Court Opinions

Format: 10/20/2017
Format: 10/20/2017
In Re Brennen T.
M2016-01639-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan, Jr.

This appeal involves the termination of a mother and father’s parental rights to their minor child.  Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of each parent’s parental rights on the statutory groundof abandonment for failure to remit child support.  The court further found that termination of each parent’s rights was in the best interest of the child.  The parents appeal.  We affirm. 

Robertson County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Jonah Paul Anders v. Mayla Anders
W2016-02561-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Raymond Hunter, Jr. v. City Of Chattanooga Beer Board
E2017-00017-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Pamela A. Fleenor

The petitioner seeks reversal of the denial of a beer permit by the city. City’s board asserts that the property is unsuitable for a beer permit as it has lost its zoning status as a “grandfathered in” restaurant, bar, or event hall. The trial court affirmed the board’s action. The petitioner filed this appeal. The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider it. We vacate the trial court’s order and dismiss this case.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Bradley Jetmore v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee
M2016-01792-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
A petitioner seeking to inspect and obtain copies of traffic accident reports prepared by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (“MNPD”) “promptly,” as required by the Tennessee Public Records Act (“TPRA” or “the Act”), filed a petition for injunctive relief. The trial court granted the petitioner the relief requested, and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Donnie Trammell, et al. v. D'eddrick Peoples, et al.
M2016-02198-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones
This is a negligence action concerning injuries sustained from an accident. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. We reverse.
 
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
In Re Estate of Marjorie Ross Potter
W2016-01809-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Karen D. Webster

Beneficiary of decedent’s estate appeals the judgment holding that the executor did not breach his fiduciary duty in administering the estate and the award of a fee to the executor. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the decision of the Probate Court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
Estate of Evelyn Sample v. Life Care Centers Of America, Inc., Et Al.
E2017-00687-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael S. Pemberton

The Estate of Evelyn Sample (“the Estate”) appeals the March 13, 2017 order of the Circuit Court for Bradley County (“the Trial Court”) granting summary judgment to Life Care Centers of America, Inc. and Life Care Center of Cleveland (collectively “Life Care”) in this health care liability action. We find and hold that Life Care made a properly supported motion for summary judgment negating an essential element of the Estate’s claim, i.e., causation, and that the Estate failed to produce evidence showing a genuine issue of material fact. We, therefore, affirm the grant of summary judgment to Life Care.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
William August Lockler, III v. Pamela Michelle Barr Lockler
E2016-02308-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Eddie Lauderback

This case involves the interpretation of a divorce judgment. William August Lockler, III, and Pamela Michelle Barr Lockler were married on January 3, 2002, and divorced on September 6, 2007. In its judgment, the original trial judge, the Honorable Jean A. Stanley, ordered that “If [wife] is entitled under federal law to receive any portion of [husband’s] military retirement benefits[,] then she is awarded one-half (1/2) of those benefits earned during the parties’ marriage.” After husband retired from military service in December 2014, wife filed a petition on February 20, 2015 to reopen the divorce judgment. She sought one-half of husband’s military retirement that had accrued during their marriage. The trial court granted wife’s petition, holding that Judge Stanley awarded wife a portion of husband’s military retirement benefits. Husband appeals, arguing that wife is not entitled to a portion of his benefits because she is only eligible to receive the benefits under federal law and does not have a right to them. We hold that the trial court correctly concluded that the original trial judge intended to award wife onehalf of husband’s military retirement that accrued during their marriage. Accordingly, we affirm.

Washington County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
Jesus Vidal Rodriguez, et al. v. Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC, et al.
M2013-01970-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

This is an appeal from a jury verdict in favor of the defendants in a products liability action arising out of a deadly vehicle crash in Mexico. The accident was allegedly caused by a separation of the tire tread and resulting blow-out and vehicle rollover. The decedent’s son, daughter, and mother brought suit against the manufacturers of the tire and SUV. The case went to trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs appeal an instruction the court gave the jury on contributory negligence and several evidentiary rulings. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/10/17
Gary Wayne Garrett v. Tennessee Board of Parole
M2016-01738-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

This appeal involves an incarcerated inmate’s filing of a petition for writ of certiorari, claiming that the Tennessee Board of Parole acted arbitrarily and without material evidence in denying his request for parole. The respondent filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the time for filing such a petition had passed. The trial court dismissed the petition as untimely. The petitioner appeals. We reverse and remand for further hearing.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Scottie Lee Mofield
M2016-02364-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Scottie Lee Mofield, was found guilty by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-102 (2014) (amended 2015, 2016, 2017).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to eight years’ confinement and ordered his sentence to be served consecutively to a sentence in an unrelated case.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred (1) during sentencing and (2) by denying his motion for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.  

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/10/17
Marquize Berry v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02344-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Marquize Berry, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing trial counsel’s failure to file a pre-trial motion regarding video evidence of the crime pursuant to State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d. 912 (Tenn. 1999), was ineffective. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/10/17
Johnny Moffitt v. Orbin McPeake, et al.
W2016-01706-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A man convicted of aggravated assault filed suit for malicious prosecution against the other three persons involved in the altercation that led to his conviction. The trial court determined that the statute of limitations had run on the malicious prosecution claim. We affirm on a different ground: the plaintiff has no claim for malicious prosecution because the aggravated assault case has not been terminated in his favor.

Henderson County Court of Appeals 10/10/17
Arium Shelby Farms v. Nedra Drayton
W2016-01450-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Montrekus Lamon Tiller
W2017-00093-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

Defendant, Montrekus Lamon Tiller, was convicted of aggravated assault. He received a sentence of six years’ incarceration to be suspended after 350 days. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After review, we find that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/17
State of Tennessee v. John Brichetto
E2017-01033-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers

The pro se appellant appeals as of right from the Morgan County Criminal Court's order denying post-judgment motions filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure "36 et seq." The trial court summarily denied the pleadings based upon the pro se appellant's earlier execution of a waiver of all direct, post-conviction, and collateral challenges to the conviction, in exchange for his codefendant-wife's receiving a more lenient sentence. Because this court has twice ruled that the waiver was knowingly and voluntarily entered, we sua sponte affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Tennessee Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Richard Adrian Vaughn
E2016-02357-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Defendant, Richard Adrian Vaughn, pleaded guilty to one count of hindering a secured creditor, one count of writing a worthless check, and four counts of theft. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve an agreed upon five-year sentence, suspended to six years of probation. In December 2015 and May 2016, probation violation reports were filed with the trial court based upon multiple alleged violations. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation for absconding and testing positive for drugs. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his probation. We affirm the trial court’s revocation.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/17
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Hunter Bargery
W2016-00893-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Joshua Hunter Bargery (“the Defendant”) appeals his Lake County Circuit Court convictions for two counts of first degree felony murder and two counts of especially aggravated robbery, for which he received a total effective sentence of two consecutive life sentences. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution were violated by the trial court’s denial of his motions to suppress evidence obtained during the search of the Defendant and his automobile; (2) the trial court erroneously excluded as hearsay the Defendant’s testimony regarding statements made by Mr. Hill, Mr. Hernandez, and “the three Mexicans”; (3) the trial court erred in excluding relevant and material testimony from the Defendant’s crime scene expert; (4) the Defendant is entitled to a new trial based on prosecutorial misconduct; (5) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment based on law enforcement’s intentional destruction of exculpatory evidence; (6) the Defendant’s due process rights were violated by the State’s failure to disclose Mr. Hernandez’s complete criminal record and the State’s agreement not to treat him as a “suspect”; (7) the trial court erred by admitting a copy of a letter written by the Defendant, which was not produced by the State during discovery; (8) the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury; (9) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (10) the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences; (11) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion for recusal; (12) the Defendant is entitled to a new trial based on violations of the trial court’s order of sequestration; and (13) cumulative error deprived the Defendant of due process and a fair trial. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand for a new trial.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/17
Stephen Nathan Clark, II v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01209-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Stephen Nathan Clark, II, was indicted in case number 2011-D-2935 by the Davidson County Grand Jury for conspiracy to sell 300 pounds or more of marijuana and 300 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone. Petitioner was subsequently indicted in case number 2012-A-24 for possession with intent to sell or deliver not less than 0.5 ounces nor more than 10 pounds of marijuana in a drug-free school zone and possession with intent to sell or deliver 26 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone. Petitioner entered guilty pleas in both cases to conspiracy to sell 26 grams or more of cocaine and possession with intent to deliver 26 grams or more of cocaine. Petitioner agreed to serve 13 years in confinement as a multiple offender. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and after review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/17
Jerry L. Lawrence, Et Al. v. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority, Et Al.
E2016-2169-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ward Jeffrey Hollingsworth

This appeal involves an employment discrimination and retaliation lawsuit initiated by former employees of a hospital’s Security Services Department. The trial court granted summary judgment to the hospital defendants on all claims, holding that plaintiff employees had failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation. The employees appeal. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/06/17
Tyler James Schaeffer v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01614-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

This case should serve as a cautionary tale for any prosecutor, defense attorney, or trial court who attempts to negotiate or accept a guilty plea involving concurrent state and federal sentencing. Petitioner, Tyler James Schaeffer, pled guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, nine counts of vehicular assault, and one count of possession of a controlled substance analogue. He received an effective sentence of forty years to be served concurrently with a separate 100-year federal sentence. Now, Petitioner appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to retain a mental health expert, failure to request a change of venue, failure to properly investigate potential witnesses, and failure to adequately explain concurrent state and federal sentencing. The State concedes that Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel based on the sentencing issue alone. Following our review of the record and submissions of the parties, the majority concludes that Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/17
State of Tennessee v. Bennie Edward Jackson, Jr. a/k/a Benny E. Jackson, Jr.
M2016-02575-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn
A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Bennie Edward Jackson, Jr., of aggravated assault, and the trial court sentenced him to serve eight years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) he was subject to an unfair trial because the jury pool heard substantially prejudicial comments during voir dire; and (3) a State’s witness presented inflammatory and substantially prejudicial testimony to the jury that should have been prohibited. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Dexter Dewayne Alcorn
M2016-01678-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III
The pro se Defendant, Dexter Dewayne Alcorn, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas. The notice of appeal was not timely filed, and, accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.
 
Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Terrell Shipp
M2016-01397-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The Defendant, Christopher Terrell Shipp, was convicted by a jury of one count of criminally negligent homicide, one count of felony murder, two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, and one count of attempted second degree murder, and he received an aggregate sentence of life in prison. The surviving victim of the crimes identified the Defendant as the perpetrator during her testimony at the preliminary hearing, but she died of natural causes prior to trial. The recorded testimony from the preliminary hearing was used to establish the identity of the Defendant at trial. The Defendant appeals his convictions, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to uphold the verdicts and that the victim’s testimony was admitted in error because at the time of the preliminary hearing, he had not had access to a police report which could have impeached her testimony. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to uphold the verdicts and that the testimony was properly admitted, and we affirm the trial court’s judgments. We remand for merger of the criminally negligent homicide conviction into the felony murder conviction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/17
In Re Estate of William C. Link
M2016-02202-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge Ben Cantrell

Plaintiff, the successor administrator for the decedent’s estate, brought a negligence suit against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County based on the probate clerk’s failure to cite the prior administrator in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 30-2-602. Following the Metropolitan Government’s filing of a motion for summary judgment, the trial court concluded that the asserted claims were barred by the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act’s one-year statute of limitations. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse.   

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/05/17