Court Opinions

Format: 02/17/2018
Format: 02/17/2018
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Johnson
W2017-00476-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Shelby County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Antonio Johnson, on charges of attempted first degree murder, employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and three counts of aggravated assault; the State later dismissed two of the aggravated assault counts. The jury convicted Defendant of attempted second degree murder, employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. The trial court sentenced Defendant to eleven years for the attempted second degree murder conviction, six years for the aggravated assault conviction, six years for the employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony conviction, and two years for the reckless endangerment conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment to run concurrently with each other and ordered the remaining sentences to run consecutively, for an effective sentence of twenty-three years. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty of attempted second degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred in allowing the admission of testimony regarding Defendant’s past fight with one of the victims; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the admission of a surveillance video; and (4) the trial court erred in ordering partial consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the facts and
law, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Perez
W2016-02483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Campbell

The Defendant, Daniel Perez, was convicted of one count of aggravated robbery. The Defendant argues: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and (2) that the trial court erred in allowing the State to reference witnesses that the Defendant could have produced at trial. Following our review, the judgment is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
David Ivy v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02454-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Petitioner, David Ivy, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis, seeking relief from his conviction of first degree premeditated murder and resulting sentence of death. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred by dismissing his petition, by denying his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, and by denying his writ of error audita querela. In addition, he asks that this court advise him as to the correct pleading to file in order to challenge his death sentence. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the coram nobis court did not err by denying relief, and we decline to provide an advisory opinion regarding future requests for relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Devin Whiteside
W2016-00671-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Appellant, Devin Whiteside, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery, and he received concurrent sentences of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Thereafter, the Appellant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, alleging that after the plea hearing, he obtained information relating to the testimony of two of the State’s witnesses. He maintained that, if he had been provided the information prior to the plea, he would not have pled guilty. The trial court denied the motion, and the Appellant appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
Mary L. Scales v. H. G. Hill Realty Co., LLC, Et Al.
M2017-00906-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones

A customer slipped and fell at a grocery store and sued four different entities that owned and/or operated the store. When two of the defendants filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to respond to discovery responses, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed these defendants from the action. Then, in response to an answer to an amended complaint in which another defendant asserted the comparative fault of the dismissed defendants, the plaintiff filed a second amended complaint adding the dismissed defendants back in as named defendants pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-1-119. The newly added defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted. The plaintiff appealed, and we reverse the trial court’s judgment. We hold that the statute permitted the plaintiff to add the formerly dismissed defendants back into the lawsuit.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/30/18
Eric Bernard Howard v. Turney Center Disciplinary Board, Et Al.
M2017-00230-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

Eric Bernard Howard, an inmate at the Turney Center Industrial Complex, was charged with the disciplinary offense of defiance. The conduct at issue occurred at the institution’s medical clinic. Howard became angry, used profanity, and physically struck clinic property. After a hearing, he was found guilty by “alternate disciplinary officer” Rachel McCauley. Howard filed a petition for common law writ of certiorari with the trial court, alleging that he was denied due process at his hearing. He further asserted that the governing Uniform Disciplinary Procedures of the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) were not followed. He says this resulted in substantial prejudice to him. The trial court found no due process violation, and ruled that any deviation from the Uniform Disciplinary Procedures was minimal and did not result in substantial prejudice. The trial court dismissed the petition. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hickman County Court of Appeals 01/30/18
Andrew "Rome" Withers v. Rosalind D. Withers
W2016-01663-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

This appeal revolves around a pro se litigant’s efforts to assume control of the assets of a trust and to replace the trustee. After the dismissal of his second petition related to the trust, the pro se litigant filed this appeal. We dismiss the appeal for failure to file a brief that complies with the appellate rules. We also grant the trustee’s request for attorney’s fees and expenses incurred on appeal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Smith
E2016-02130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Defendant, Antonio Smith, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury in a multi-count presentment with one count of sale of heroin in a drug-free zone, one count of delivery of heroin in a drug-free zone, three counts of possession of heroin with the intent to sell in a drug-free zone, three counts of possession of heroin with the intent to deliver in a drugfree zone, one count of possession of marijuana, two counts of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, two counts of felon in possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, three counts of felon in possession of a firearm, and four counts of criminal gang enhancement. A codefendant, Heather Montgomery, was also indicted for several offenses. The trial court dismissed the criminal gang enhancement counts prior to trial after the statute was found unconstitutional by this court in State v. Bonds, 502 S.W.3d 118 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2016). Following a jury trial, Defendant was acquitted of the two counts of felon in possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony but found guilty of all other counts as charged. The trial court merged several of the convictions and sentenced Defendant as a career offender to an effective sentence of 72 years. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant initiated this appeal. On appeal Defendant challenges the denial of a pretrial motion to suppress evidence and the sufficiency of the evidence. Having carefully reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
Jerome Lamont Wolley v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01388-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Jerome Lamont Wolley, the Petitioner, appeals from the post-conviction court’s order summarily dismissing his second
post-conviction petition. Discerning no error, we affirm the post-conviction court’s order.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
Mardoche Olivier v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01059-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Mardoche Olivier, was indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury for the offense of driving a vehicle at a time when his license to drive had been canceled, suspended, or revoked. While this charge was pending in Montgomery County Circuit Court, the Defendant filed pro se a petition for habeas corpus relief as to the pending charge. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition and the Defendant has appealed. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the Defendant’s habeas corpus petition, and accordingly the trial court properly summarily dismissed the petition. Because the instant appeal is frivolous and because the Defendant is abusing the appellate process, we order that the Clerk of this Court shall not file any further notices of appeal from the Defendant in habeas corpus matters unless the Defendant attaches to the notice of appeal a copy of the final judgment challenged. We tax the costs to the Defendant.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
In Re Alivia F.
M2016-02328-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ronald Thurman

A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights to her child. The chancery court found clear and convincing evidence of two statutory grounds for termination: abandonment by willful failure to support and persistence of conditions. The court also found that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Because we conclude that the evidence was less than clear and convincing as to each ground for termination, we reverse.    

White County Court of Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Jessie D. McDonald
M2017-01201-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Jessie D. McDonald, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred by summarily dismissing his petition as having been untimely filed and failing to state a cognizable claim. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
Mardoche Olivier v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01056-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Defendant, Mardoche Olivier, was indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury for the offense of driving a vehicle at a time when his license to drive had been canceled, suspended, or revoked. This charge is currently pending in Montgomery County Circuit Court. However, Defendant filed pro se a petition for habeas corpus relief in the trial court as to the pending charge. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition the following day, and Defendant has appealed. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s habeas corpus petition, and accordingly the trial court properly summarily dismissed the petition. We also conclude that because Defendant has filed numerous similar habeas corpus petitions in cases where there is no final judgment to attack and he has repeatedly appealed the dismissals, that this is a frivolous appeal and Defendant is abusing the appellate process. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s summary dismissal of the habeas corpus petition, and order that the Clerk of this Court shall not file any further notices of appeal from Defendant in habeas corpus matters unless Defendant attaches to the notice of appeal a copy of the final judgment challenged in his habeas corpus petition.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Carl Shields
M2017-00870-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

Defendant, Jeffrey Carl Shields, pled guilty to one count of burglary and thirteen counts of forgery in exchange for a total effective sentence of twelve years as a Range II, multiple offender. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve his sentence in incarceration. This appeal followed. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alternative sentence where Defendant was facing additional charges at the time of sentence and previous attempts at alternative sentencing had failed. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
In Re: A'Reeyon L.
E2017-00261-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

This appeal arises out of a delinquency proceeding in Hamilton County Juvenile Court (“juvenile court”). The juvenile was accused of violating his probation by failing to report to his probation officer as required by the rules of his probation. Following a hearing and ruling by the juvenile court, the matter was appealed to the Hamilton County Criminal Court (“trial court”). Upon a bench trial and de novo review, the trial court found that the juvenile had violated his probation by failing to report to his probation officer. The trial court subsequently ordered that the juvenile be committed to the custody of the Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 37-1-131(a)(4). Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Timothy J. Hickman
M2017-00836-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Appellant, Timothy J. Hickman, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Ricardo Antonio Demling
M2017-00140-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

The Bedford County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Ricardo Antonio Demling, for theft of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000. The jury found the Defendant guilty as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years as a Range III persistent offender and ordered this sentence to be served consecutively to any unexpired sentences. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of theft of property between the value of $10,000 and $60,000. He also argues that his sentence was excessive and asks this court to conduct a plain error review of “all objections” and “all issues regarding venue and jurisdiction[.]” After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
In Re Catherine J.
W2017-00491-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge Harold W. Horne

This is a termination of parental rights case involving the parental rights of the father, Clyde J. (“Father”), to his minor child, Catherine J. (“the Child”). On October 27, 2015, the Shelby County Juvenile Court (“trial court”) placed the Child into the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”). The Child was immediately placed in foster care, where she remained at the time of trial. Following a hearing conducted on February 3, 2016, the trial court found the Child to be dependent and neglected as to Father due to improper guardianship. On August 4, 2016, DCS filed a petition to terminate Father’s parental rights. Following a bench trial before a special judge on January 26, 2017, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that Father had abandoned the Child by failing to visit the Child, failing to financially support the Child, and exhibiting wanton disregard for the Child’s welfare prior to his incarceration. The trial court also found clear and convincing evidence that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the best interest of the Child. The trial court entered a final judgment on February 13, 2017, terminating Father’s parental rights to the Child. Father has appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/30/18
Mardoche Olivier v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01057-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R.Goodman III

Defendant, Mardoche Olivier, was indicted for driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license and violating the vehicle registration law. While that charge was pending, Defendant filed pro se a petition for habeas corpus relief, which the trial court summarily denied. After a review of the record, we hold that the trial court correctly dismissed the motion for lack of jurisdiction. Because the present appeal is frivolous and because Defendant is abusing the appellate process, we tax the costs to Defendant and restrict further habeas corpus appeals unless Defendant attaches to his notice of appeal a copy of a final judgment for the challenged conviction.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/29/18
Braylen Bennett v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02276-CCA-R9-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Sword

In this interlocutory appeal, the petitioner, Braylen Bennett, appeals the ruling of the post-conviction court denying his request for discovery materials from the State. We conclude that the plain language of both the Post-Conviction Procedure Act and Rule 28 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court impose upon the State an obligation to provide discovery materials to the petitioner as part of the post-conviction proceeding. We further conclude that the State’s obligation cannot be met by requiring the postconviction petitioner to obtain from his trial counsel those discovery materials disclosed by the State as part of the trial proceeding. Finally, we conclude that, because the postconviction court’s ruling contains insufficient analysis to support its conclusion that none of the disclosures required by Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure are relevant to the claims presented by the petitioner, the case must be remanded for reconsideration of the petitioner’s request in light of the rulings in this opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/29/18
In Re Joel B.
M2016-01370-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sharon Guffee

A trial court designated the father of a child born out of wedlock as the primary residential parent and imputed additional income to the mother for purposes of child support after determining she was underemployed. The mother appealed the trial court’s judgment. During the pendency of the appeal, dependency and neglect proceedings in the trial court resulted in the child’s removal from the father’s residence and his placement with the mother in California. The dependency and neglect proceedings rendered moot the mother’s challenge of the trial court’s designation of the father as the primary residential parent, leaving the imputation of additional income to the mother as the only issue on appeal. Concluding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allocating additional income to the mother for child support purposes, we affirm that aspect of the trial court’s judgment.

Maury County Court of Appeals 01/29/18
Harakas Construction, Inc. v. Metropolitan Government Of Nashville and Davidson County, Et. Al.
M2016-01540-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

Harakas Construction, Inc. appeals the judgment of the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) granting summary judgment to Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) and Dale and Associates, Inc. (“Dale”). We find and hold that the Trial Court correctly granted summary judgment to Metro based upon sovereign immunity and that the Trial Court correctly granted summary judgment to Dale because Dale had negated essential elements of Harakas’s claim. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/29/18
In Re: Ke'Andre C., Et Al.
M2017-01361-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge George L. Lovell

This is a termination of parental rights case concerning two minor children. Mother is the biological parent of both children. Father is the biological parent of the younger child only. The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that multiple grounds existed to terminate Mother’s parental rights to both children and Father’s parental rights to his child. Mother and Father appealed. We reverse the trial court’s finding as to one ground for termination asserted against Mother and one ground asserted against Father, but we otherwise affirm the termination of Mother’s and Father’s parental rights.      

Maury County Court of Appeals 01/29/18
State of Tennessee v. Corbyn Davis
W2017-00141-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Corbyn Davis, of first degree premeditated murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life in prison for the murder conviction and to four years for the firearm conviction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support each conviction. Upon reviewing the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/26/18
William Greene v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00222-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, William Greene, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner pled guilty to aggravated assault, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and intentionally evading arrest in a motor vehicle. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he received an effective three-year sentence. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, asserting that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not voluntarily and intelligently entered because trial counsel failed to inform him of a special condition waiving his ability to petition to suspend the remainder of his sentence. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/26/18