Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 05/04/2016
Format: 05/04/2016
Carl Jones, Jr. v. Doug Cook. et al.
E2015-01371-CCA-R3-HC

Pro se petitioner, Carl Jones, Jr., appeals the Bledsoe County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal, the petitioner argues that his judgment of conviction is void because the trial court failed to award him jail credit for time served on community corrections. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the habeas court and remand this matter for entry of an amended judgment awarding the petitioner 259 days of jail credit.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
William T. Minton v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00986-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, William T. Minton, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Sara Anne Neumann
E2015-00945-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Sara Anne Neumann, was charged with one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”). The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence from the traffic stop, arguing that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion that she was committing a traffic violation to justify the stop. The trial court agreed and granted the motion to suppress. The State now appeals, arguing that the officer’s observation of the defendant and his radar gun constituted reasonable suspicion. Following a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we conclude that the evidence preponderates against the findings of the trial court. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Pamela Moses
W2014-02220-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se defendant, Pamela Moses, appeals the Shelby County Circuit Court’s dismissal of her appeal of her convictions in the Bartlett Municipal Court for speeding and illegally parking in a handicapped parking space. Among other things, she argues that her notice of appeal was timely and that the trial court’s dismissal for failure to prosecute was improper because she was not notified of her trial date, in violation of her substantive and procedural due process rights. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
Marquon Green v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00162-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Marquon L. Green, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. More specifically he contends that trial counsel (1) failed to adequately communicate with him; (2) failed to file a motion to suppress his confession; (3) failed to prepare him to testify at trial; and (4) failed to adequately question and impeach the State's witnesses. Petitioner also argues that appellate counsel failed to address whether Petitioner's statement was the result of a coerced confession. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel or appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Marvin Johnson
W2015-00783-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Marvin Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-202 (2014). The trial court imposed a life sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, (3) the trial court erred by admitting an autopsy photograph of the victim, and (4) the trial court erred by denying his request for transcripts. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
John D. Glass v. Suntrust Bank, et al.
W2015-01603-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a trust. A beneficiary of the trust filed this lawsuit against the bank that served as trustee of the trust, alleging that the bank mismanaged the trust in various respects and violated several duties owed to the beneficiary. After a five-day bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the trustee-bank on all claims. The bank was awarded its attorney's fees and expenses. The beneficiary appeals. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Harris
W2015-00500-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Joseph Harris, appeals as of right from his jury conviction for aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction because violence was only used after the taking of the automobile had been completed; (2) that the trial court should have declared a mistrial when an alleged violation of Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), took place by a witness's reference to a co-defendant's statement that incriminated the Defendant; (3) that the trial court should have instructed the jury on joyriding as lesser-included offense of theft; and (4) that the trial court should have issued a special instruction on when a “taking” occurred by including additional language from State v. Swift, 308 S.W.3d 827 (Tenn. 2010). Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Patton Benfield
W2015-00532-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Kevin Patton Benfield, was convicted by a Henderson County jury of one count of aggravated assault and received an effective sentence of six years' confinement. On appeal, the sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction. Upon our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
Ameale Hudson v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01096-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Ameale Hudson, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel‘s failure to include in his motion for new trial the issue of the trial court‘s denial of two of the Petitioner‘s pretrial motions, which resulted in the waiver of the issues on direct appeal. He further asserts that the cumulative effect of trial counsel‘s errors entitles him to post-conviction relief. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
Rogers Group, Inc. v. Phillip E. Gilbert
M2015-01044-COA-R3-CV

Judgment debtor appeals the entry of a charging order which subjected the debtor’s interest in a limited liability company to satisfaction of the judgment debt.  Finding that the charging order is not a final judgment for purposes of appeal, we dismiss the appeal and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/03/16
Daniel B. Eisenstein v. WTVF-TV, et al.
M2015-00422-COA-R3-CV

On remand from a prior appeal, the parties engaged in discovery and the defendants then moved for summary judgment on the two remaining issues – claims of false light invasion of privacy against a television station and its employees. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the standard of actual malice was not met and awarding discretionary costs against the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed. We affirm.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/03/16
Douglas Brent Walker v. G.UB.MK Constructors
E2015-00346-SC-R3-WC

In 2003, an employee sustained injuries to his spine, pelvis, and shoulder while working for his employer. In 2007, the trial court determined that the employee was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the work-related injury and that his employer was responsible for authorized future medical treatment directly related to the work-related injury. In 2013, the employee filed a motion to compel medical benefits, asserting that his employer had refused to pay for medical treatment determined to be reasonable and necessary by his authorized treating physician. The trial court denied the motion, and the employee appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/02/16
In re Tristan B.
E2015-01993-COA-R3-PT

Father appeals the trial court's determination that termination of his parental rights is in the child's best interest. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence to terminate Father's parental rights on grounds of abandonment by wanton disregard, persistent conditions, and substantial non-compliance with a permanency plan. The trial court thereafter determined that termination is in the child's best interest. Discerning no error, we affirm both the trial court's rulings regarding grounds and its determination that termination is in the child's best interest.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 05/02/16
Angela Michelle Newberry v. Jeremy Mack Newberry
E2015-01801-COA-R3-CV

Father filed a petition to modify the parties’ permanent parenting plan to make him the primary residential parent. The trial court granted Father’s petition, finding that there had been a material change of circumstances and that a change of primary residential parent was in the best interest of the two younger children. Because the trial court applied an erroneous legal standard in making its determination of a material change of circumstances, we vacate and remand.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 05/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Duvil Lunsford
W2014-01926-CCA-R3-CD

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Ricky Duvil Lunsford, of attempted voluntary manslaughter and employing a deadly weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it: (1) failed to properly instruct the jury; (2) excluded an email from the Defendant to the victim about the decline of their marriage; (3) prevented the Defendant from testifying about the victim's prior aggressive tendencies; and (4) excluded evidence of the victim's prior domestic assault charge. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury as to self-defense. We reverse the judgments of conviction and remand for a new trial.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
Jeremy Curtis Workman v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00531-CCA-R3-PC

A Greene County jury convicted the Petitioner, Jeremy Curtis Workman, of five counts of rape of a child and two counts of incest, and the trial court sentenced him to serve twenty-five years, at 100%, followed by twelve years, at 30%. This Court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions. State v. Jeremy Workman, No. E2010-02278-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 6210667 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Dec. 13, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 16, 2012). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged, inter alia, that his trial counsel failed to present a defense by not presenting witnesses on the Petitioner's behalf and by failing to subpoena Dr. Chang, a doctor who examined the victim and who the Petitioner asserts gave “different conclusions.” After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief. We affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Greene County General Sessions Courts 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Nicholas Grace
W2015-01177-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Nicholas Grace, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-402. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
Kevin Anthony Dickson Junior v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01443-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Kevin Anthony Dickson Junior, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner's primary contention is that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because he is a sovereign citizen who is not subject to the laws of the State of Tennessee, though he also includes an allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel as well as other alleged constitutional violations. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Alexander Carney
W2015-01265-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Alexander K. Carney, pled guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court to possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, for which he received an effective sentence of five years in the Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to his sentence for a conviction in a separate case. As a condition of his guilty plea, the defendant attempted to reserve a certified question of law regarding the legality of the traffic stop that led to the discovery of the drugs. Because we agree with the State that the certified question of law is not dispositive of the case, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Alexander Carney - Dissenting
W2015-01265-CCA-R3-CD

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the appeal should be dismissed. However, when the issue is addressed on its merits, the convictions should be affirmed. The trial court found that Defendant was not wearing his seatbelt, which was a violation of the law, and that fact gave the trooper legal grounds to stop Defendant. By the limited issue in the certified question of law, Defendant (who presumably drafted the certified question) challenged only the stop and seizure of his vehicle on the ground that he was driving without wearing his seatbelt. The State could have insisted that the certified question include the issue relied upon by the majority in order to justify the seizure of the drug evidence, but did not. Thus, neither the State nor this court can go beyond the precise issue presented. The appellate court is “limited to consideration of the question preserved.” State v. Day, 263 S.W.3d 891, 900 (Tenn. 2008).

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Justin Tyler
W2015-00161-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Justin Tyler, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to twenty-five years and ten years, respectively, to be served consecutively in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in admitting the video of the victim's forensic interview, (2) the prosecutor committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument, and (3) the cumulative effect of the errors warrants reversal. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Randy Jackson
W2015-02021-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Randy Jackson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and attempt to commit aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-402 (2014), 39-12-101 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to consecutive terms of eleven years for aggravated robbery and nine years for attempted aggravated robbery, for an effective twenty-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
Sven Hadjopoulos et al. v. Alexandra Sponcia et al.
E2015-00793-COA-R3-CV

This is a grandparent visitation case. Sven Hadjopoulos (“Grandfather”) and Mary Lou Hadjopoulos (“Grandmother”) (“Grandparents,” collectively) filed a petition seeking visitation with their minor granddaughter (“the Child”). Alexandra Sponcia (“Mother”) and Christopher Sponcia (“Father”) (“Parents,” collectively) opposed the petition and the requested visitation. After a trial, the Chancery Court for Greene County (“the Trial Court”) found that substantial harm likely would come to the Child should visitation with Grandparents cease. The Trial Court, therefore, ordered grandparent visitation. Parents filed an appeal to this Court. We hold that the Trial Court’s final judgment is insufficient in a number of ways detailed herein, including its lack of a required best interest determination. We vacate the judgment of the Trial Court and remand for the Trial Court to enter a new, clarified final judgment in this case consistent with this Opinion.

Greene County Court of Appeals 04/28/16
Paul David Childs v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00994-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Paul David Childs, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel.  Specifically, the Petitioner alleges that trial counsel was ineffective (1) for failing to “adequately inform” the Petitioner about “his rights regarding a preliminary hearing” and failing to request a preliminary hearing; (2) for failing to impeach the victim with an alleged prior inconsistent statement; (3) for preventing the Petitioner from testifying at trial; (4) for failing to sufficiently prepare for the trial, failing to present any witnesses at trial, and pursuing a “highly questionable” trial strategy; and (5) for advising the Petitioner to waive his right to appeal his conviction.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/28/16