Court Opinions

Format: 08/16/2018
Format: 08/16/2018
State of Tennessee v. James B. Cobb
E2017-01746-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, James B. Cobb, was convicted of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor. He received a sentence of eleven months and twentynine days, suspended after forty-eight hours of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in excluding a defense expert’s curriculum vitae from evidence; (3) the State made improper closing argument; and (4) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s oral request for a jury instruction on character witnesses. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/18
Enoc Miranda v. CSC Sugar, LLC
W2017-01986-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

This is a premises liability case. Appellant, a construction worker, fell from scaffolding while working in Appellee’s factory. Specifically, Appellant ran an extension cord across the warehouse floor to reach an electrical outlet to power a screw gun used to install new sheetrock required in the warehouse renovation. Appellee’s employee drove a forklift over Appellant’s extension cord, entangling the cord and dislodging the scaffolding. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee finding that there were no disputes of material fact and that Appellee had no duty to warn Appellant of a dangerous condition that Appellant created. Because there are material factual disputes that preclude the grant of summary judgment, we reverse and remand.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 07/05/18
Mike Snodgrass v. AHA Mechanical Cont., LLC
W2017-01401-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

The trial court denied Appellant, employee, relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and employee appeals. Because the trial court’s judgment does not clearly show that it applied the correct legal standard in deciding the case, we vacate and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/05/18
Shay Ryan Doming v. Kelly Deann Doming
M2017-02507-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

Father appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to alter, amend, or modify parenting plan and award of attorney’s fees in favor of Mother. Because the appellate record contains neither a transcript nor a statement of the evidence required by Rule 24 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, we are not able to review the trial court’s substantive holdings. Therefore, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s findings. Based on the plain language of the permanent parenting plan, Mother is awarded her attorney’s fees and costs incurred in this appeal.  

Williamson County Court of Appeals 07/05/18
Brett A. Patterson v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00978-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Ayers

The Petitioner, Brett A. Patterson, appeals from the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his 1988 convictions for two counts of first degree murder, first degree burglary, and aggravated rape and his effective sentence of life imprisonment plus forty years. The Petitioner contends that the court erred by denying relief. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court relative to the video recording allegations, but we remand for further consideration of the Petitioner’s motion to continue relative to the laboratory bench notes allegations.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/05/18
In Re: McKenzie O., Et Al. - Dissenting
E2017-00956-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Toohey

While I understand my learned colleagues’ desire to bring finality and stability to the lives of these children who so desperately deserve it, I must unfortunately conclude that this case cannot be resolved based upon the order entered by the trial court. I therefore respectfully dissent from the majority opinion.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 07/05/18
In Re: McKenzie O., Et Al.
E2017-00956-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Toohey

Mother appeals the trial court’s decision to terminate her parental rights to two children on the grounds of (1) substantial noncompliance with the requirements of the permanency plan and (2) persistence of conditions. She further challenges the trial court’s finding by clear and convincing evidence that termination of her parental rights was in the best interest of the children. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 07/05/18
Desiree Dawn Roberts Et Al. v. Wellmont Health System Et Al.
E2017-00845-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E.G. Moody

This interlocutory appeal involves a health care liability action. Plaintiff gave written presuit notice of her claim to all potential defendants. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c) (Supp. 2013). Later, she filed a complaint against the same defendants. In doing so, she relied upon the 120-day extension of the one-year statute of limitation as provided for in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c). Each defendant filed a motion to dismiss. Prior to a hearing on those motions, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her complaint. Plaintiff subsequently served each defendant with new pre-suit notice and later re-filed her complaint in reliance on the one-year savings statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-1-105, and the 120-day extension pursuant to § 29-26-121(c). Defendants moved to dismiss the second complaint. The trial court denied defendants’ motions. In doing so, the court took “judicial notice” of the practice of some attorneys in the Second Judicial District of providing their adversaries with “blank” authorizations. The court ultimately held that the medical authorizations in the first pre-suit notice were not only HIPAA compliant, but “overly” so. The trial court concluded that, because the first pre-suit notice was, according to the court, valid, the first-filed complaint was timely filed. Upon the request of the defendants, the court granted them permission to pursue an interlocutory appeal pursuant to the provisions of Tenn. R. App. P. 9. We likewise granted defendants permission to file a Rule 9 discretionary appeal. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the plaintiff’s suit with full prejudice.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 07/05/18
Johnny Coffey v. State of Tennessee
E2017-02206-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The pro se Appellant, Johnny Coffey, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/05/18
Jennifer Marie Lopez v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00841-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

A Davidson County jury convicted Petitioner, Jennifer Marie Lopez, of the Class A felony offense of aggravated child neglect. She was sentenced to serve seventeen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The judgment was affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Jennifer Lopez and Sergio H. Gonzalez, No. M2014-01701-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 6083216 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 16, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 24, 2016). Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. Petitioner has appealed, asserting that she is entitled to relief based upon her trial counsel’s ineffective assistance of counsel. Following a review of the briefs of the parties and the entire record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/05/18
In Re Ashton B. et al.
M2017-00974-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The Department of Children’s Services filed a petition for temporary emergency custody under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) after a mother from Alabama who was travelling through Tennessee with her two minor children was arrested on charges including reckless endangerment. The juvenile court determined that the children were dependent and neglected, and the mother appealed for a de novo hearing in circuit court. When an Alabama court entered an order granting custody to the children’s father, the circuit court lost jurisdiction, and the circuit court’s subsequent order finding the children dependent and neglected became null and void. We, therefore, dismiss this appeal.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 07/03/18
In Re D.N. et al.
E2017-02315-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp

This is a termination of parental rights case. Father/Appellant appeals the trial court’s termination of his parental rights to the minor child on the ground of abandonment by willful failure to visit. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-1-113(g)(1) and 36-1-102(1)(A)(i). Because there is clear and convincing evidence to support both the ground for termination and the trial court’s finding that termination of Appellant’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest, we affirm and remand.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 07/03/18
Jimmy Heard v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2018-00325-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Petitioner, Jimmy Heard, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 2007 convictions for attempted second degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and evading arrest and his effective forty-four-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18
Clark Derrick Frazier v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2018-00323-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa Rice

The Petitioner, Clark Derrick Frazier, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 2007 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-five-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18
State of Tennessee v. Kelly Scott Hood
E2017-02166-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Defendant, Kelly Scott Hood, appeals the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation for his aggravated burglary, theft, and attempted theft convictions and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective eight-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18
State of Tennessee v. Lee Harold Cromwell
E2017-01320-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers

The defendant, Lee Harold Cromwell, was convicted of one count of reckless vehicular homicide and eight counts of reckless aggravated assault against nine different victims. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range I, standard offender and imposed an effective twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for reckless aggravated assault and challenges various aspects of the jury instructions. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in not merging his eight aggravated assault convictions into his vehicular homicide conviction. Finally, the defendant generally challenges the trial court’s sentencing determinations and asserts the cumulative effect of the errors alleged rendered his trial unfair. After our review, we affirm the evidence was sufficient to support the defendant’s convictions and the trial court properly sentenced the defendant, but conclude the trial court committed reversible error in instructing the jury as to reckless aggravated assault. Therefore, we vacate the defendant’s eight convictions for reckless aggravated assault and remand this case to the trial court for a new trial.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18
Joe Clark Mitchell v. Debra Johnson, Warden
M2017-01478-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Petitioner, Joe Clark Mitchell, appeals from the Hickman County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his sixth petition for writ of habeas corpus. He contends that the judgments of conviction are void because this court lacked jurisdiction to modify his sentence without remanding to the trial court; the judgments from the appellate and trial courts are inconsistent and void; and the Giles and Maury County trial courts lacked jurisdiction to indict, convict, and sentence him. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18
Larry Edward Moore, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00903-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Larry Edward Moore, the Petitioner, was convicted of carjacking. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, challenging his Davidson County Criminal Court conviction for carjacking. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his request to instruct the jury that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle was a lesser-included offense of carjacking; (2) trial counsel’s performance was deficient for failing to keep the Petitioner informed of his case and for failing to have an effective trial strategy; and (3) trial counsel’s performance on appeal was deficient for failing to include the lesser-included instruction issue in the motion for new trial and on appeal. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18
State of Tennessee v. Destiny White
W2017-01649-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The defendant, Destiny White, appeals her Shelby County Criminal Court conviction for voluntary manslaughter, claiming the trial court erred by denying her request for judicial diversion. After a review of the record and applicable law, we conclude the trial court placed undue weight on the victim’s death in support of its decision to deny judicial diversion and failed to explain how, if at all, it considered and weighed other applicable factors. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the matter to the trial court for reconsideration.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18
Cleo Henderson v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01570-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The petitioner, Cleo Henderson, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. The petitioner also asserts the trial court erred in finding he waived his right to testify during trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition and conclude the petitioner affirmatively waived his right to testify at trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/18
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Latrail Easley
W2017-01241-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

The defendant, Marcus Latrail Easley, appeals from the Weakley County Circuit Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Weakley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/18
David Cody Watkins v. State of Tennessee
W2017-02117-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

The petitioner, David Cody Watkins, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Weakley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/18
State of Tennessee v. Darrell Wayne Smith
E2017-00764-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Pemberton

The defendant, Darrell Wayne Smith, was convicted of driving under the influence and violation of the Tennessee Financial Responsibility statute. On appeal, the defendant contends he was denied a fair trial because the trial court issued a capias for his arrest in front of the jury. Additionally, the defendant contends the trial court erred in allowing portions of the State’s expert’s testimony and that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. On our review of the record and relevant authorities, the defendant is not entitled to relief.

Roane County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/18
In Re: Philip Roseman 2012 Irrevocable Gift Trust
M2017-01994-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Randall Kennedy

Philip Roseman, now deceased, petitioned the trial court to set aside a quitclaim deed, which he admittedly executed, transferring title of his house to his son as trustee of the Philip Roseman 2012 Irrevocable Gift Trust. Philip Roseman averred that he did not have the requisite intent to make a complete gift when he executed the quitclaim deed. The trial court determined that the deed was valid and granted summary judgment to the trustee. We affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/02/18
Angelina Rae Hubbard Findley, Et Al. v. Richard Odel Hubbard, Et Al.
M2017-01850-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jeffrey F. Stewart

This appeal arises from a civil action filed in 2016 to establish a constructive trust and/or resulting trust to a share of the $25,500,000 proceeds from a 2005 Tennessee Lottery ticket. The essence of the claim is that the defendants, who are the respective former spouses and mother and father in-law of the plaintiffs, wrongfully deprived the plaintiffs of their rightful shares to the lottery proceeds. The defendants filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motion to dismiss all claims for failure to state a claim on grounds including the statute of limitations. The plaintiffs responded contending, inter alia, that their respective claims did not accrue until 2007 for one of them and 2010 for the other, and that their claims were timely because the “catch all” 10 year statute of limitations in Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-110(a)(3) applied to constructive and resulting trusts. The trial court disagreed and dismissed all claims as time barred. We affirm. 

Marion County Court of Appeals 07/02/18