Court Opinions

Format: 03/30/2017
Format: 03/30/2017
Sonia Gonzales v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02496-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter

The petitioner, Sonia Gonzales, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the court erred in finding that she received effective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
James Hardin v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00536-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, James Hardin, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary and resulting effective sentence of twenty-two years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
Joe Turner v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00849-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Joe Turner, filed a petition in the Knox County Criminal Court seeking post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of aggravated rape, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated assault, and the accompanying effective sentence of one hundred years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner alleged that his appellate counsel was ineffective by failing to appeal the trial court‟s refusal to admit potentially exculpatory DNA evidence. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Justin Daniel Adams
M2015-00835-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Justin Daniel Adams, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, agreeing to an out-of-range sentence of eight years.  The parties agreed to allow the trial court to determine the manner of service of his sentence.  After a hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve his sentence in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied him an alternative sentence and that his judgment form should be amended to reflect applicable pretrial jail credit. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.  We remand the case to the trial court for the entry of an amended judgment that reflects the Defendant’s applicable pretrial jail credit.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
Kim Hardy v. Tournament Players Club at Southwind, Inc., d/b/a "TPC Southwind,", et al.
W2014-02286-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donna M. Fields

We granted this interlocutory appeal to address whether an employee may assert a private right of action against her employer under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-2-107, referred to as the Tennessee Tip Statute, for the employer’s failure to properly pay tips, gratuities, and service charges.  The trial court granted the defendant employers’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff employee’s claim pursuant to section 50-2-107 for failure to state a claim, on the ground that there was no private right of action under the statute.  In a divided opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed, based in part on a 1998 Court of Appeals decision recognizing a private cause of action under the Tip Statute.  On appeal, we find that the 1998 Court of Appeals decision is inconsistent in part with subsequent Tennessee Supreme Court jurisprudence on implying a private right of action under a statute.  For this reason, we decline to apply the doctrine of legislative inaction to presume that the legislature knew of the 1998 Court of Appeals’ holding, recognizing a private right of action under the statute, and acquiesced in it.  We hold instead that the employee has no private right of action under section 50-2-107 and overrule the 1998 Court of Appeals decision to the extent that it is inconsistent with our holding herein.  Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirm the trial court’s judgment granting the motion to dismiss the employee’s cause of action under section 50-2-107 for failure to state a claim.

Shelby County Supreme Court 03/08/17
Henry Fletcher v. CFRA, LLC
M2016-01202-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Hamilton V. Gayden, Jr.

Henry Fletcher (“Plaintiff”) sued CFRA, LLC (“CFRA”), which owns and operates an International House of Pancakes (“IHOP”) restaurant in Antioch, Tennessee, alleging that CFRA was liable for the actions of its IHOP employee, Kenneth W. Hale, Jr. (“Hale”), in connection with an assault upon Plaintiff committed by Hale.  The Circuit Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) granted summary judgment to CFRA.  Plaintiff appeals the grant of summary judgment.  We find and hold that CFRA made a properly supported motion for summary judgment, that Plaintiff failed to show that there are genuine disputed issues of material fact that would preclude summary judgment, and that CFRA was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.  We, therefore, affirm the grant of summary judgment to CFRA.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/08/17
Quanya Revell Prewitt v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02090-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Quanya Revell Prewitt, filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging various claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.  The post-conviction court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we conclude that because of the post-conviction court’s failure to comply with the mandates of section 9(D)(1)(b)(i) of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 28, we are compelled to reverse the denial of post-conviction relief and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
Gerome Smith v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01064-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

The Petitioner, Gerome Smith, appeals from the Sumner County Criminal Court’s denial of his pro se motion to vacate the post-conviction court’s judgment.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/07/17
Mark Antonio Allen v. Candy Rachelle Munn Allen
W2016-01078-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donna M. Fields

This appeal arises from the post-divorce restriction of an alternate residential parent’s parenting time. The parties divorced in 2010. By agreement, the father was designated primary residential parent of the parties’ two minor children. The original parenting plan gave the mother 160 days of unsupervised visitation per year, including time in the summers and on holidays. In 2014, the father filed a petition requesting that the trial court restrict mother’s parenting time to supervised visitation only. Father’s lawyer then approached the trial court ex parte with an affidavit of the daughter’s psychologist and requested emergency relief restricting the mother’s visitation. The trial judge signed a temporary injunction requiring the mother’s parenting time to be supervised. When the mother attempted to set aside this injunction, the trial court ordered the mother to undergo a Rule 35 evaluation. After performing his examination of the mother, the independent Rule 35 evaluator testified that the mother was capable of caring for her children without supervision. Nevertheless, the trial court entered a final order and permanent parenting plan that substantially decreased the mother’s parenting time and required it to be supervised indefinitely. The trial court also awarded the father $15,000.00 in attorney’s fees. Following a thorough review of the record, we vacate the order of the trial court restricting the mother’s parenting time, reverse the trial court’s order awarding the father attorney’s fees, remand the case to the trial court, and necessarily reinstate the parties’ original parenting plan.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/07/17
State of Tennessee v. Ioka Kimbuke Kyles
M2016-00796-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Defendant, Ioka Kimbuke Kyles, entered guilty pleas in the Davidson County Criminal Court to two counts of facilitation of aggravated child abuse and one count of facilitation of aggravated child neglect.  The trial court imposed concurrent eight-year sentences for each count, to be served in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/07/17
In Re: Estate of Madelyn Cleveland
E2016-01624-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Shults

In this probate matter, the decedent was a party to divorce proceedings in Georgia with her estranged husband at the time of her death. The decedent and her husband had executed a separation agreement as part of those proceedings, wherein they agreed that each party would individually maintain ownership of specified marital assets and execute any documents necessary to effectuate the agreement as to each asset. The decedent passed away before the respective transfers of property were made, and her personal representative filed an action seeking to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The trial court conducted a hearing in this matter and determined that the agreement had been rescinded by the husband, such that all jointly owned marital assets passed to him at the decedent’s death. The personal representative has appealed. We determine that the husband did not have a proper basis for rescission of the settlement agreement and that any purported rescission was ineffective. We therefore reverse the trial court’s order dismissing the petition filed by the personal representative and awarding ownership of all marital assets to the husband. We remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings regarding enforcement of the agreement.

Unicoi County Court of Appeals 03/07/17
Donnie Davenport v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00760-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Petitioner, Donnie Davenport, appeals from the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his jury trial conviction of promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine, for which he is serving a twelve-year, Range III sentence. He contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying his claim, which is premised upon ineffective assistance of counsel allegations. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/17
Tommy Nunley v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01487-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Campbell

The petitioner, Tommy Nunley, appeals the summary denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition challenged his 1998 Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated rape, claiming that the trial court erred by treating his petition for writ of error coram nobis as a petition for DNA testing and by summarily dismissing the petition. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Timothy Lee Armstrong v. Tammy Ford, Warden
W2016-00891-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Timothy Lee Armstrong, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he challenged his 1994 convictions for felony murder and especially aggravated robbery and his effective sentence of life imprisonment. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Roosevelt Bigbee v. Jonathan Lebo, Warden
W2016-01997-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The petitioner, Roosevelt Bigbee, appeals the dismissal of his habeas corpus petition in which he alleged the felony murder indictment upon which he was convicted and incarcerated to be void. The petitioner asserts that because he was not separately indicted for the underlying felony of attempted robbery, upon which the felony murder conviction rested, the murder indictment is void. Following our review, we affirm the habeas court’s dismissal of the petition as the petitioner has failed to show he is entitled to relief.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Charles Edgar Ledford v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00208-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Petitioner, Charles Edgar Ledford, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that his guilty pleas for various child sex offenses were involuntary and unintelligent as a result of the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Defendant also claims that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance at his sentencing hearing. Additionally, Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred by precluding evidence on an issue it deemed previously determined and that he is entitled to a new evidentiary hearing because post-conviction counsel failed to comply with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 28. After reviewing the record, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Elton Keith McCommon
W2015-01228-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The defendant, Elton Keith McCommon, was indicted for two counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, one count of evading arrest, one count of driving under the influence, and one count of driving with a suspended or revoked license. Following trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, evading arrest, and driving with a suspended or revoked license. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a career offender and imposed an effective twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for reckless endangerment and evading arrest. The defendant also challenges the trial court’s evidentiary ruling regarding items found during a search incident to his arrest. Finally, the defendant disputes his status as a career offender. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Haywood County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Clifton
E2015-02307-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Defendant, Christopher Clifton, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Subsequently, Defendant entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault as a Range I standard offender. The State recommended and the trial court imposed a four-year sentence at thirty percent with the ability to apply for probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea based on his assertion that the plea was not voluntarily or knowingly entered. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Humphre Ford
W2015-02407-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Humphre Ford, of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, unlawful possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and two counts of simple possession of marijuana. Due to his extensive criminal history, the trial court imposed a within-range consecutive sentence of twelve years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a handgun convictions and the imposition of consecutive sentences. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Lynn a.k.a. Jerome Buss
M2015-02413-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

Defendant, Johnny Lynn, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 to correct an illegal sentence.  Defendant contends that the trial court erred by concluding that relief was not available because his sentence was legal and, thus, he failed to state a colorable claim under Rule 36.1. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee.

Perry County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Kelly Nicole Henderson
M2016-01325-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda J. McClendon

We granted this interlocutory appeal to review the trial court’s order granting the Defendant’s motion to suppress the results of a breath alcohol test.  Prior to trial, the Defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of the breath alcohol test based upon a violation of State v. Sensing,843 S.W.2d 412 (Tenn. 1992).  The trial court granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress, and the State filed for an interlocutory appeal.  After review of the record and applicable authority, we hold that the trial court erred in suppressing the results of the blood alcohol test because the State attempted to properly admit them through expert testimony in accordance with Tennessee Rules of Evidence 702 and 703.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Bobby Dewayne Presley v. State of Tennessee - Dissent
M2015-00520-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

I agree with the majority that this case has a “mystifying” procedural history.  I write separately to express my concerns regarding the authority of the Petitioner’s mother, acting through a standard form durable power of attorney, to dismiss the Petitioner’s direct appeal of his 2011 conviction.  Equally concerning is the waiver by the Petitioner’s mother of appellate counsel’s conflict in representing the Petitioner during his direct appeal and post-conviction proceedings.  As the majority notes, the issue of the Petitioner’s mother authority to act on behalf of the Petitioner was not raised.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Bobby Dewayne Presley v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00520-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

Petitioner sought post-conviction relief alleging that trial counsel’s ineffectiveness prevented him from seeking a direct appeal.  The post-conviction court denied relief after a hearing, finding that Petitioner failed to show he was prejudiced by trial counsel’s actions.  We determine that the record does not preponderate against the findings of the post-conviction court.  Therefore, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Tamara Reece Milton v. Randall v. Harness, Jr.
E2017-00092-COA-R10-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Frank V. Williams, III

This is an extraordinary appeal, filed pursuant to Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, seeking review of the Trial Court’s ex parte injunction temporarily changing custody of the parties’ six-year-old child (“Child”), born out-of-wedlock, pending the final adjudication of the Petition for Custody and Injunction (“Petition” or “Petition for Custody”) filed by the Petitioner, Randall V. Harness, Jr. (“Father”), in which he seeks to legitimate and obtain custody of Child. We conclude that an extraordinary appeal is warranted, that both the ex parte injunction changing custody and the Trial Court’s subsequent order continuing that injunction should be vacated, and that custody of Child be restored to the Respondent, Tamara Reece Milton (“Mother”), pending further action by the Trial Court.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Tavis Bowers
W2016-01007-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The defendant, Tavis Bowers, was convicted by a Madison County jury of two counts of assault by offensive or provocative touching, a Class B misdemeanor, and one count of resisting arrest, also a Class B misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court to concurrent six-month sentences for the assault convictions, to be served consecutively to a six-month sentence for the resisting arrest conviction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and argues that the trial court committed plain error by not instructing the jury on self-defense. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/17