Court Opinions

Format: 03/22/2019
Format: 03/22/2019
State of Tennessee v. Toran Harper
W2017-00875-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury found the Appellant, Toran Harper, guilty of first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and being a felon in possession of a weapon. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life plus seventy-five years. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions, alleging that inconsistencies in the witnesses’ testimony raise reasonable doubt of his guilt. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/19
Jackson Miller v. Phyllis Frevik
M2018-01077-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

This case originated when the plaintiff filed an action against the defendant, alleging that the plaintiff was entitled to the proceeds from a life insurance policy. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant did not appeal that order but subsequently filed a motion for relief from the judgment pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed. Having determined that the defendant has failed to comply with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27 and Tennessee Court of Appeals Rule 6, we dismiss this appeal.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 02/06/19
In Re Devin C.
M2018-01918-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ray Grimes

This is an appeal from a decision of the Juvenile Court for Montgomery County setting a father’s child support obligation. Because the father did not file his notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the final judgment as required by Tenn. R. App. P. 4(a), we dismiss the appeal.

Montgomery County Juvenile & Family Courts 02/06/19
Preston Jamar Shepherd v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00945-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

Preston Jamar Shepherd, Petitioner, filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief using the form provided in Appendix A of Rule 28 of the Rules of the Supreme Court. Petitioner checked seven of the twelve “Grounds of Petition” listed in the form, including ground (2), that his convictions were “based on use of coerced confession” and (9), that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. After ground (2), Petitioner wrote “(due to mental capacity),” and after ground (9), Petitioner wrote “([f]ailed to go over facts/evidence with [Petitioner], and properly inform).” The post-conviction court found that the petition failed to state a factual basis for relief and summarily dismissed the petition for failing to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-106(d). We determine that the petition stated a colorable claim, reverse the summary dismissal, and remand for entry of a preliminary order pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-107(b).

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/19
Rafia N. Khan, Individually, And In Her Capacity As Trustee Of The Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust v. Regions Bank
E2018-01173-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

This is the fourth appeal arising from a disputed arbitration award in favor of Regions Bank (the Bank) “against Rafia N. Khan, individually, and as trustee” of the Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust (the Trust). Pursuant to this Court’s mandate in the first appeal, the trial court entered an order confirming the arbitration award “as to the Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust and to Rafia N. Khan as Trustee of the Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust.” Later, the trial court entered an order granting the Bank $72,156 in attorney’s fees and $2,094.05 in costs. Of that amount, the court assessed $45,928.92 against the Trust and assessed $28,321.13 against Ms. Khan individually. Ms. Khan’s notice of appeal states that she is appealing (1) the trial court’s order confirming the arbitration award; (2) the court’s order granting the Bank attorney’s fees and costs; and (3) the court’s order denying Ms. Khan’s motion to alter or amend. We affirm the trial court’s order confirming the arbitration award pursuant to the law of the case doctrine. We modify the court’s order awarding attorney’s fees. The award shall include attorney’s fees incurred by the Bank in the trial court and on direct appeal but not attorney’s fees incurred by the Bank in federal bankruptcy court proceedings.

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/06/19
State of Tennessee v. Richard Shane Frazier
W2018-00225-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Richard Shane Frazier, of aggravated assault and violating an Order of Protection. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of fifteen years to be served consecutively to previous sentences for other convictions. On appeal, the Defendant claims that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Jerimyah Sherrell Shutt v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00378-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

The Petitioner, Jerimyah Sherrell Shutt, pleaded guilty to especially aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner subsequently filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his counsel had rendered ineffective assistance. The post-conviction court appointed counsel and, after a hearing, denied relief. After review, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Lonny Lavar Bardin
W2017-02506-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

Lonny Lavar Bardin, Defendant, was convicted following a jury trial of Class B felony rape and Class E felony sexual battery and sentenced to eight years’ incarceration. Defendant claims that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Katherine Mae Pruitt v. Travis Pruitt
W2018-00453-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carma Dennis McGee

Appellant appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to set aside a final judgment obligating him to pay child support. The record shows that Appellant voluntarily executed a document placing his name on the child’s birth certificate and thereafter entered into a marital dissolution agreement and parenting plan obligating him to pay child support with full knowledge that he was not the biological parent of the child. Because Appellant has failed to present sufficient evidence of a ground for relief under Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, we affirm the decision of the trial court to deny Appellant’s request to set aside the judgment. We reverse, however, the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees based on the parties’ marital dissolution agreement.

Henry County Court of Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Barbara Mae Potter
E2015-02262-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

Following a trial, a Washington County jury found Defendant, Barbara Mae Potter, guilty of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and one count of tampering with evidence. At sentencing, the trial court merged Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit first degree murder into the two convictions for first degree premeditated murder and imposed concurrent life sentences for those offenses. The trial court imposed a three-year sentence for tampering with evidence and ordered the sentence to run concurrently with Defendant’s life sentences. On appeal, Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred in changing the venue of the trial to Washington County; (2) the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion for the lead prosecutor to withdraw from the case; (3) the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s “motion to
 pre-emptively strike witness”; (4) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions; (5) the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to sever; and (6) issues raised in Defendant’s petition for writ of error coram nobis entitle her to a new trial. Following a thorough review, we reinstate Defendant’s conspiracy to commit first degree murder conviction, affirm the convictions, and remand for sentencing on conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Charles Garland
E2017-02438-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

A Washington County jury convicted the Defendant, Aaron Charles Garland, of first degree felony murder and robbery. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress his statements to police and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for first degree felony murder. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State Ex Rel. Candice McQueen v. Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education Et Al.
M2018-00506-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Young

A metropolitan board of education adopted a policy preventing the provision of student information to the State of Tennessee in its role as the administrator of an achievement school district pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-13-132. The State filed a petition for writ of mandamus and declaratory judgment, and the chancery court granted the writ of mandamus. The board of education appeals. We affirm the decision of the chancery court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Wayne Woodard
E2017-02307-CCA-R10-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex Pearson

In 2016, the Defendant, Timothy Wayne Woodard, was indicted for nine counts of removal of government records and nine counts of theft of property. The Hamblen County District Attorney’s Office denied the Defendant’s application for pre-trial diversion. The Defendant filed a motion to disqualify the district attorney’s office from the case, alleging that its response to his application revealed a conflict of interest. After a hearing, the trial court found that the District Attorney’s Office was not disqualified from considering the Defendant’s application for pre-trial diversion. The Defendant filed application for extraordinary appeal, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 10. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Jenelle Leigh Potter
E2015-02261-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

A Washington County jury convicted the Defendant, Jenelle Leigh Potter, of two counts of first degree premeditated murder and one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The trial court merged the conspiracy conviction and ordered concurrent life sentences for both murder convictions. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to grant her request for a change of venire; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions for premeditated first degree murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated first degree murder; (3) the criminal responsibility statute, Tennessee Code Annotated, section, 39-11-402, is unconstitutionally vague; and (4) the trial court erred when it failed to enjoin the prosecutor from publishing his book about this case until after the final adjudication of this case. Following our review, we affirm the convictions for first degree premeditated murder, but hold that merger of the conspiracy conviction was error. We reinstate the Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit first degree murder and remand to the trial court for sentencing on that count.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Steven Anderson v. Russell Washburn, Warden - dissenting
M2018-00661-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

I respectfully disagree with the conclusions and opinions of the majority. Therefore, I must dissent from the majority’s opinion.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Steven Anderson v. Russell Washburn, Warden
M2018-00661-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The petitioner, Steven Anderson, appeals from the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which petition challenged his 1994 convictions of aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, and second degree murder. Because the petitioner has stated entitlement to habeas corpus relief in the form of the application of pretrial jail credit, we reverse and vacate the order of the habeas corpus court summarily dismissing the petition. The cause is remanded to the habeas corpus court so that that court may transfer the case to the trial court for the entry of an amended judgment reflecting the appropriate award of pretrial jail credit.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. James Hall
M2018-00096-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Defendant, James Hall, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to modify his sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35. Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to consider Defendant’s rehabilitation efforts. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. However, the judgment for case 2015-C-1974 contains an error that warrants remand for correction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Jonathan George Carter v. Elizabeth Jo Browne
W2018-00429-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Valerie L. Smith

Following a bench trial, the trial court entered a final decree of divorce in which it determined that Appellant/Wife was not entitled to an award of alimony in futuro, but awarded Wife alimony in solido and transitional alimony. The trial court further determined that the parties’ marital residence was Wife’s separate property. On appeal, Wife argues that the trial court erred in denying her alimony in futuro, while Appellee/Husband appeals the classification of the parties’ home as Wife’s separate property. With respect to the trial court’s decision that alimony in futuro is inappropriate in this case, we affirm. However, because we conclude that the trial court erred in classifying the parties’ home as Wife’s separate property, we reverse in part and remand for further proceedings

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/04/19
In Re: Estate Of Mary Ruth Davis Hudson
E2018-00583-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

In this estate proceeding, the appellants, three of the five adult children of the decedent, appeal the probate court’s interpretation of the decedent’s last will and testament as demonstrating the decedent’s intent to have her real property administered as part of her estate by her personal representative. Having determined that the probate court’s order was premature due to ongoing proceedings in the decedent’s conservatorship case, we vacate the probate court’s order interpreting the last will and testament. We remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/04/19
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. William S. Lockett, Jr., ET Al.
E2018-00129-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: E2018-00129-COA-R3-CV

The mortgagors sought to rescind the foreclosure sale of their property, claiming that the sale was invalid because it had been conducted improperly. A jury found the sale process was properly followed and the verdict was approved by the trial court. The mortgagors appeal. We affirm

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/04/19
State of Tennessee v. Hugh A. Niceley
M2017-02535-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

In 1994, the petitioner, Hugh A. Niceley, was convicted of eight counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery, occurring over the course of several years from 1988 until 1992. For his crimes, the petitioner received an effective sentence of fifty-three years, to be served at 30 percent. In 1999, the trial court entered a new judgment as to Count 9, requiring the sentence be served at 100 percent, as required by the applicable statute. As a result, the petitioner asserts the 1999 judgment created an illegal sentence, arguing his sentence in Count 9 should be served at 30 percent, as originally ordered. The trial court disagreed, as do we. Accordingly, the order of the trial court requiring service of Count 9 at 100 percent is affirmed.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Whelchel Randall Hogan
M2017-02254-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

Following the denial of a suppression motion, the defendant, Whelchel Randall Hogan, entered a guilty plea in Dickson County Circuit Court to possession with intent to sell or deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine and reserved the right to appeal a certified question of law relating to the initial seizure of the defendant and the validity of the search warrant issued in this case. The defendant asserts the police did not have reasonable suspicion for the initial seizure of the defendant and the search warrant issued in this case lacked probable cause. Upon our review of the record, arguments of the parties, and pertinent authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Eric Henry
E2018-00537-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The defendant, Eric Henry, appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his two-year sentence for reckless endangerment in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Elvis Louis Marsh
M2017-02360-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

The Defendant, Elvis Louis Marsh, was convicted of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, delivery of less than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, conspiracy to sell or deliver less than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received an effective sentence of thirty years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to support his convictions. Upon reviewing the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
Victor Eugene McConnell v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00883-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The pro se petitioner, Victor Eugene McConnell, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Davidson County Criminal Court, arguing the trial court erred in summarily dismissing the petition. The petitioner asserts the State breached the plea agreement in this case, entitling the petitioner to habeas corpus relief. After our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19