Court Opinions

Format: 06/22/2017
Format: 06/22/2017
Tennessee Firearms Association, et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee
M2016-01782-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carol L. McCoy

This appeal involves an attempt to challenge the legality of a gun show ban that was adopted for the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The trial court dismissed the complaint on numerous alternative grounds. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Kaylecia Woodard
E2016-00676-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Sword

The defendant, Kaylecia Woodard, appeals her Knox County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated robbery, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction and that the criminal gang enhancement statute, which was applied to enhance her sentence, is unconstitutional. We discern no infirmity relative to the guilt phase of the defendant’s trial and affirm the defendant’s conviction of aggravated robbery. Because, as this court has now repeatedly concluded, that portion of the criminal gang enhancement statute used to enhance the defendant’s sentence is unconstitutional, we vacate the criminal gang enhancement and the 15-year sentence, modify the judgment to reflect a Class B felony conviction of aggravated robbery, and remand the case for resentencing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/15/17
Michelle Dawn Shoemaker v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01146-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

A Jackson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Petitioner, Michelle Dawn Shoemaker, of first degree premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder, solicitation of first degree premeditated murder, and tampering with evidence, and she received an effective life sentence. Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, alleging newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit from a co-conspirator, who was also the Petitioner’s mother, stating that the Petitioner was not involved in the victim’s death. The coram nobis court summarily denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Jackson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Frost
M2015-02283-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

A Rutherford County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Brandon Frost, of two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of attempted aggravated robbery.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions, contending that he did not demand money or property from the attempted aggravated robbery victim and that his confinement of the kidnapping victims was incidental to the robbery offenses.  The Appellant also contends that the trial court erred by failing to consider mitigating factors when determining the length of his sentences and by failing to grant alternative sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/17
In Re Estate of Bessie Adcock Bingham
M2016-01186-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James B. Cox

This appeal arises from the probate administration of an estate. The principal issues concern a certificate of deposit and the trial court’s approval of attorney fees paid from the estate to the estate’s first attorney. The trial court awarded the certificate of deposit to the decedent’s son, finding that the certificate of deposit passed to the son as the surviving joint tenant. With respect to attorney fees paid to estate’s first attorney, the trial court approved fees in the amount of $12,400 and disapproved fees in the amount of $7,600. The decedent’s daughter appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Bedford County Court of Appeals 06/13/17
Church of The First Born Of Tennessee, Inc. v. Tom Slagle, et al.
M2014-01605-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Charles K. Smith

A dispute among members of a church arose over control of the church. One group of members incorporated and then filed suit against individual members of the church seeking to quite title to certain real property. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. In granting the individual church members’ motion and denying the corporation’s motion, the trial court found the church to be congregationally governed with a clear and established practice for handling real property transactions. We conclude that the corporation lacked standing to bring the action and that the corporation’s case should be dismissed on that basis. Therefore, we reverse.  

Trousdale County Court of Appeals 06/13/17
Sonya C. Franklin Sardon v. Troy Eugene Sardon
M2015-01672-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

Post-divorce proceeding wherein Mother petitioned the court for a modification of the parenting plan and to increase Father’s child support obligation; following a hearing, the court granted her petition. Father appeals the upward deviation to his basic support obligation to pay a portion of the children’s extracurricular activities, the failure to give Father credit for additional funds he paid Mother each month, and the award of attorney’s fees to Mother. Upon consideration of the record, we discern no error and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/13/17
Emmanuel Bibb Houston v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00467-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest Durard

The petitioner, Emmanuel Bibb Houston, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2013 Bedford County Circuit Court jury convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/13/17
Knox County, Tennessee, et al. v. Delinquent Taxpayers, et al.
E2016-01750-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John F. Weaver

This case involves an attempt by Omer G. Kennedy and Angela Helms (landowners) to exercise their right of redemption with respect to their property sold at a delinquent tax sale. Jon Johnson (tax sale purchaser) bought the property on January 13, 2015. Within the one-year redemption period, landowners paid $37,892.81, the amount they thought was required to redeem the property. Tax sale purchaser filed a motion for additional funds, consisting of payments he had made for insurance on the property and interest, under Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-2701 (Supp. 2016). The trial court granted the motion in an order entered January 11, 2016. The order gave landowners 30 days to pay the additional amount. Because notice of the order was not sent to their last known address, landowners did not receive the notice until after the 30 days had passed. They paid the additional amount of $5,869.43 on February 18, 2016. Tax sale purchaser moved the court to deny the redemption, arguing that the payment was not timely. The trial court denied the motion, holding that its order of January 11, 2016, was void because it was not effectively entered under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 58. and not effectively served under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 5. Alternatively, the trial court ruled that landowners were entitled to relief for excusable neglect under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60. Tax sale purchaser appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 06/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Nickelle Jackson
W2016-01495-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Appellant, Nickelle Jackson, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert Page
W2016-01524-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Pro se petitioner, Robert Page, appeals the summary dismissal of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence by the Criminal Court of Shelby County. In this appeal, the petitioner claims his original sentence is illegal because the trial court “increased his sentence beyond the presumptive sentence” in violation of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), and its progeny. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Leon Moore
W2016-01442-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The pro se Appellant, Anthony Leon Moore, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his motion to correct illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the lower court's denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Because the Appellant has failed to establish that his sentences are illegal, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken. Accordingly, we affirm the summary dismissal of the motion.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/12/17
Michael G. Breakey, et al. v. Sequatchie County, Tennessee, et al.
M2016-01504-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey F. Stewart
Appellees/taxpayers filed suit against Sequatchie County, seeking to set aside the tax sale of their property. As grounds, Appellees alleged that they were not afforded due process and were never notified of the delinquent tax action. The trial court ruled in favor of the taxpayers and set aside the tax sale due to lack of notice sufficient to provide due process. Sequatchie County appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 
Sequatchie County Court of Appeals 06/12/17
In Re P.T.F.
E2016-01077-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

In this termination of parental rights case, the Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of T.W.B. (mother) with respect to her child, P.T.F. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence of two grounds supporting termination. By the same quantum of proof, the trial court held that termination of mother’s parental rights is in the best interest of the child. Mother appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 06/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Kelly Renea Dubois
M2016-00923-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

In 2015, the Defendant, Kelly Renea Dubois, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of property, with the value of the property to be determined by the trial court, and to three counts of forgery, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of her sentence. At sentencing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of nine years and six months in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly sentenced her for a Class C felony theft because there was insufficient evidence to support the value determined, and that the trial court erred when it denied her request for an alternative sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Jamie Jones
W2016-00491-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, Jamie Jones, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of felony murder and aggravated child abuse, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to recuse, by permitting the State to amend the indictment, by admitting certain evidence at trial, and that the cumulative effects of these errors prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Gary Carr
W2016-01525-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

On March 13, 1998, the petitioner, Gary Carr, entered a guilty plea to first-degree murder and received a sentence of life without parole. He did not file any post-judgment appeals. Eighteen years later, the petitioner, acting pro se, filed a motion entitled “Motion for Nunc Pro Tunc Order,” alleging, inter alia, that his conviction should be set aside and a new trial ordered because (1) the court clerk failed to enter or stamp-file his judgment of conviction in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e); and (2) he entered an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea based on threats that he would receive the death penalty. The Shelby County Criminal Court summarily dismissed his motion, and the petitioner now appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Brandon D. Washington
W2016-00413-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The defendant, Brandon D. Washington, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The basis for the defendant’s appeal is the trial court’s alleged failure to accurately apply pretrial jail credits and other credits. Following our review, we conclude that the defendant failed to state a colorable claim and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/17
Mack Transou v. Blair Leiback, Warden
M2016-01147-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

Petitioner, Mack Transou, appeals the summary dismissal of his fifth pro se petition for habeas corpus relief. In 1999, Petitioner pleaded guilty to driving after being declared a habitual motor vehicle offender and was subsequently incarcerated. Based on a blood sample taken from Petitioner as part of the intake process, Petitioner was later convicted, in two separate cases, of two counts of rape, one count of sexual battery, and one count of aggravated burglary. In this appeal, Petitioner argues that the habeas corpus court erred in summarily dismissing his petition. Following a review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner is collaterally estopped from challenging the validity of his blood draw. None of Petitioner’s other claims state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief. Accordingly, we affirm the court’s denial of relief.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Taboris Jones
M2015-02515-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

Defendant, Taboris Jones, was convicted of possession with intent to sell more than 0.5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, and the trial court applied the Drug Free School Zone Act (the Act) to enhance Defendant’s sentence. Defendant also pleaded guilty to simple possession of marijuana and improper display of registered license plate. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of fifteen years for the cocaine charge, and ten days for simple possession of marijuana. The trial court also imposed a $250.00 fine for the marijuana charge and a $5.00 fee for improper display of a license plate. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a school and that the Drug Free School Zone Act should not apply to his cocaine conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/17
Rhonda Sue Griffis Grubb v. James Wesley Grubb
E2016-01851-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Frank V. Williams, III

This appeal arises from a divorce. Rhonda Sue Griffis Grubb (“Wife”) filed for divorce against husband James Wesley Grubb (“Husband”) in the Chancery Court for Roane County (“the Trial Court”). Trial in this matter was bifurcated. The validity of the parties’ antenuptial agreement (“the Agreement”) was tried first. The Trial Court found that the provision in the Agreement purporting to cap Wife’s alimony was unenforceable but otherwise upheld the Agreement. Later, trial was conducted on the remaining issues in the case. Citing her adultery and a clause in the Agreement, the Trial Court declined to grant Wife alimony. However, the Trial Court awarded Wife a substantial portion of the marital estate. The Trial Court also ruled upon child support, parenting time, and education for the parties’ two daughters. Husband appealed to this Court raising numerous issues. Wife raised additional issues of her own. We find and hold that Husband failed to carry his burden as to the validity of the Agreement. As to the second stage of this bifurcated matter, we find that the Trial Court’s final judgment is devoid of factual findings to such a degree that we cannot effectively review the remaining issues in this case. We reverse as to the validity of the Agreement. We vacate and remand for further proceedings as necessary and for entry of a new final judgment containing detailed factual findings and conclusions of law as to the remaining issues.

Roane County Court of Appeals 06/09/17
State ex rel. Appaloosa Bay, LLC et al. v. Johnson County, Tennessee, et al.
E2016-01163-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John C. Rambo

Two owners of separate lots in a planned residential subdivision of twenty lots brought this action against the Johnson County Regional Planning Commission and several state entities after the subdivision’s developer went into bankruptcy and development of the subdivision was halted. When the developer had earlier posted a performance bond securing the completion of the subdivision’s infrastructure, the planning commission had approved the subdivision plat, although infrastructure, including roads and utilities, had not been completed. After developer’s bankruptcy, the State of Tennessee bought the land comprising all of the subdivision lots, except the two owned by the plaintiffs. All of the remaining land in the intended subdivision, except for several other lots purchased by individuals before the bankruptcy, is now part of the Doe Mountain Recreation Area — an entity subsequently created by the State. Plaintiffs brought this action for breach of contract between developer and the planning commission. Plaintiffs also asked the trial court to issue a writ of mandamus compelling the county to complete the proposed subdivision infrastructure. The trial court granted the defendants summary judgment. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 06/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Adarius Dewayne Garth
E2016-00931-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

Defendant, Adarius Dewayne Garth, was indicted by the Hamilton County Grand Jury for two counts of attempted first degree murder, domestic aggravated assault, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Defendant entered an “open” guilty plea to the lesser-included offense of reckless aggravated assault, and the remaining charges were dismissed on motion by the State. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to four years’ incarceration as a Range I offender. Defendant appeals the length and manner of service of his sentence. Following a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Tony Arthur Swann
E2015-01516-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Petitioner, Tony Arthur Swann, appeals from the denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct a clerical error due to the alleged denial of pretrial jail credits and his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion alleging that his sentence is illegal because of a probation revocation order. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s decision.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/17
Jessica Marcel Broadnax v. Quentin Elliott Lawrence
E2016-01176-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge J.B. Bennett

This case is again before this Court after being remanded to the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”) for a determination of whether it was in the best interest of the parties’ minor child (“the Child”) to relocate to New Jersey with Jessica Marcel Broadnax (“Mother”). Mother appeals the Trial Court’s May 5, 2016 order upon remand, which found, inter alia, that it was in the best interest of the Child to remain with Quentin Elliott Lawrence (“Father”) and not to move with Mother to New Jersey. We find and hold that the evidence in the record on appeal does not preponderate against the Trial Court’s findings. Finding no error on the part of the Trial Court, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 06/08/17