Court Opinions

Format: 03/30/2017
Format: 03/30/2017
Davina Ruth Hart v. Gabriel Carse Hart
W2016-01616-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James F. Butler

In this post-divorce proceeding, father appeals the trial court’s reduction of his parenting time. We reverse the trial court’s reduction of father’s parenting time because the evidence does not support the trial court’s modification of the parenting plan and reinstate the previous parenting plan.

Madison County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Joseph O'Shields, et al. v. City of Memphis, et al.
W2016-01172-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans

The issue on appeal in this case is whether the City of Memphis unlawfully assessed a tax on real property located in a newly annexed area of the city in 2012. The plaintiffs are property owners in the annexed area who argue that the city had no authority to assess property taxes in the area for 2012 because its annexation of the area took effect after January 1, 2012. The trial court concluded that the tax was lawful because the City’s annexation of the area took effect before January 1, 2012 and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
James J. Bogner, II v. Vanderbilt University
M2015-00669-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

This is an appeal from a judgment entered on a jury verdict in favor of the defendant in a health care liability action. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant hospital for medical malpractice, medical battery, and lack of informed consent. The trial court granted a partial directed verdict in favor of the defendant after the plaintiff presented evidence. At the close of all the proof, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a directed verdict on the remaining issues of medical battery and informed consent. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in denying the motion for a directed verdict, in refusing to adopt the plaintiff’s special jury instructions, and in using a confusing special verdict form. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Gregory D. Valentine, Sr. v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00854-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Gregory D. Valentine, Sr., (“the Petitioner”) entered a “best interest” plea to twenty counts of identity theft, six counts of criminal simulation, and one count each of forgery, theft of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000, and money laundering. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of twelve years and eight months; he was ordered to serve thirty-two months with a seventy-five percent release eligibility in the county jail and ten years with a thirty percent release eligibility on probation. The Petitioner filed three pro se motions to set aside his guilty pleas, which the trial court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the motions to set aside the Petitioner’s guilty pleas. On remand, the trial court denied the Petitioner’s motions. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the trial court’s denial. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed the denial, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. After this court remanded this case, the Petitioner filed a motion to recuse, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on the Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying post-conviction relief and by denying his motion to recuse. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/17
Charles McMahon, et al. v. James Freels
W2015-01557-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William C. Cole

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

Tipton County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Janell Morton v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00478-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Janell Morton, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief in which she challenged her guilty pleas to attempted first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping and her effective sentence of thirteen and one-half years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she was denied her right to the effective assistance of counsel and that as a result, her pleas were unknowing and involuntary. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Miko Burl
W2016-00670-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, Miko Burl, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion for the correction of an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
Alfonso Chalmers v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01500-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Alfonso Chalmers, appeals the denial of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his conviction for premeditated first degree murder and resulting sentence of life in prison. The Petitioner filed a petition for the writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered mental health records reveal that he was diagnosed as psychotic and, therefore, unable to be convicted for premeditated first degree murder. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that it was time-barred, was meritless, and raised issues previously determined by this court. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Melton Jackson
M2016-01559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, Matthew Melton Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of theft of property valued over $500, and two counts of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years, to be served at 100%. This Court affirmed the Defendant’s sentence on appeal. State v. Matthew Melton Jackson, No. M2001-01999-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 288432, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 7, 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2003). The Defendant then unsuccessfully filed two petitions for post-conviction relief and two petitions for writs of habeas corpus, and this Court affirmed the lower courts’ denial of relief in each regard. The Defendant then filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct his allegedly illegal sentence, which the trial court summarily dismissed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
In Re: Delilah G.
E2016-01107-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

This is an appeal from an order terminating a mother’s parental rights to her daughter, of whom the Department of Children’s Services acquired custody following a referral of a drug exposed child and two referrals for medical maltreatment and nutritional neglect. The child’s parents were later adjudicated to have committed severe abuse on the child. The Department subsequently petitioned to terminate the parental rights of both parents, and the court granted the petition on the ground of severe child abuse and after holding that termination of the parents’ rights was in the best interest of the child. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Terry Sherrod
M2016-01112-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Defendant, Terry Sherrod, pled guilty in two separate cases to domestic assault and possession of a Schedule IV drug with the intent to sell or deliver. As a result of the guilty pleas, he received an effective sentence of four years to be served on Community Corrections. Subsequently, an affidavit and warrant were filed alleging Defendant violated the conditions of his sentence. After a hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his original sentence of four years with credit for 580 days. Defendant appeals the revocation. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by determining that Defendant violated the terms of his Community Corrections sentence. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. However, we remand the case for the entry of proper judgment forms for the charges that were dismissed as a result of the guilty plea.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
Omar Ahmad v. Ezad Ahmad
W2015-02148-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Christy R. Little

Because the order appealed does not comply with Rule 58 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, the order is not a final judgment. Consequently, this Court lacks jurisdiction and this matter must be dismissed.

Madison County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
In Re Estate of Gertrude Bible Link
M2015-02280-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jeffrey F. Stewart

This is an appeal from a jury trial in a will contest. The jury returned a verdict finding that the contested will was valid. The contestants have appealed, raising numerous issues and arguing that the evidence presented does not support the jury’s verdict. We affirm.    

Marion County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
Donel Autin, et al. v. William Goetz
W2016-00099-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

The trial court entered a protective order under Rule 26.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure while the case was ongoing. After the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, the trial court entered an order confirming the dismissal and extending the protective order ―in perpetuity. The defendant did not appeal the final order, but years later filed a motion to modify the protective order. The trial court denied the motion as barred by the doctrine of res judicata. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to extend the protective order after plaintiffs nonsuited their case. As an issue of first impression, we conclude that the trial court retained jurisdiction to extend and modify its previously entered protective order notwithstanding the voluntary dismissal of the underlying action. We further hold that modification of existing protective orders is authorized by the holding in Ballard v. Herzke, 924 S.W.2d 652, 658 (Tenn. 1996); accordingly, we vacate the trial court‘s denial of defendant‘s motion to modify and remand for reconsideration in light of our supreme court‘s established precedent.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Curtis Coleman
E2016-00678-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The petitioner, Curtis Coleman, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The petitioner has failed to state a colorable claim for relief under Rule 36.1; therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petitioner’s motion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Juan Diego Vargas
M2015-02458-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Defendant, Juan Diego Vargas, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, it appears that the trial court failed to enter a judgment form dismissing Count Three of the indictment. Accordingly, we remand for entry of a judgment form dismissing Count Three of the indictment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/17
Willie Gatewood v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02480-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Willie Gatewood, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance (1) by not filing a motion to suppress the results of a photographic identification by the victim, (2) by not filing a motion to suppress the results of a warrantless search of Petitioner's cellphone, and (3) by various failures during trial preparation. Because Petitioner has failed to prove his claims by clear and convincing evidence, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Doyan Anderson
W2015-02405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Doyan Anderson, was indicted for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon, a Class C felony; aggravated assault based on violation of a court order, a Class C felony; domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony involving the use or attempted use of violence, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iii), -13-102(c), -13-111, -17-1307. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of domestic assault and both counts of aggravated assault. The jury acquitted the Defendant of the unlawful possession of a firearm charge. The trial court merged the domestic assault conviction into the aggravated assault conviction based on violation of a court order. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a career offender and imposed a total effective sentence of thirty years' incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon and (2) that the trial court committed plain error by failing to require the State to make an election of the distinct conduct it was relying upon regarding the charge of aggravated assault based on violation of a court order. Following our review, we affirm the Defendant's convictions. However, we merge the Defendant's two convictions for aggravated assault and remand the case to the trial court for entry of corrected judgment forms reflecting said merger and the resulting sentence of fifteen years' incarceration.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Jermaine Burdette v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02400-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

In 2011, the Petitioner, Jermaine Burdette, entered a best interest plea to three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and three counts of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to 111 years of incarceration. This Court affirmed his conviction and sentences on direct appeal. State v. Jermaine Burdette, No. W2011-01938-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 6726525, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 26, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 9, 2013). In 2014, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel, that his plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered, and that the State had violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing disclose exculpatory evidence until the day before trial. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. We affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Linda Jane Parimore v. Gerald David Parimore
W2016-01188-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Martha Brasfield

Husband appeals: (1) the denial of his Rule 60.02 motion on the basis of fraud; and (2) the grant of attorney’s fees to Wife. We affirm the trial court’s denial of Husband’s Rule 60.02 motion but reverse the grant of attorney’s fees to Wife. We also decline the award of damages to Wife on appeal. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 02/17/17
Pavement Restorations, Inc. v. Thomas E. Ralls, et al.
W2016-01179-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor George R. Ellis

Employee’s employment was terminated for smoking in a company truck in violation of the employer’s rule. Employee’s initial request for unemployment benefits was denied. The Appeals Tribunal affirmed the denial of benefits, but the Commissioner’s Designee later reversed, finding that employee’s conduct was exempt from the definition of misconduct and concluding that the employee was, therefore, not terminated for workrelated misconduct as defined in the unemployment compensation statutes. On appeal to the chancery court, the trial court concluded that evidence in the record supported the Commissioner’s Designee’s decision. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 02/17/17
Quinzell Lawon Grasty v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02075-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Petitioner, Quinzell Lawon Grasty, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to challenge his first statement to police on the basis that he had requested counsel; (2) failing to file a pretrial motion in limine to exclude references to gang activity; (3) failing to object to the State‟s use of demonstrative evidence; (4) failing to object to the chain of custody of a backpack; (5) failing to request the trial court to question jurors about a newspaper found in the jury box; and (6) failing to disclose that he had a conflict of interest with Petitioner's stepfather. Petitioner also argues that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to include a copy of the suppression hearing transcript in the record on appeal and failing to raise sufficiency of the evidence as an issue on appeal. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert L. Lumpkin
M016-00878-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

The defendant, Robert L. Lumpkin, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to aggravated sexual battery and sexual exploitation of a minor, arguing that he did not understand the lifetime supervision aspect of the sex offender registry at the time he entered his pleas.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court denying the motion.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
City of Church Hill v. Roger Elliott
E2016-01915-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

Because defendant was charged and found guilty of violating a state statute, rather than a municipal ordinance, we conclude that we are without subject matter jurisdiction to consider this appeal. Therefore, we must transfer this case to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in accordance with Rule 17 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure for further adjudication.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 02/17/17
Brandon Thompson v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al
M2015-02526-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones

Brandon Thompson (“Employee”) worked as a delivery driver for United Parcel Service (“Employer”). He sustained a compensable injury to his lower back on January 18, 2012. He did not return to work for Employer. After the Benefit Review process was exhausted, he filed this action, seeking permanent total disability benefits. The trial court concluded that Employee was not totally disabled and awarded 44% permanent partial disability benefits. Employee has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that he was not permanently and totally disabled. He also claims that the judgment entered by the trial court is defective because it does not include certain findings. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/17/17