Court Opinions

Format: 08/16/2018
Format: 08/16/2018
Tommy Nunley v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01487-SC-R11-ECN
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

This appeal arises out of the appellant prisoner’s petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The petitioner, convicted of aggravated rape in 1998, asserted in his petition that the State violated his constitutional right to due process of law by withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense in his trial, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). Without asking the State for a response to the coram nobis petition and without an evidentiary hearing, the trial court dismissed the petition in part because it was filed long after expiration of the one-year statute of limitations and demonstrated no reason for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. The Court of Criminal Appeals declined to consider the statute of limitations because the State had not pled it as an affirmative defense, but affirmed the dismissal because the petition did not present newly discovered evidence warranting coram nobis relief. On appeal, we initially clarify that an error coram nobis proceeding is not the appropriate procedural vehicle for obtaining relief on the ground that the petitioner suffered a constitutional due process violation under Brady. As to the petition, we hold that (1) coram nobis petitions with insufficient allegations are susceptible to summary dismissal on the face of the petition, without discovery or an evidentiary hearing; (2) Tenn. R. Civ. P 8.03 does not apply to a petition for writ of error coram nobis; (3) timeliness under the statute of limitations is an “essential element” of a coram nobis claim that must be demonstrated on the face of the petition; and (4) if the petitioner seeks equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, the facts supporting the tolling request must likewise appear on the face of the petition. Applying this standard, we find no error in the trial court’s decision to dismiss the coram nobis petition and affirm.

Shelby County Supreme Court 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Cosby, AKA Patrick A. Britton, AKA Patrick T. Britton
M2017-00379-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, Patrick Cosby, plead guilty to attempted aggravated robbery with an agreed sentence of six years with the trial court to determine the manner of service. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve his six-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying alternative sentencing. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Tre Desean Bell
M2017-00843-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant-Appellant, Tre Desean Bell, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of voluntary manslaughter, see T.C.A. § 39-13-211, for which he received a sentence of six years in continuous confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in (1) denying his request for judicial diversion; (2) imposing the maximum sentence permissible; and (3) imposing a sentence of continuous confinement. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Ian Kolb
E2017-02208-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

The Defendant-Appellant, Ian Kolb, appeals from the revocation of his supervised probation sentence by the Sevier County Circuit Court. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve the remainder of his sentence. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
Joseph H. Johnston v. Mark Goins
M2017-00809-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle

Action brought by write-in candidate for tax assessor seeking declaratory judgment relative to the duties of the State Coordinator of Elections in the administration of Tennessee Code Annotated section 2-7-133(i). Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the chancellor.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/18/18
State of Tennessee vs. Michael Anthony Skettini
E2017-02468-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant-Appellant, Michael Anthony Skettini, appeals from the revocation of supervised probation by the Blount County Circuit Court. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
Juan A. Hill v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2018-00749-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everette Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

In 1997, the Petitioner was convicted of rape of a child and was sentenced to thirty-five years to be served consecutively to his sentence for a prior conviction. This court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See State v. Juan Alfonso Hill, No. 03C01-9710-CR-00441, 1999 WL 222370, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 8, 1999), perm app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 20, 1999). The Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied. This court affirmed the denial of relief on appeal. See Juan Alfonzo Hill v. State, No. E2004-02915-CCA-R3-PC, 2005 WL 2276422, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 19, 2005).

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Tyler Harris
M2017-01670-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Defendant, Patrick Tyler Harris, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) per se. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401(2). Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A), the Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging whether there existed sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop of the Defendant’s vehicle. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sequatchie County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
In Re Ky'Auri M.
E2017-00501-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert D. Philyaw

Relying on due process grounds, the mother of the parties’ child contends the juvenile court erred by modifying the parenting plan and designating the father as the primary residential parent. The only petition before the court was the father’s petition for contempt. The juvenile court magistrate who presided over the initial hearing informed the mother “that the issue before the Court was whether the mother was in contempt of this Court and upon the Court’s own motion, if she should remain custodian of the child.” At the conclusion of the hearing, the magistrate found “that because of the mother’s lack of compliance and cooperation, she was in Contempt of Court and that custody of the child would be granted to the father. . . .” The mother filed a request for rehearing in the juvenile court, and the juvenile court judge affirmed the magistrate’s order. This appeal followed. Because neither party petitioned the court to modify the existing permanent parenting plan or the designation of the primary residential parent and due process requires, at a minimum, “notice reasonably calculated . . . to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections,” Keisling v. Keisling, 92 S.W.3d 374, 377 (Tenn. 2002) (quoting State v. Pearson, 858 S.W.2d 879, 884 (Tenn. 1993)), it was error for the juvenile court to modify the permanent parenting plan and change the primary residential parent. As a result, we vacate the juvenile court’s order modifying the permanent parenting plan and designating the father as the primary residential parent and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 07/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Gavino Torres, Jr.
E2017-01690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The Defendant, Gavino Torres, Jr., pled guilty to attempted possession of a Schedule I drug with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; possession of a Schedule II drug with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; and two counts of possession of a Schedule IV drug with intent to sell or deliver, Class D felonies, in exchange for an effective sentence of ten years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of confinement, which the Defendant now challenges. After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Ziberia Marico Carero, Alias
E2017-01095-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Ziberia Marico Carero, Alias, was indicted for possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver, and a criminal gang offense enhancement pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121. A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted him of simple possession, a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver, a Class B felony. The trial court merged the conviction for simple possession into the conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver. After a bifurcated hearing, the Defendant’s conviction offense was enhanced to a Class A felony pursuant to the criminal gang offense enhancement statute. The trial court imposed a sentence of fifteen years as a Range I offender with 30% release eligibility for the Class A felony conviction, to be served consecutively to a twenty-three-year sentence the Defendant was already serving. The Defendant was later granted a new sentencing hearing when the criminal gang offense enhancement statute was deemed unconstitutional. In this appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s imposition of a fifteen year sentence as a Range II offender with 35% release eligibility for his now Class B felony conviction, as well as the court’s order that it be served consecutively to the twenty-three-year sentence he was already serving. After review, we affirm the sentence imposed by the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
Morris Rucker v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01964-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The pro se Defendant, Morris Rucker, appeals the trial court’s denial of his Tenn. Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 60.02 motion to set aside his judgments and/or for injunctive relief, arguing that the judgments are invalid because they do not bear the required file-date stamps. Following our review, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
Timothy P. Guilfoy v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01454-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The Petitioner, Timothy P. Guilfoy, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred in denying his petition because he presented newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit from the jury foreperson stating that the jury viewed videotaped forensic interviews of the victims during its deliberations. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
Kerry V. Covington v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02175-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The Petitioner, Kerry V. Covington, appeals from the Cheatham County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his nolo contendere pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered because he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel due to trial counsel’s having a conflict of interest. However, the Petitioner failed to timely file his notice of appeal. Because we conclude that the interest of justice does not require waiver of this requirement, we dismiss the appeal.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
Carlene Guye Judd, et al v. Carlton Guye, et al
M2017-01791-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement , Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Young

Plaintiff, a shareholder in the corporation at issue who obtained a judgment against the corporation in a prior action, now seeks to pierce the corporate veil to hold the other shareholder personally liable for the balance owing on the judgment. The trial court summarily pierced the corporate veil and held the defendant shareholder personally liable for the corporation’s debt to Plaintiff. The defendant shareholder appeals arguing, inter alia, that the trial court erred in allowing Plaintiff to pierce the veil of her own corporation. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/17/18
Gerald Largen v. The City Of Harriman
E2017-01501-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael S. Pemberton

This case involves a claim brought by a landowner challenging the validity of certain annexation ordinances that incorporated his property into the City of Harriman (the “City”). In December 2014, the landowner filed a declaratory judgment action against the City in the Roane County Circuit Court (“trial court”), alleging that several 1959 annexation ordinances passed by the City were void ab initio because a river adjacent to the City prevented land on the opposite side of the river from being contiguous with the City’s original boundaries. The landowner alleged that as a result of the first annexation’s purported invalidity, all subsequent annexations based on contiguity with the lands annexed in the 1959 ordinances were void by extension. The landowner sought a judgment voiding the challenged annexation ordinances, recovery of the real estate taxes he had paid to the City for his real property included in the annexed land, and a permanent injunction preventing the City from imposing any charges or taxes against him. The City responded with a motion to dismiss pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02, arguing that the landowner’s sole remedy would have been an action in the nature of a quo warranto proceeding pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 6-51- 103 (2015). In the alternative, the City argued that dismissal was proper because the landowner had not joined necessary parties who would be affected by the judgment he sought. Determining that other landowners with title to real property inside the annexed areas in question were indispensable to the landowner’s claim, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss and directed the landowner to join the necessary parties. The trial court also directed the landowner to amend his complaint to specify the challenged ordinances and affected properties. In November 2016, the landowner filed a motion for class action certification, which the trial court denied following a hearing. On March 10, 2017, the trial court dismissed the landowner’s complaint, finding that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction due to the non-joinder of indispensable parties. The landowner subsequently filed a “Motion to Set Aside Order,” which the trial court denied. The landowner has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Roane County Court of Appeals 07/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Lamont Booker
M2017-01467-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Antonio Lamont Booker, Defendant, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to alter or amend the judgment revoking his probation and placing his sentence into effect. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
Steven Skinner v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01797-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Petitioner, Steven Skinner, appeals the trial court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis without a hearing on his “newly discovered” evidence. After careful consideration, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Lynden Myrick
E2017-00588-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Graham

The Defendant, Jeremy Lynden Myrick, appeals his jury convictions for voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, for which he received an effective sentence of five and one-half years’ imprisonment. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges the following errors: (1) that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his statement because the stop of his vehicle was not supported by reasonable suspicion; (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his voluntary manslaughter conviction, challenging the evidence establishing cause of death; (3) that admission of a photograph of the victim’s injuries was more prejudicial than probative; and (4) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by referring to the amended death certificate which was testimonial in nature. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Tyrone Sisson
E2017-01721-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Defendant, Matthew Tyrone Sisson, entered a guilty plea to two counts of aggravated assault. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years and eight years for the two convictions and ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for an effective sentence of eighteen years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in admitting hearsay during the hearing, giving too much weight to enhancement factors, failing to apply additional mitigating factors, and running the sentences consecutively. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Lorenzo Wade
W2017-00933-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The Defendant, Johnny Lorenzo Wade, was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree premeditated murder; two counts of first degree felony murder; two counts of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony; one count of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony; and one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-101, -13-102, -13-202, -13-403. The trial court merged one of the first degree felony murder convictions into the first degree premeditated murder conviction and the aggravated assault conviction into the attempted first degree murder conviction. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life imprisonment plus forty years. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1)that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) that the trial court erred in denying his suppression motion alleging that the seizure of his cell phone was illegal; (3) that the trial court erred by admitting a video taken from his cell phone because it was not relevant and its probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice; (4) that the trial court erred in admitting the statement of a co-defendant under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule; (5) that the trial court erred by allowing a witness to identify an item of evidence without personal knowledge of the item; (6) that the trial court erred in allowing an employee of the Defendant’s cell phone provider to testify as an expert witness on the operation of the provider’s cellular network; (7) that the trial court erred in allowing a police investigator to testify as a lay witness about “the plotting and pinging of the Defendant’s cellular telephone records”; and (8) that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing partial consecutive sentences because such sentences “were excessive.” Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/18
State of Tennessee v. James Allen Gooch, Jr.
M2017-01885-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

A Sumner County jury convicted James Allen Gooch, Jr., Defendant, of sale of 0.5 ounces or more of marijuana within one thousand feet of a Drug-Free Zone and the attempt to sell 0.5 grams or more of cocaine. The trial court sentenced Defendant, as a Range III persistent offender, to an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. After Defendant filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion, the trial court determined that Defendant’s sentence was void and ordered a new sentencing hearing. The trial court then sentenced Defendant, as a Range II multiple offender, to a total effective sentence of sixteen years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the State waived the ability to seek a Range II sentence when it filed a notice of intent to seek a Range III sentence. He further argues that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to convict or sentence him because the State did not have an arrest warrant charging him with the present offenses. Lastly, he asserts in his reply brief that the State “committed a fraud upon the court” because his resentencing was based upon a presentence report that was erroneously admitted without personal knowledge. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/18
State of Tennessee v. Ronald Lee Freels, Jr.
E2017-00051-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

A Sevier County jury convicted Ronald Lee Freels, Jr., Defendant, of two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court sentenced Defendant to consecutive terms of twenty-five years as a persistent offender with 100% service. On appeal, Defendant claims that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that his sentence was excessive. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/18
Robert Townsend v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01667-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Robert Townsend, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his petition as untimely. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Maegan Davis
W2017-02145-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Maegan Davis, the Defendant, pled guilty to one count of driving under the influence and one count of driving under the influence per se and reserved a certified question. In her appellate brief, the Defendant states the following questions for appeal: “(1) Was the initial stop of the [D]efendant supported by probable cause that the [D]efendant had committed an offense?”; “(2) When the [D]efendant was detained, was that detention supported by probable cause that the [D]efendant had committed the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant?”; and “(3) Should the blood taken from the [D]efendant be suppressed as the fruit of an illegal seizure pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 7 of the Tennessee Constitution where the [D]efendant was detained for more than ninety (90) minutes without being given a field sobriety test?” After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we dismiss the Defendant’s appeal because she failed to properly certify her questions of law in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) and State v. Preston, 759 S.W.2d 647 (Tenn. 1988).

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18