitchell

The Defendant, Warren Smith, was convicted by a jury of sexual battery, for which he received a three-year sentence as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction because the victim’s testimony was incredible and the State failed to establish that the touching was intentional and committed for a sexual purpose. After review, we conclude that the trial court committed reversible error in constructively amending the indictment in its charge to the jury and that the Defendant’s conviction must be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/20
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Jason Qualls
W2019-01083-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

A McNairy County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Joseph Jason Qualls, of aggravated sexual battery and three counts of violating the sex offender registry, for which he received an effective sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction of aggravated sexual battery. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/20
State of Tennessee v. Gary Campbell
W2019-00626-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

The State appeals as of right from the trial court’s order dismissing the indictment against the Defendant, Gary Campbell. See Tenn. R. App. P. 3(c)(1); State v. Meeks, 262 S.W.3d 710, 721 (Tenn. 2008). Campbell was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1003. Campbell filed a motion to suppress, claiming that the search warrant affidavit failed to establish probable cause for the search of his residence. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the motion to suppress and dismissed Campbell’s indictment. On appeal, the State argues that the trial court erred in granting the suppression motion and in dismissing the indictment because (1) the affidavit in support of the search warrant for Campbell’s property was sufficient to establish probable cause and (2) exigent circumstances supported the search. After carefully reviewing the record and the applicable law, we reverse the order of the trial court granting the motion to suppress, vacate the order dismissing the indictment, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/20
Kenneth Brian Coates v. Tyson Foods, Inc.
W2019-00904-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael M. Maloan

Kenneth Brian Coates (“Employee”) worked as a feed mill supervisor for Tyson Foods, Inc. (“Employer”). On June 6, 2013, Employee was using a sledge hammer to help unload soybean meal from a railcar when he started to feel pain in his elbows. Employee sought treatment with his family physician, who diagnosed him with tennis elbow in both arms, and informed him that his symptoms may resolve. On December 23, 2014, Employee met with an orthopedic surgeon who recommended surgery. The surgery was performed on Employee’s right elbow in January 2015 and on his left elbow in March 2015. Employee did not miss any work related to his injury until the date of his first surgery. Employee did not return to work for Employer following his surgeries. Employee filed a Request for a Benefit Review Conference with the Tennessee Department of Labor, which resulted in an impasse. Employee brought suit, and the trial court awarded him back temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. Relevant to the issues on appeal, the trial court determined that Employee’s claim was timely filed and that he did not have a meaningful return to work. Employer has appealed. 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 affirm the judgment.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 07/28/20
William A. Reese, Jr. v. Dominick Amari
M2019-00329-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clara W. Byrd

This is an action to revive a judgment originally entered in 1987; the judgment debtor moved to have the judgment set aside, contending that the judgment was void. The trial court denied the motion and renewed the judgment; the judgment debtor appeals. Upon our review, we conclude that the record shows that the debtor answered the complaint but failed to appear at the trial, which proceeded in his absence and led to the judgment; consequently, the judgment was valid. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to set aside the judgment.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 07/28/20
Herbert Moncier v. Timothy Wheeler
E2020-00943-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis

Petitioner appeals the denial of his motion to recuse the trial court in an attorney’s fees lawsuit. Because the Petitioner failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of Rule 10B of the Rules of Tennessee Supreme Court, we affirm the trial court’s ruling.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/28/20
State of Tennessee v. John Kelly Gross
M2019-01449-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

John Kelly Gross, Defendant, was convicted following a bench trial of one count of aggravated burglary and one count of vandalism. As a result, Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of six years. Defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction for aggravated burglary. After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/20
Demarkus Taylor v. State of Tennessee
M2019-02020-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Petitioner, Demarkus Taylor, appeals from the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal of his post-conviction petition as untimely. After reviewing the record and applicable case law, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/20
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Ward
M2019-00852-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

A jury convicted the Defendant, Jeremy Ward, of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, employment of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit aggravated burglary, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence regarding identity was insufficient to support the conclusion that he was the culprit, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the victim’s show-up identification, and that the trial court erred in denying relief when the State produced discovery mid-trial. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/20
State of Tennessee v. Jamarcus Miller
W2019-01701-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Defendant, Jamarcus Miller, was indicted by a Shelby County grand jury for first-degree premeditated murder (Count 1) and
first-degree felony murder for a killing in the perpetration of attempted robbery (Count 2). A jury convicted Defendant of the
lesser-included offense of second-degree murder in Count 1, and convicted Defendant as charged in Count 2. On appeal, Defendant argues the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction in Count 2. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/20
State of Tennessee v. Marvin Glenn Borden
W2019-00534-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

Defendant, Marvin Glenn Borden, was charged with one count of possession of more than 0.5 gram of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, which was denied by the trial court. Thereafter, Defendant pled guilty to the possession of methamphetamine charge with an agreed four-year sentence as a Range I offender to be served in confinement. The State dismissed the drug paraphernalia charge. Defendant reserved a certified question of law under Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, challenging the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Weakley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/20