Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 07/25/2016
Format: 07/25/2016
Denver Napier et al v. Gail Howard et al.
E2015-01222-COA-R3-CV

Gail Howard purchased at auction a subdivision lot in Grainger County. The deed to Howard’s lot, as well as the deeds to the other lots in the subdivision, contains a restrictive covenant prohibiting “single wide mobile homes.” Howard converted her lot into a campground with sixteen camper trailer sites for rent. Denver Napier, Sheryl Napier, and Jeffrey Bryant (collectively the plaintiffs), each of whom had purchased a lot in the subdivision, filed a complaint against Howard seeking an injunction enjoining her from using her property as a campground. They based their complaint on the restrictive covenant against “single wide mobile homes.” The trial court held that the restrictive covenant prohibited, in the court’s words, “camping trailers and/or single wide mobile homes” in the subdivision. Accordingly, the trial court permanently enjoined Howard and all other owners of lots from having, again in the court’s words, “camping trailers/single wide mobile homes” on their property. Howard appeals. We affirm.

Grainger County Court of Appeals 07/25/16
Christopher Denton v. Edna Taylor et al.
E2015-01726-COA-R3-CV

This case arises out of a head-on automobile accident that resulted in the death of Howard Taylor, the driver of one of the cars, and serious injuries to Christopher Denton (plaintiff), the other driver. Plaintiff brought this negligence action against the decedent’s widow, Edna Taylor, and his estate. There were no witnesses to the accident, and plaintiff has no memory of what happened. Some fifteen months after the complaint was filed, the sole remaining defendant, Edna Taylor, moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient to establish causation. In support of the motion, defendant filed the affidavit of the officer who investigated the accident, in which he stated that he “wasn’t able to locate any roadway evidence that indicated the point of impact.” After a hearing on defendant’s motion, plaintiff filed a motion asking the trial court to grant him more time to obtain and file an accident reconstruction “report.” The court denied the motion and granted summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff provided no evidence establishing that the decedent’s negligence caused the accident. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 07/25/16
Carla Landrum et al v. Methodist Medical Center et al.
E2015-01733-COA-R3-CV

This is a premises liability action in which the plaintiffs, a husband and wife, filed suit against the defendant hospital for personal injuries and other damages resulting from wife’s slip and fall. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate defendant’s actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition by failing to proffer material evidence establishing the cause, source, or duration of the dangerous condition. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 07/25/16
Jack Helmboldt et al v. Michael R. Jugan et al.
E2015-01664-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns certain declarations of covenants and restrictions (i.e., a buffer easement) on a piece of property. The purchasers of the property filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the foreclosure by the bank on its superior mortgage extinguished by operation of law any covenants and restrictions recorded after the bank’s deed of trust was recorded. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the purchasers. The holders of the buffer easement containing the covenants and restrictions appeal. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Freddie Ali Bell
M2015-01999-CCA-R3-CD

In conjunction with the entry of a nolo contendere plea to driving under the influence (“DUI”), Defendant, Freddie Ali Bell, reserved a certified question for appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) in which he asked this Court to determine whether the record supports the finding of probable cause or reasonable suspicion to legally permit a seizure of Defendant and his vehicle.  After a review, we determine that the evidence supports a finding of probable cause for the stop.  Consequently, the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress is affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Wells
E2015-00561-CCA-R3-CD

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Kevin Wells, of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; two counts of possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, a Class D felony; and driving on a revoked license, a Class B misdemeanor, and he received an effective thirteen-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, by allowing the State to introduce text messages from a codefendant's cellular telephone into evidence, and by admitting his statement into evidence. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
Edward Bruce Coleman v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01747-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Edward Bruce Coleman, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2010 Davidson County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated assault, for which he received a sentence of 12 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that the order denying post-conviction relief was inadequate and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
In re Estate of Alys Harris Lipscomb
W2015-02277-COA-R3-CV

Appellants appeal from an order that was not final pursuant to Rule 58 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Ardell Allen
E2015-00825-CCA-R3-CD

Based on a tip from a confidential informant, police stopped the Defendant and ultimately discovered cocaine in his pocket. He was charged with possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a daycare, a Class B felony. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the trial court granted. The State appeals, arguing that the confidential informant's credibility and basis of knowledge were sufficiently established, giving officers reasonable suspicion to seize the Defendant. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
Danny Ray Lacy v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02345-CCA-R3-ECN

In 1996, a Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Danny Ray Lacy, of first degree felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the Petitioner's conviction and sentence. State v. Lacy, 983 S.W.2d 686 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997). The Petitioner filed an unsuccessful petition for habeas corpus relief. Danny Ray Lacy v. Cherry Lindamon, Warden, No. M2009-00072-CCA-R3-CO, 2009 WL 3029619, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Sept. 22, 2009), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The Petitioner then filed this petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that the Jackson Police Department possessed exculpatory evidence. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition, and, after review, we affirm that judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
Raygan L. Presley v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2016-00182-CCA-R3-HC

In 2008, a Warren County jury convicted the Petitioner, Raygan L. Presley, of three counts of aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of twenty-two years, to be served at 100%. Upon review, this Court ordered that all the sentences run concurrently, for a total effective sentence of eleven years, to be served at 100%. See State v. Raygan L. Presley, No. M2007-02487-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 3843849, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Aug. 18, 2008), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. In December 2015, the Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief alleging that his sentence had expired. He asserted that, in addition to the pretrial jail credits, he had earned 140 days of behavior credits and 492 days of program credits, meaning that his sentence expired on November 1, 2015. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that the face of the judgments did not show that his sentence had expired and that he must pursue relief pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred when it dismissed his petition. After review, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Reinsburg
W2014-02436-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Aaron Reinsberg, was convicted by a Shelby County Jury of two counts of rape (Counts 1 and 2), one count of assault (Count 3), and two counts of official misconduct (Counts 4 and 5). At the sentencing hearing, the trial court merged Counts 2 and 3 into Count 1, and Count 5 was merged into Count 4. The trial court imposed a sentence of eleven years for rape in Count 1 and one year for official misconduct in Count 4 to be served concurrently for an effective sentence of eleven years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was not sufficient to support his rape convictions and that the trial court erred in sentencing him to eleven years. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. John A. Bailey
W2015-02330-CCA-R3-CD

On October 26, 2007, the defendant, John A. Bailey, pled guilty to aggravated robbery and evading arrest and received an eight-year sentence for aggravated robbery, two-year sentence for evading arrest, and almost five years of pretrial jail credit. The trial court then imposed alternative sentences of unsupervised state probation for both convictions. The sentences were to be served concurrent with one another and a prior federal sentence, for which the defendant was already incarcerated. The defendant’s state sentences expired on December 21, 2010, yet he filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence on July 6, 2015, asserting in part that he illegally received probation for the aggravated robbery conviction. The trial court summarily denied the motion without a hearing and without appointing counsel for the defendant. The defendant now appeals, maintaining that his sentence was illegal. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s untimely motion to correct his sentence.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Mack C. Stone
M2016-00273-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Mack C. Stone, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his 1992 Davidson County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions of the sale of cocaine.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
Arthur Ray Turner v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01572-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Arthur Ray Turner, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2012 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated rape, and attempted aggravated rape, for which he received a sentence of 70 years.  In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Demetrius J. Pirtle and Cordarius R. Maxwell
W2014-02222-CCA-R3-CD

The defendants, Demetrius J. Pirtle and Cordarius R. Maxwell, were each convicted by a jury of one count of robbery, a Class C felony; one count of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; six counts of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; six counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony; one count of vandalism of property worth $1,000 or more, a Class D felony; and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. After merging the aggravated assault convictions into the attempted second degree murder convictions, the trial court sentenced both defendants to an effective thirty-year sentence. On appeal, Mr. Pirtle challenges only the sufficiency of the evidence, asserting that his identity was insufficiently proven on all counts save the vandalism conviction and that the elements of robbery were not established. Mr. Maxwell raises the same issues as Mr. Pirtle, and he also challenges the conviction on the weapons offense as inconsistent with the other parts of the jury's verdict and contests the imposition of consecutive sentences. The appeals were consolidated. Following our review, we affirm the defendants' sentences and convictions.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
Norman C. Reece, II v. Jennifer Louise Reece
E2015-01915-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce action, Norman C. Reece, II (“Father”) appeals the June 9, 2015 order of the Circuit Court for Johnson County (“the Trial Court”) which, inter alia dismissed Father's motion for contempt against Jennifer Louise Reece (“Mother”) and adjusted visitation with, and support for, the parties' minor children. Father's brief on appeal severely fails to comply with Tenn. R. App. P. 27. We, therefore, find that Father has waived his issues on appeal. Furthermore, the record on appeal contains no transcript and Father's statement of the evidence contains nothing whatsoever to show what evidence was heard by the Trial Court. As such, the record presented to this Court precludes meaningful review of the issues on appeal. Given all this, we affirm.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 07/22/16
David Reed v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01441-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner seeks habeas corpus relief, alleging that he is imprisoned despite the fact that his sentence has expired. The crux of the petitioner's argument is that his two-and-one-half-year sentence for burglary was to be served prior to his two-year sentence for vandalism and that the burglary sentence therefore expired prior to the time he violated his probation. He also disputes the award of sentencing credits. Because the face of the record shows that the petitioner's sentence for burglary was to be served after his sentence for vandalism and that the probationary period had not expired at the time of revocation, we conclude that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition, and we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
In Re: Estate of Joan Uhl Pierce
E2016-00013-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a dispute over purported wills. Joan Uhl Pierce (“Decedent”) died and was survived by five living children (“Petitioners”). Another of Decedent’s children, Brock Andrus, predeceased her, and he was survived by two adult children of his own (“Respondents”). The Administrator of Decedent’s estate filed a petition for declaratory judgment in the Chancery Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”) seeking a determination as to whether Decedent died testate or intestate. Petitioners filed a verified petition seeking to admit a purported holographic will of Decedent’s to probate, under which Respondents did not inherit. Respondents asserted that the document, a completed questionnaire, was not a valid holographic will. After a hearing, the Trial Court entered an order in which it held that the questionnaire was not a holographic will, and instead entered into probate an earlier purported will and codicil of Decedent’s in which Respondents did inherit. Petitioners appeal. We hold that the questionnaire is not a valid holographic will. However, we hold also that the Trial Court erred in admitting the putative will and codicil into probate when there was no verified petition before the Trial Court seeking their admission. We vacate the admission of the putative will and codicil and remand for the Trial Court to address the lack of a verified petition. The judgment of the Trial Court is affirmed, in part, and, vacated, in part, and this cause is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/22/16
Micah Seamus Reynolds, et al v. Bethany Rich, et al
E2015-01245-COA-R3-CV

Micah Seamus Reynolds (“Plaintiff”) and Susan Reynolds sued Ted Rich (“Defendant”) and Bethany Rich for negligence after Plaintiff fell while assisting with the installation of a roof on a house. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. After a hearing, the Circuit Court for Carter County (“Trial Court”) granted the defendants summary judgment after finding and holding, inter alia, that “[t]he record fails to show any evidence of a violation of any duty to [Plaintiff] that [defendants] owed to him . . . .” Plaintiffs appeal to this Court. We find and hold that the defendants owed a duty to Plaintiff and that there are genuine disputed issues of material fact regarding whether defendants breached this duty. As such, summary judgment was granted improperly. We, therefore, reverse the grant of summary judgment and remand this case to the Trial Court for further proceedings.

Carter County Court of Appeals 07/22/16
Amanda Parker Jones v. Parker Jones
W2015-01304-COA-R3-CV

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Tenn. R. App. P. 3(a).

Gibson County Court of Appeals 07/22/16
Wilma J. White v. James Dale White, Jr.
M2015-02388-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal of an order denying Husband’s motion to alter or amend the trial court’s judgment modifying Husband’s alimony obligation. Husband argues that he was not provided adequate notice that a hearing held on July 6, 2015 was the final hearing in the matter and was therefore deprived of due process. We affirm.

Clay County Court of Appeals 07/22/16
Melinda K. Fields v. Neil M. Friedman
E2016-00328-COA-R3-JV

Mother appeals the juvenile court's child support determinations. Because Mother failed to file a brief in compliance with the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and failed to present arguments to support her contentions, we affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 07/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Carmelo Gonzalez-Fonesca
M2015-01322-CCA-R3-CD

This is Defendant’s, Carmelo Gonzalez-Fonesca’s, direct appeal from his convictions by a jury of one count of possession of 150 grams or more of heroin with the intent to sell or distribute and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to prepare and package a controlled substance.  As a result, he was sentenced to an effective sentence of fifteen years in incarceration as a Range I, standard offender.  Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the expert testimony of Sergeant Gene Donegan, and the chain of custody with respect to the evidence.  After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Wayne Evans
M2015-00897-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Patrick Wayne Evans, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide by impairment, a Class B felony, with an agreed sentence length of eight years.  After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve his eight year sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court: (1) erroneously relied upon enhancement factors that are not applicable to the Defendant’s offense; (2) erroneously admitted improper evidence at the sentencing hearing; (3) failed to properly consider mitigating factors; (4) erroneously found the Defendant had no potential for rehabilitation; and (5) failed to comply with the purposes and principles of sentencing when it denied a sentence of “split confinement.”  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we reverse and remand to the trial court for re-sentencing.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16