Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 10/31/2014
Format: 10/31/2014
Reginald Maurice Adkins v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02481-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Reginald Maurice Adkins, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 convictions for first degree murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery and his life-plus-twelve-years sentence.  The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred by denying him relief.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Conley R. Fair v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00406-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Conley R. Fair, appeals the Unicoi County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 1997 convictions for first degree murder and attempted first degree murder and his life-plus-thirty-five-years sentence. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by (1) denying him relief because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and (2) failing to make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding his claim that he was denied his right to confront witnesses. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Unicoi County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Jermaine Carlton Jordan v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02497-CCA-R3-ECN

Petitioner, Jermaine Carlton Jordan, pled guilty to one count of attempted first degree murder and one count of especially aggravated kidnapping in April 2007.  Six years later, he filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, claiming that he should be granted a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.  The coram nobis court summarily dismissed his petition as time-barred.  Petitioner appealed, arguing that due process considerations require tolling the statute of limitations.  Upon thorough review of the record, we determine that Petitioner has neither alleged the nature of the evidence nor when it was discovered sufficiently for us to determine whether it qualifies as a later-arising ground for relief.  Therefore, we hold that due process does not require tolling the statute of limitations.  We affirm the decision of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Reid Quarles
M2013-00117-CCA-R3-CD

Calvin Reid Quarles, Defendant, was convicted by a Williamson County Jury for theft of property valued over $500.  After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant perfected this appeal.  The following issues are presented for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in giving the jury charge partially before and partially after closing arguments; and (2) whether the trial court erred by issuing a supplemental jury instruction.  After a review of the applicable authorities and the record, we conclude that Defendant waived any challenge to the trial court’s completing the jury instructions after closing argument by acquiescing and by failing to raise the issue in a motion for new trial.  Further, we conclude that the trial court did not commit error in answering a question posed by the jury during deliberations.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Dandarius Woods
M2014-00194-CCA-R9-CD

Defendant, Dandarius Woods, was charged with one count of aggravated rape and one count of rape.  He filed a motion to suppress a statement that he made to police, alleging that his statements were coerced by implied promises of leniency.  After a hearing, the trial court granted the motion, finding that Defendant’s statements were not voluntary.  The State sought an interlocutory appeal.  Upon thorough review of the record, we find that the detective did not imply that Defendant would be released or that Defendant would receive treatment in lieu of a jail sentence if he confessed to rape.  Therefore, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Robert Koscinski v. Hamilton County Tennessee, et al
E2014-00097-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the termination of Robert Koscinski (“Koscinski”) from his employment as a corrections officer with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. Koscinski had been found to be unfit for duty based upon a psychological evaluation. Koscinski appealed his termination to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Civil Service Board “the Board”). The Board upheld Koscinski’s termination. Koscinski filed an application for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). After hearing arguments, the Trial Court entered an order denying Koscinski’s writ of certiorari. Koscinski timely appealed to this Court. We find and hold that the Board applied the correct legal standard, and that the Board’s factual findings were supported by substantial and material evidence. We affirm the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/31/14
Jackie D. Owens v. Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, et al
E2014-01766-COA-R3-CV

The judgment from which the pro se incarcerated appellant, Jackie D. Owens, seeks to appeal was entered on December 17, 2013. The Notice of Appeal was filed more than thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the December 17, 2013 judgment, even considering the date upon which it appears the appellant placed the Notice of Appeal in the mail for filing with the trial court clerk (August 26, 2014). See Tenn. R. App. P. 20(g). The appellee, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority, filed a motion to dismiss this appeal based upon the untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal. Because the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal and grant the motion to dismiss.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Allen Lester, Jr.
M2014-00225-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Robert Allen Lester, Jr., was indicted by the Dekalb County Grand Jury in fourteen separate cases for thirteen counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, one count of aggravated burglary, four counts of burglary, eleven counts of theft of property valued under $500, one count of theft of property valued over $500, and six counts of theft of property valued over $1,000.  Subsequently, Defendant entered into negotiated guilty pleas to eleven counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of burglary.  The plea agreement called for an effective sentence of eight years, the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court at a sentencing hearing.  At the hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve the sentence in incarceration.  He appeals, challenging the denial of an alternative sentence.  After our review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the judgment form in Case Number 2013-CR-127 should be corrected to reflect a conviction and sentence for burglary rather than auto burglary.  Further, the matter is remanded to the trial court to resolve inconsistencies between the plea provisions and the corresponding judgments in order to yield an effective eight-year sentence and to correct any other clerical errors which may exist.  We determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alternative sentence to Defendant due to his extensive criminal history, because measures less restrictive had been applied to Defendant in the past, and in order to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offenses.  Accordingly, the matter is affirmed in part and remanded in part.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Dana Crumley
M2013-02502-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Dana Crumley, appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s order denying her motion for a reduced sentence.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
Bonnie Ellen Pierre v. Edward Joseph Pierre
E2013-01864-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce case, Edward Joseph Pierre (“Husband”) appeals the trial court’s decision refusing to grant him relief under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02. Husband argues that the trial court’s divorce judgment based upon irreconcilable differences should be set aside and the case reopened because the parties’ marital dissolution agreement (“MDA”), which was duly approved by the trial court and incorporated into the judgment, allegedly fails to equitably divide the marital estate. Husband voluntarily signed the MDA before a notary public but declined to read it before he signed it. Finding no grounds for Rule 60.02 relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Walter Allen Gault v. Jano Janoyan et al.
E2014-00218-COA-R3-CV

This case concerns a boundary line dispute. Walter Allen Gault (“Plaintiff”) sued Jano Janoyan and Pinnacle Bank (“Defendants”) seeking a declaratory judgment 1 that, by way of adverse possession, he is the rightful owner of a triangle-shaped piece of land, 41.59 feet at its base and approximately 302 feet on each of its two sides. The disputed area is within the deed boundaries of the property owned by Janoyan, the Plaintiff’s next door neighbor. (See attached exhibit.) The parties’ properties are in Forest View, a residential subdivision in Knoxville. Defendants filed an answer and a counterclaim for ejectment and quiet title to the property. Both parties moved for summary judgment. After a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment to the Defendants. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Carol Payne McKinnis v. Sandra Kim Hammons
E2013-02733-COA-R3-CV

Carol Payne McKinnis (“Seller”) brought suit against Sandra Kim Hammons (“Purchaser”) to enforce an oral contract for the sale of real property. Seller sought a judgment for the amount allegedly due under the parties’ agreement. Purchaser moved for summary judgment based on her contention that the action was barred by the Statute of Frauds as codified at Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-2-101(2012). The trial court granted the motion. We vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Sherry Harper v. Bradley County, Tennessee
E2014-00107-COA-R9-CV

The issue presented on this appeal is whether a plaintiff who brings a health care liability action against a governmental entity under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“the GTLA”) is entitled to the 120-day extension of the statute of limitations provided by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c)(Supp. 2014) under the current version of the Health Care Liability Act (“the HCLA”). This inquiry focuses on the effect of the 2011 amendment to the HCLA that expressly includes “claims against the state or a political subdivision thereof” within the definition of “health care liability action.” Applying the principles set forth by the Supreme Court in Cunningham v. Williamson Cnty. Hosp. Dist., 405 S.W.3d 41 (Tenn. 2013), we hold that the 2011 amendment demonstrates a clear intent on the part of the General Assembly to allow the GTLA’s one-year statute of limitations to be extended by 120 days in cases where a plaintiff satisfies the requirements of the HCLA. We affirm the judgment of the trial court denying defendant Bradley County’s motion to dismiss.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 10/30/14
Theodore James Nugent v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00014-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Theodore James Nugent, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his timely petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2012 guilty-pleaded convictions of domestic assault and aggravated stalking on the grounds that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were unknowing and involuntary.  Because the record supports the decision of the post-conviction court, we affirm that court’s order.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
Jeffrey Wayne Robertson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02023-CCA-R3-CO

The petitioner, Jeffery Wayne Robertson, was convicted in 1998 of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal.  State v. Robertson, 130 S.W.3d 842, 844 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2003).  Subsequently, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, one of the issues raised being that trial counsel was ineffective for not challenging “expert testimony about the results of a Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis (‘CBLA’) performed on evidence gathered by law enforcement.”  Jeffrey Wayne Robertson v. State, No. M2007-01378-CCA-R3-PC, 2009 WL 277073, at *9 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 5, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 15, 2009).  Unsuccessful with that argument, he then raised a similar claim in a petition for writ of error coram nobis, the denial of which is the basis for this appeal.  In that petition, he again focused on the CBLA evidence at his trial, pointing this time to the “newly discovered evidence” that the FBI “suspended performing ‘bullet lead analysis’ in 2004 and ceased entirely performing such examinations and providing such testimony in 2005.”  The coram nobis court denied the petition, concluding that the CBLA evidence issue had previously been argued and the only newly discovered evidence was the fact that the FBI was no longer using the test.  Following our review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
JIm Ferguson v. Middle Tennessee State University
M2012-00890-SC-R11-CV

A jury found that an employer retaliated against an employee in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”) and awarded the employee compensatory damages. The Court of Appeals reversed the award, holding that the employee had failed to prove that his supervisor had knowledge of his protected activity when she took adverse action against him. We hold that the jury’s verdict is supported by material evidence from which the jury could infer that the supervisor knew that the employee had filed a lawsuit for discrimination when she engaged in retaliatory conduct. We reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals, reinstate the jury verdict, and remand to the Court of Appeals for a review of the award of damages.

Rutherford County Supreme Court 10/29/14
Jim Ferguson v. Middle Tennessee State University
M2012-00890-SC-R11-CV

A jury found that an employer retaliated against an employee in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”) and awarded the employee compensatory damages. The Court of Appeals reversed the award, holding that the employee had failed to prove that his supervisor had knowledge of his protected activity when she took adverse action against him. We hold that the jury’s verdict is supported by material evidence from which the jury could infer that the supervisor knew that the employee had filed a lawsuit for discrimination when she engaged in retaliatory conduct. We reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals, reinstate the jury verdict, and remand to the Court of Appeals for a review of the award of damages.

Supreme Court 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Jamayl Stoudemire
E2013-02054-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Jamayl Stoudemire, was charged by indictment with three counts of attempted first degree premeditated murder (Counts One through Three), three counts of aggravated assault (Counts Four through Six), and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony (Count Seven). Defendant entered a best interest plea of guilty to three counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, as charged in Counts Four, Five, and Six. The remaining counts of the indictment were dismissed. The parties agreed that the three counts would run concurrently with the trial court to determine length and manner of service. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to five years for each conviction of aggravated assault to be served concurrently in the Department of Correction as a Range I offender. The trial court also denied Defendant’s request to be placed on judicial diversion. Defendant raises two issues on appeal. He argues that his five-year sentence is excessive and that the trial court should have ordered judicial diversion. After a thorough review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Adrian R. Brown
E2014-00673-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Adrian R. Brown, was convicted in 1995 of three counts of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony, and one count of the sale of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Class B felony. The appellant was given concurrent sentences of eight years’ imprisonment for the Class B felony and six years’ imprisonment for each Class C felony. The appellant entered the community corrections program, and he was recommended for a transfer to probation one year later. In October 2003, shortly before his eight-year sentence was set to expire, a violation of probation affidavit was completed. However, the petition for revocation of the appellant’s probation was dismissed in 2005. The appellant now challenges his sentences as illegal, asserting that he did not receive the pretrial jail credits to which he was entitled. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the issue is moot, and accordingly, the trial court properly dismissed the appellant’s motion to correct his sentence.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Quinisha Renee Brabson
E2013-02335-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Quinisha Renee Brabson, was convicted after a jury trial of second degree murder, a Class A felony. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, asserting that the defendant should either have been acquitted as acting in selfdefense or convicted only of the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Eric Parker
E2013-02339-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Eric Parker, was convicted after a jury trial of aggravated domestic assault by reckless conduct, a Class D felony, and he was sentenced by the trial court to four years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant asserts that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict; (2) the proof at trial constituted a variance from or constructive amendment to the indictment; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motions related to a continuance to allow for expert testimony; (4) the trial court erred in not giving a corrective instruction regarding improper prosecutorial argument; (5) the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence at sentencing; and (6) the trial court misapplied enhancement and mitigating factors and improperly refused alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we discern no error and affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Randy Ray Ramsey
E2013-01951-CCA-R3-CD

A Cocke County Jury convicted Defendant, Randy Ray Ramsey, of second-degree murder. He received a sentence of twenty-five years to be served concurrently with a federal sentence for drug-related convictions. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for second degree murder and that the trial court improperly sentenced him. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cocke County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
Michael J. Shipp v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00065-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Michael J. Shipp, stands convicted of first degree premeditated murder and aggravated robbery and is serving an effective life sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  In his post-conviction petition, petitioner claimed that he did not receive effective assistance of counsel at trial because his attorney failed to seek suppression of his statement to the police.  The post-conviction court denied relief.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
Nelson V. Plana v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00359-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Nelson V. Plana, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged the petitioner’s 2004 Montgomery County Circuit Court jury convictions of two counts of first degree murder.  In this appeal, the petitioner claims entitlement to post-conviction relief based upon the allegedly ineffective assistance of his trial counsel.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert A. Bass
M2013-02717-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Robert A. Bass, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of assault, a Class A misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-101(a)(2) (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days on probation.   On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury regarding self-defense.  We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new trial.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14