Court Opinions

Format: 01/22/2018
Format: 01/22/2018
Eric Dewayne Wallace v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00690-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Eric Dewayne Wallace, Petitioner, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus claiming that he was being illegally detained because his fifteen-year sentence for attempted first degree murder, which was ordered to be served consecutively to his life sentence for felony murder, has expired. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition. We affirm.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Shelton Stone Goss
W2016-01227-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Defendant, Shelton Stone Goss, was convicted by a Tipton County Jury of attempted  second degree murder, aggravated burglary, five counts of burglary of a vehicle, two counts of theft under $500, one count of theft over $500, one count of theft over $1,000, employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony to wit: attempted second degree murder of Joshua Halleron, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony: to wit: aggravated burglary of the Halleron residence. He received an effective fourteen-year sentence to be served in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Trevor H. Taylor
E2016-01920-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge T. Woodall, Presiding Judge
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Trevor H. Taylor, pled guilty to three separate sales of cocaine. Corresponding guilty pleas to delivery of cocaine were merged with the sale of cocaine convictions. The negotiated plea agreement set a sentence of three years for each conviction, to be served concurrently with each other for an effective sentence of three years. The manner of service of the sentence was left to the determination of the trial court at a separate sentencing hearing. The trial court ordered the entire sentence to be served by incarceration. Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by denying “probation or other appropriate alternative sentencing.” After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/22/17
In Re: Brianna T. Et Al.
E2017-01130-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

Father appeals from the termination of his parental rights to his four children. Father, who did not attend the final hearing, stipulated through counsel that a statutory ground existed for termination of his parental rights and that termination was in the children’s best interest. The juvenile court terminated Father’s parental rights based on his stipulation and the proof offered by DCS. Despite the stipulation, we conclude that there was clear and convincing evidence of a statutory ground for termination but not for the finding that termination was in the children’s best interest. Thus, we reverse the termination of Father’s parental rights and remand for entry of a judgment dismissing the petition.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/22/17
In Re: Brianna T. Et Al.
E2017-01132-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

Mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights to her four children. Mother, who did not attend the final hearing, stipulated through counsel that a statutory ground existed for termination of her parental rights and that termination was in the children’s best interest. The juvenile court terminated Mother’s parental rights based on her stipulation and the proof offered by DCS. Despite the stipulation, we conclude that there was clear and convincing evidence of a statutory ground for termination but not for the finding that termination was in the children’s best interest. Thus, we reverse the termination of Mother’s parental rights and remand for entry of a judgment dismissing the petition.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Daniel S. Sharp
E207-00614-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

The Defendant, Daniel S. Sharp, appeals from the Blount County Circuit Court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence for his convictions for three counts of aggravated assault and one count of robbery. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his community corrections sentence and by ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective ten-year sentence in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Torry Holland
W2017-00691-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, Torry Holland, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his convictions of drug and firearms possession. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court’s order of summary dismissal. Although we affirm the order dismissing the defendant’s motion, we do notice a clerical error in the judgment form for count 3 in case number 12-00532 that requires entry of a corrected judgment in that count.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/21/17
Shaun Tailaferro v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00138-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The petitioner, Shaun Taliaferro, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2013 Haywood County Criminal Court jury convictions of second degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, for which he received an effective sentence of 44 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Haywood County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/21/17
Ricky L. Boren, et al. v. Hill Boren, PC, et al.
W2017-02255-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

This is an accelerated interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, from the trial court’s denial of a motion for recusal. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal, pursuant to the de novo standard as required under Rule 10B, § 2.01, we affirm the trial court’s decision to deny the motion for recusal.

Madison County Court of Appeals 12/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Jermaine Clark
E2017-00616-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

Aaron Jermaine Clark (“the Defendant”) appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and imposition of his sentences, claiming that he should have been granted an alternative sentence so that he could continue his course of drug rehabilitation. After a review of the record and applicable law, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/21/17
Marlon Duane Kiser v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01644-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Petitioner, Marlon Duane Kiser, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief challenging his 2003 first degree murder conviction and resulting death sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that the postconviction court should have granted post-conviction relief based upon allegations of the ineffective assistance of counsel during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial, the original trial judge’s failure to recuse himself for an inappropriate relationship with a victimwitness coordinator, the perjured testimony of a witness, and newly-discovered evidence raising doubt as to his guilt. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Kyle J. Dodd
W2017-00733-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Kyle J. Dodd, was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence (DUI), second offense, a Class A misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 55-10-401, - 402(a)(2). The trial court imposed a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days with fifty days to be served in confinement and the remainder to be served on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statements to the investigating officer and “all evidence derived from” his statements because the officer did not properly inform him of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). However, our review of the record reveals that the Defendant failed to raise this issue in a timely motion for new trial; thereby, waiving full appellate review. Additionally, we conclude that plain error review of the issue is not warranted. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/20/17
Blake Bookstaff v. David Gerregano, Commissioner of Revenue, State of Tennessee
E2017-00763-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

In this action, the Tennessee Department of Revenue (“the Department”) sought to collect unpaid franchise and excise taxes owed by a dissolved corporation from its former shareholder. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the shareholder, determining that the Department could not collect on the assessments originally issued in 2008 and 2009 due to the six-year statute of limitations contained in Tennessee Code Annotated § 67-1-1429. The trial court also determined that the shareholder was not a “person” or “taxpayer” subject to franchise and excise taxes because those taxes are assessed solely against entities such as corporations. Finally, the trial court determined that the shareholder had no personal liability for the taxes owed by the dissolved corporation absent proof of a fraudulent conveyance. The Department timely appealed. Determining that the trial court erred in its construction and application of the applicable tax statutes, we reverse the judgment in favor of the shareholder.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/20/17
Roy D. Cox v. Carolyn Ellen Cox
E2016-01097-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge E.G. Moody

This appeal arises from a combined judgment of divorce and an award of damages in tort. After awarding the husband a divorce, the court classified, valued, and divided the marital property. The court also granted the husband a judgment for compensatory and punitive damages arising from an intentional tort committed by the wife. The wife raises numerous issues on appeal, including the classification of marital property, the equitable division of the marital estate, and the amount of the damages award. Because the court’s order lacks sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law to explain its division of the marital estate or the amount of punitive damages awarded, we vacate those portions of the court’s judgment and remand for entry of an order in compliance with Rule 52.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. In all other respects, we affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 12/20/17
In Re: Ava B.
E2017-00440-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

The parents in this action challenge inter alia, the juvenile court’s decisions regarding calculation of the parents’ income for child support purposes and the modification of the final co-parenting order. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/20/17
James Clark Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00196-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Petitioner, James Clark, Jr., appeals pro se from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. He contends that the coram nobis court erred in dismissing the petition. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/17
Travis Steed v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00156-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Travis Steed (“the Petitioner”) petitioned for post-conviction relief from his convictions of first degree felony murder, second degree murder, felony reckless endangerment, convicted felon in possession of a handgun, and attempted second degree murder. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner claims that he was denied effective assistance of counsel as a result of trial counsel’s failure to interview and call certain witnesses that the Petitioner contends were critical to his defense. After a thorough review of the appellate record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/17
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Glynn McCoy
W2016-01619-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The defendant, Jeffrey Glynn McCoy, appeals the total effective sentence of 12 years imposed for his Gibson County guilty-pleaded convictions of burglary and theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, arguing that the trial court erred by imposing terms of 12 years and by ordering that he serve the effective sentence consecutively to a sentence previously imposed in South Carolina. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/17
State of Tennessee v. Guy Len Biggs
W2016-01781-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

The defendant, Guy Len Biggs, pled guilty to aggravated perjury and fabrication of evidence in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-16-703 and 39-16-503. For his respective crimes, the trial court imposed concurrent sentences of four and five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The trial court ordered the effective five-year sentence to run consecutively to a prior, twelve-year sentence for attempted second degree murder. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion by ordering his present sentences to run consecutively to his prior sentence. The defendant also vaguely challenges the length and manner of service of his sentences for aggravated perjury and fabrication of evidence. Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the defendant’s four and five-year sentences to be served in confinement, consecutively to the twelve-year sentence for attempted second degree murder.

Henry County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/17
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Turner
W2016-02599-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

The Defendant, Kevin Turner, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/17
J.W. Causey v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00470-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, J.W. Causey, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2013 Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree murder, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment. In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/17
Dermon-Warner Properties, LLC v. Steve H. Warner
W2016-02051-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

A member of a limited-liability company withdrew from the company with a deficit in his capital account. The company filed suit against the withdrawing member on the ground that he had an obligation to repay the deficit amount. The withdrawing member filed a counter-complaint arguing that the company was estopped from collecting the debt because the debt had been forgiven. Thereafter, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the withdrawing member’s motion and granted the company’s motion, finding that the withdrawing member failed to prove that the company forgave the debt. The withdrawing member appealed. We affirm the trial court’s decision.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/19/17
C.W.H. v. L.A.S.
E2015-01498-SC-R11-JV
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert D. Philyaw

This is a custody case involving the minor children of unmarried parties. C.W.H. (hereinafter “Father”) and L.A.S. (hereinafter “Mother”) agreed to a modification of an existing parenting plan in 2013. Subsequently, Father learned information to which he was not privy during the settlement conference, namely, that Mother had relocated from her state of residence (Ohio) to Nevada with the parties’ minor children, where she was employed as a prostitute. Father filed a motion for an emergency temporary custody order and a temporary restraining order. Father prevailed in a hearing before the juvenile court magistrate and was designated as the primary residential parent. Mother requested a hearing before the juvenile court. Following a hearing, the juvenile court found a material change in circumstances and upheld the magistrate’s determination. Mother appealed to the Court of Appeals, which vacated and remanded the case for the juvenile court to conduct a best interest analysis. On remand, the juvenile court affirmed its earlier findings regarding a material change in circumstances and, in addition, concluded that changing the primary residential parent from Mother to Father was in the best interest of the children. Mother again appealed to the Court of Appeals, which concluded “that the evidence preponderate[d], in part but significantly, against the juvenile court’s factual findings,” reversed the juvenile court, and mandated that its order be carried out within twenty days. We granted Father’s application for permission to appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 11 to decide, as set forth in Father’s application, whether “the Court of Appeals err[ed] in reversing the [juvenile court] and awarding Mother custody of the minor children” and whether “the Court of Appeals err[ed] in ordering the change in custody prior to an opportunity for the Father to appeal to this Court?” We answer both questions in the affirmative, reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals, and remand this matter to the juvenile court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

Hamilton County Supreme Court 12/19/17
Danny E. Gilliam v. Frances A. Blankenbecler
E2017-00252-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jean A. Stanley

This case involves the dismissal, on the basis of res judicata, of the plaintiff Danny Gilliam’s breach of contract case against the defendant Frances Blankenbecler. In an earlier case involving the same parties, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint based upon his failure to comply with the court’s order to provide discovery responses. The order of dismissal in that first case did not state whether the dismissal was with or without prejudice. After the plaintiff refiled the same case, the trial court dismissed the case on the basis of res judicata. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Washington County Court of Appeals 12/19/17
In Re: Autumn B. - CORRECTED
E2017-00019-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert D. Philyaw

This is a child custody case. Mother appeals the trial court’s determination that Father should be designated as the child’s primary residential parent. Father requests attorney’s fees for defending this appeal. Discerning no error, we affirm the decision of the trial court. This Court deems the appeal frivolous and remands this matter to the juvenile court to determine attorney’s fees and costs to be awarded to Father.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/19/17