Court Opinions

Format: 08/19/2017
Format: 08/19/2017
Demetrius Hollins v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01359-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Demetrius Hollins, of attempted second degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of sixty years of incarceration. This Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentence on appeal. State v. Demetrius Hollins, No. W2012-02001-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 6199463, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Nov. 25, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 15, 2014). The Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel based upon his trial counsel’s failure to subpoena several alibi witnesses. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief, and we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/17
Derek Cunningham v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01974-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Petitioner, Derek Cunningham, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Pursuant to a guilty plea, the Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to thirty years of incarceration. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that he entered his plea unknowingly and involuntarily. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the postconviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Dewayne Theus
W2016-01626-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Brandon Dewayne Theus, of unlawful possession of a firearm after previously having been convicted of a felony involving the attempted use of force, violence, or a deadly weapon. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to nine years in the Tennessee Department of Correction as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence discovered as a result a vehicle stop, the sufficiency of the evidence, and his sentence. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand the case to the trial court for correction of the judgment to reflect that the Defendant was convicted pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1307(b)(1)(A) rather than section 39-17-1307(c).

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/17
Andrea Renae Hopwood v. Corey Daniel Hopwood
M2016-01752-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

In this post-divorce proceeding, father appeals the trial court’s finding that he was guilty of civil contempt in failing to pay court-ordered financial obligations relative to the parties’ divorce. We affirm the trial court’s finding that Father was in willful contempt of court, but reverse the trial court’s decision to jail Father until he made an $8,122.43 purge payment.  

Williamson County Court of Appeals 07/12/17
Charles Stinson, et al. v. David E. Mensel, et al.
M2016-00624-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

This appeal involves a dispute between landowners over an easement on Plaintiffs’ property that allows the Defendants to use the easement for ingress and egress to their homes. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the Defendants unlawfully bulldozed the easement, encroached onto Plaintiffs’ property, and used threats and intimidation to prevent the Plaintiffs from coming on or using the non-exclusive easement. Defendants counter-sued, alleging that the Plaintiffs were actually the ones engaging in a campaign of harassment, and that the Plaintiffs were preventing the Defendants from the peace and enjoyment of the easement, which they used as their driveway. Following a bench trial, the trial court concluded that Plaintiffs were liable to Defendants for nuisance, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. The trial court also enjoined the Plaintiffs from having any use of the easement. Plaintiffs appealed. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and partially vacate the injunction. Specifically, we affirm the judgment of the trial court with respect to the nuisance claim, reverse the judgment of the trial court with respect to the intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy claims, and vacate the permanent injunction against Plaintiffs to the extent that it prohibits them from the lawful use of their property.

Hickman County Court of Appeals 07/12/17
Danny Jones, et al. v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, et al.
W2016-00717-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James R. Newsom

The Plaintiffs’ home was sold at foreclosure in May 2011. By way of a suit filed in the Shelby County Chancery Court, the Plaintiffs sought rescission of the foreclosure sale and asserted claims for breach of contract, violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, promissory estoppel, and negligent misrepresentation. The trial court dismissed these claims following the filing of a motion for summary judgment by the Defendants. Discerning no error based on our review of the record, we affirm the action of the trial court for the reasons expressed herein.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/12/17
Ann Calfee, et al v. Tennessee Department Of Transportation, et al
M2016-01902-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

This case involves an attempt by several landowners to challenge a permit issued by the Tennessee Department of Transportation that allowed the placement of water pipelines along two state highways to connect an industrial facility to the Nolichucky River. The trial court dismissed the complaint based on its conclusion that none of the plaintiffs had standing to maintain this action. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Scott Long
E2015-01287-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

Defendant, Jeffrey Scott Long, was indicted by the Blount County Grand Jury for first degree murder, felony murder during the perpetration of a burglary, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged, and the trial court merged the two murder convictions. The trial court imposed a life sentence for the murder conviction and concurrent six-year sentences for the remaining two convictions. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) Defendant's statement to police should have been suppressed because he made an unequivocal request for counsel, and he did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights; 2) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence an order of protection granted to the victim against Defendant; 3) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence autopsy photos; 4) the trial court should have suppressed evidence seized as a result of a warrantless search of Defendant's apartment; 5) the trial court erred by allowing expert testimony outside the scope of the forensic pathologist's expertise; 6) the trial court erred by denying Defendant's request for a special jury instruction; 7) the trial court erred by allowing evidence that was not properly authenticated; 8) Defendant was denied a fair trial because a portion of trial testimony was not transcribed; 9) the evidence was insufficient to sustain Defendant's convictions; 10) the State exceeded the scope of its closing argument on rebuttal; and 11) the cumulative effect of the errors requires reversal of Defendant's convictions. Having carefully reviewed the entire record and briefs of the parties, we conclude that there is no error. Accordingly, we affirm Defendant's convictions.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Devon Alvon Wilson
M2017-00248-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Devon Alvon Wilson (“the Defendant”) appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and imposing his sixteen-year sentence for three counts of possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, three counts of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of a Schedule III substance with intent to sell, and evading arrest. On appeal, the Defendant acknowledges that he violated probation but argues that the trial court should have ordered only a partial revocation. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Tedarrius Lebron Myles
E2016-01478-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

A jury convicted the Defendant, Tedarrius Lebron Myles, of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdicts, that hearsay evidence regarding the Defendant’s identity was admitted in error, and that the State failed to qualify an expert witness to testify. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient and that the Defendant cannot demonstrate plain error in the admission of evidence, and we accordingly affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/17
Rita Goins v. Eugene Lawson, et al.
E2016-01406-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

Rita Goins (“Plaintiff”) appeals the May 9, 2016 order of the Circuit Court for Campbell County (“the Trial Court”) dismissing her case. Plaintiff’s notice of appeal was filed on July 8, 2016, more than thirty days from the date of entry of the May 9, 2016 final order. As the notice of appeal was not filed timely, we are constrained to dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Campbell County Court of Appeals 07/11/17
Jennifer Kate Watts v. Scottie Lee Watts
W2016-01189-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans

In this divorce case, the parties owned three businesses that comprised a large portion of their marital estate. Prior to trial, they entered into a written agreement providing that they would retain a business valuation expert to analyze two of the three businesses and that they would accept the expert’s findings as conclusive evidence of their value at trial. At the outset of trial, Wife requested a continuance to allow the expert more time to complete the valuations. Despite having ordered Wife to sign a document retaining the expert five days earlier, the trial court denied the continuance and ordered the parties to proceed with trial. As a result, Wife did not present any evidence of either business’s value at trial. On appeal, we affirm the trial court’s award of a divorce to Wife. However, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Wife’s request for a continuance and that the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law are insufficient to enable a meaningful appellate review of its property division. We also conclude that the trial court’s rulings with regard to the Ferjo art collection, the two rings gifted to Wife during the marriage, and the children’s private school tuition expenses are not supported by the evidence in the record. As such, we affirm the trial court’s permanent parenting plan except that we vacate that portion of the plan concerning the children’s private school tuition expenses. On remand, the trial court should make findings of fact and conclusions of law as to whether an upward deviation in child support is appropriate in this case in light of the parties’ stated willingness to share the children’s private school tuition expenses equally. We affirm the trial court’s award of the original Ferjo painting to Wife as her separate property. We hold that the Ferjo reproductions should be classified as marital property and the two rings gifted from Husband to Wife during the marriage should be classified as Wife’s separate property on remand. We vacate the remainder of the trial court’s property division and remand to the trial court for an equitable division of martial property consistent with this opinion. Finally, we vacate the trial court’s rulings on spousal support and attorney’s fees and direct the trial court to reconsider those issues on remand following its equitable distribution of marital property.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/11/17
In Re: Gabrielle W.
E2016-02064-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Beth Boniface

In this appeal the biological father to the child at issue sought to set aside the Final Order of Adoption. Following a hearing, the trial court declared the Final Order of Adoption void on its face, finding that the court did not have personal jurisdiction over the biological father to terminate his parental rights. The guardian failed to sign his notice of appeal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-124(d), requiring us to grant the father’s motion to dismiss the guardian’s appeal and leave in place the trial court’s decision to void the Final Order of Adoption.

Greene County Court of Appeals 07/11/17
Dawn Brown v. Maurice Nunley
W2016-00646-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

This is an appeal from the entry of a six-month order of protection. Because the order of protection has already expired by its terms, we dismiss the appeal as moot.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Xavier Sanchez Skaggs
E2016-01861-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

In 2008, the Defendant, Xavier Sanchez Skaggs, pleaded guilty to possession of contraband in a penal institution, and the trial court sentenced him to a suspended sentence of eight years, as a Range II offender. The trial court ordered this sentence to be served consecutively to other sentences being served by the Defendant. In 2016, the Defendant’s probation officer filed an affidavit alleging that the Defendant had failed to regularly attend relapse prevention classes and that he also failed two drug screens. The Defendant pleaded guilty to violating his probation, and the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement because the trial court failed to address the Defendant’s underlying problem of persistent drug use. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
Corey Cortez Abernathy v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01258-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

In 2012, the Petitioner, Corey Cortez Abernathy, pleaded guilty to burglary of an automobile and theft of property and agreed to a sentence of two years of incarceration. In 2013, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief based upon ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court held a hearing on the petition and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel because his counsel failed to file a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
State of Tennessee v. John Brichetto
E2016-01675-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers

In 2012, a Morgan County jury found the Defendant, John Brichetto, guilty of theft of property valued at more than $60,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to ten years of incarceration and ordered him to pay $142,215 in restitution to the victim. In 2016, the Defendant filed one of several motions pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, seeking to correct an illegal sentence. The trial court summarily denied Rule 36.1 relief. On review, having determined that the Petitioner has failed to state a colorable claim for Rule 36.1 relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
Deborah Lacy v. Hallmark Volkswagen Inc. of Rivergate, et al.
M2016-02366-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

A customer at a car dealership filed suit against the sales manager and others for injuries she allegedly sustained due to an assault and battery by the sales manager. The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendants because Plaintiff failed to submit any affidavits setting forth specific facts that showed a genuine issue existed for trial, as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Defendants. Perceiving no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s order granting summary judgment to Defendants.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/10/17
Charles D. Sprunger v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01096-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Petitioner, Charles D. Sprunger, appeals the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 conviction for sexual exploitation of a minor and his eight-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that (1) he was denied his right to trial counsel of his choice because his “untainted” real property was seized before the trial pursuant to the civil asset forfeiture statutes and (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Virgil Lucas Baker
M2016-00974-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Virgil Lucas Baker, of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; vandalism of property valued more than $500 but less than $1,000, a Class E felony; and assault, a Class A misdemeanor. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of fifteen years; six years; and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the victim’s identifications of him and that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
Nedra B. Drayton v. Cooper Moving Services
W2017-00718-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, from the denial of a motion for judicial recusal filed by Nedra B. Drayton (“Plaintiff”) in her case against Cooper & Cooper Moving, Inc. DBA J. Cooper Self-Storage, Inc., identified in the style of the case below as Cooper Moving Services (“Defendant”). Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal filed by Plaintiff, and discerning no reversible error in the Chancellor’s ruling, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/10/17
Randall Turner v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01969-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams,
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Petitioner, Randall Turner, filed a motion to reopen his post-conviction petition in which he challenged his guilty pleas to first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated robbery and his effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The post-conviction court denied the motion, and the Petitioner subsequently filed two motions to rehear, both of which the post-conviction court denied. The Petitioner filed a notice of appeal pursuant to Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we dismiss the appeal.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/17
State of Tennessee v. Elijah Ogle
E2016-02468-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

The Defendant, Elijah Ogle, pled guilty to aggravated burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated domestic assault, three counts of illegal possession of a firearm, domestic assault, possession of a weapon with the intent to go armed, possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received an effective ten-year sentence which was to be served on probation. A violation of probation warrant was issued against the Defendant, charging him with having been arrested for aggravated domestic assault, failing to report the arrest to his probation officer, failing to refrain from contact with the victim, and continuing to engage in assaultive behavior. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in prison. The Defendant appeals. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/17
Clyde Green v. State of Tennessee
E2016--01847-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Petitioner, Clyde Green, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of facilitation of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of facilitation of felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, criminal conspiracy to possess more than twenty-six grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, possession of more than twenty-six grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, and maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances were used or sold. He received an effective twenty-two-year sentence. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which rendered his pleas unknowing and involuntary. 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.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/17
Charles Beard v. Arvin W. Glass, et al.
M2016-02395-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Howard W. Wilson

The plaintiff filed this action against the defendants, alleging that the plaintiff had been wrongfully expelled from the Prince Hall Masonic organization. The plaintiff further alleged that he had been defamed and his reputation damaged. The action was dismissed by the trial court due to the plaintiff’s failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff timely appealed. Because the plaintiff has failed to comply with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27 and Tennessee Court of Appeals Rule 6, we dismiss this appeal.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 07/07/17