Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 09/24/2018
Format: 09/24/2018
Rafia Nafees Khan v. Regions Bank
E2017-02454-COA-R3-CV

This is the third appeal arising from a disputed arbitration award. After the first appeal, this Court remanded the case to the trial court for the purpose of entering an order confirming the award in favor of Regions Bank (the Bank) “as to the Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust.” The trial court subsequently entered an order confirming the award against “the Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust” and “Rafia N. Khan as Trustee of the Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust.” Over twenty months later, Rafia Khan filed an independent action in equity asking the trial court to set aside its judgment confirming the award. Pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6), the Bank filed a motion to dismiss and raised the affirmative defense of res judicata. The trial court granted the Bank’s motion to dismiss on the basis of res judicata. We vacate the trial court’s findings with respect to res judicata. Nevertheless, we affirm the court’s dismissal of the case because Ms. Khan’s complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Knox County Court of Appeals 09/24/18
State of Tennessee v. Henry Cofrancesco, III
E2017-01675-CCA-R3-CD
Defendant, Henry Cofrancesco, III, was indicted by the Hamilton County Grand Jury for vehicular homicide, possession of cocaine, failure to yield, leaving the scene of an accident involving the death of another person, failure to render aid, DUI, and DUI per se. Defendant entered guilty pleas to vehicular homicide and DUI per se, and the remaining counts were dismissed upon motion of the State. Defendant received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days for his DUI conviction, and the trial court sentenced Defendant to nine years’ incarceration for his vehicular homicide conviction and merged the two convictions. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying alternative sentencing. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/24/18
State of Tennessee v. Billy Joe Harrah
E2017-01869-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Billy Joe Harrah, was convicted by a Sullivan County jury of rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, and incest, for which he received an effective sentence of forty years’ confinement. On appeal, he argues (1) the evidence was insufficient to support each of his convictions; and (2) the trial court improperly instructed the jury regarding flight. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/24/18
Doyale Montez Blacksmith v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02323-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Doyale Montez Blacksmith, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel because trial counsel (1) failed to file a motion to withdraw from representation after the Petitioner requested that he do so; (2) failed “to call witnesses to rebut the victim’s testimony”; and (3) gave the Petitioner “incorrect advice” regarding the Petitioner’s decision not to testify at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/24/18
200 Linden Avenue Properties, G.P., et al. v. Cheyenne Johnson, Shelby County Assessor of Property, et al.
W2017-02372-COA-R3-CV

Petitioner appeals from the Shelby County Circuit Court’s decision to grant summary judgment to the Respondents, Shelby County Assessor of Property and Shelby County Trustee, as to Petitioner’s claims challenging tax assessments issued by the Assessor of Property. We conclude that Tennessee Code Annotated section 67-5-1511 mandates that judicial review of property tax classification and valuation decisions are properly to chancery court. As such, we vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand with instructions to transfer this matter to the Shelby County Chancery Court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 09/24/18
State of Tennessee v. Mario M. Washington, Jr.
M2017-01601-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Mario M. Washington, Jr., pleaded guilty in the Dickson County Circuit Court to unlawful possession of a firearm, a Class D felony, possession of a Schedule II drug, a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of a Schedule IV drug, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1307(b)(1)(B) (2014) (unlawful possession of a firearm), 39-17-418 (possession of a controlled substance) (2014) (amended 2016). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant received a five-year sentence and reserved a certified question of law regarding the search of his residence, which he presents on appeal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
Xavier Todd v. Cherry Lindamood, Warden
M2018-00099-CCA-R3-HC

The Appellant, Xavier Todd, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
Quinton Cage v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00568-CCA-R3-HC

Petitioner, Quinton Cage, appeals the habeas corpus court’s dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. After a review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
Nicholas Keith Phillips v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00058-CCA-R3-PC

In this State appeal, the State challenges the post-conviction court’s grant of relief to the petitioner in the form of a new trial for his 2013 Rutherford County Circuit Court jury convictions of two counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The State asserts that the post-conviction court erred by concluding that the petitioner was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial and that, but for counsel’s deficient performance, the results of the petitioner’s trial would have been different. Because the evidence preponderates against the findings of the post-conviction court, we reverse the ruling of that court and vacate the order granting post-conviction relief.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
William Thomas Fiala v. Kelly Lauren Fiala
M2017-01280-COA-R3-CV

Mother appeals the trial court’s finding that a material change in circumstance occurred affecting the best interests of the child and that the child’s best interests were furthered by naming Father primary residential parent. We affirm the trial court’s judgment as modified. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Dalvin Smith
W2017-01915-CCA-R3-CD

After a jury trial, Defendant, Dalvin Smith, was convicted of two counts of reckless homicide, facilitation of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Defendant received a total effective sentence of thirty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering an excessive sentence. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Dalvin Smith - Concurring
W2017-01915-CCA-R3-CD

I concur in affirming the sentences in this case, but I would rule that the record is inadequate for a ruling on the merits, resulting in a determination that we must presume the propriety of the trial court’s sentencing decisions. Most often, when only a sentencing issue is raised on appeal, the appellant has pleaded guilty. In this case, the defendant was tried and convicted by a jury. The record on appeal, however, does not include a transcript of the trial evidence.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Marquette Benson aka Marquette Mukes
W2017-01276-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Marquette Benson, aka Marquette Mukes, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of two counts of convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a Class C felony, based on two different prior felonies. The trial court merged the counts into a single conviction and sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years in the Department of Correction. As best as we can understand the pro se Defendant’s brief and numerous supplemental motions he has filed with this court, he argues that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by: redacting a chronology of a 911 call, improperly commenting on the evidence, and presenting false testimony; the trial court prevented him from presenting his defense by barring the admission of a police report; and the trial court exhibited bias by its various evidentiary rulings that favored the prosecution. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Ronald Ellis
W2017-01035-CCA-R3-CD

On January 12, 2017, the Defendant, Ronald Ellis, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. The trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment in the Department of Correction. The Defendant argues on appeal that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction because he was mentally incapable of premeditation at the time of the murder. He further argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his confession and statement, asserting that both were obtained in violation of his Miranda rights, and that the aggregate effect of trial errors entitles him to a new trial. After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Timerell Nelson
W2017-02279-CCA-R3-CD

On August 25 and 26, 2017, the Defendant, Timerell Nelson, was convicted of especially aggravated robbery, attempted second degree murder, and employment of a firearm during the commission of criminal attempt second degree murder. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a total effective sentence of 16 years and the Defendant now argues on appeal that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his especially aggravated robbery conviction because the victim did not suffer serious bodily injury. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-401(a). After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Ariana Tarience Harris
W2017-02302-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Ariana Tarience Harris, appeals the trial court’s revocation of her probation, arguing that the court should have imposed an alternative sentence rather than ordering her to serve the balance of her original sentence incarcerated, and therefore abused its discretion. After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/18
Laura Cowan Coffey v. David L. Coffey Et Al.
E2017-00988-COA-R3-CV

This case involves events that span a period of some twenty years following the death of Steven Lee Coffey in a plane crash on July 13, 1995. The deceased was a successful owner of a securities business. Plaintiff, Laura Cowan Coffey, is his widow. In the deceased’s will, David L. Coffey (David the senior), the deceased’s father, was designated executor of his son’s estate. Plaintiff alleges in her complaint for fraud, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty, that David the senior breached his fiduciary duties and engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain for himself two highly-profitable assets of the estate, which ultimately sold for $45,000,000 in 2015 for the benefit of David the senior’s heirs. Plaintiff also sued David Michael Coffey (David the younger) - who is the son of David the senior - in the former’s capacity as trustee of the fortune resulting from the sale of the assets of the deceased. After a hearing on defendants’ motions for summary judgment, the court granted their motions, finding that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Plaintiff appeals. We hold that plaintiff has set forth specific facts showing that there are genuine issues of material fact pertaining to fraudulent concealment of plaintiff’s cause of action against the defendants rendering summary judgment inappropriate. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s judgment granting the defendants’ motions for summary judgment. This matter is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. T

Knox County Court of Appeals 09/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Marshall
E2017-01933-CCA-R3-CD

A Bledsoe County jury convicted the Defendant, Matthew Marshall, of attempted rape and attempted aggravated statutory rape. The trial court imposed consecutive ten-year and four-year sentences, respectively, for a total effective sentence of fourteen years. At his motion for new trial, the trial court amended the judgments to run the sentences concurrently, for an effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court made numerous evidentiary errors when it admitted certain statements or testimony as evidence and when it allowed several witnesses to testify. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/18
Yvonne Kimber v. City Of Knoxville, Tennessee
E2018-00940-COA-R3-CV

The Notice of Appeal in this case indicates on its face that the appellant is appealing from a decision entered on May 22, 2018. However, there is no final judgment in the proceedings below entered on May 22, 2018, or any other date. Because the case remains pending in the Chancery Court, we lack jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Knox County Court of Appeals 09/20/18
Bobby Murray Et Al. v. Dennis Miracle Et Al.
E2018-01530-COA-T10-CV

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, from the Trial Court’s denial of a successive motion to recuse filed by the Plaintiff, Loretta Murray (“Plaintiff”), during post-judgment proceedings in this case involving a property dispute between the parties to the litigation below. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal filed by Plaintiff, and determining that the record provided with the petition is insufficient to support reversal, we affirm.

Roane County Court of Appeals 09/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Yasin Solomon Hawkins
M2017-02439-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Yasin Solomon Hawkins, for aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statement to the police, which the trial court denied. The Defendant asserts that he was intoxicated when he made the statement to the police, and was thus unable to knowingly and voluntarily waive his Fifth Amendment rights. Following a bench trial, the Defendant was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced as a career offender to thirty years in the Department of Correction. The Defendant’s sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. We conclude that the trial court properly denied the motion to suppress and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/18
Courtney P. Brunetz v. Neil A. Brunetz
E2017-01391-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce action involving the father’s petition to modify the parties’ existing permanent parenting plan and the mother’s subsequent counter-petition, the trial court increased the father’s co-parenting time by ten days during the summer, for a total of 130 parenting days per year, and granted the mother sole decision-making authority with respect to the children’s education and extracurricular activities. The father has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s ruling in all respects.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 09/20/18
Christopher Young v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01106-CCA-R3-PC

In 2008, the Petitioner, Christopher Young, pleaded guilty to possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with a six-year sentence to be served on Community Corrections. In 2017, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court summarily dismissed as untimely filed. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that this matter should be remanded to the lower court to allow him to file an amended petition in light of recent case law. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/18
Taylor Sherrer Ex Rel Lilly S. Et Al. v. John B. Cleghorn Et Al.
M2018-00023-COA-R3-CV

This is a wrongful death case. Decedent was operating his motor vehicle in the early morning when he struck a bull in the middle of the road. As a result of the collision, Decedent’s vehicle careened off the road and flipped upside down into a nearby creek, where Decedent drowned. Plaintiffs, Decedent’s surviving spouse and children, sued Defendant, alleging that he was negligent in his ownership and control of the bull. Defendant denied ownership, possession, or control of the bull and moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. On appeal, Plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred at the summary judgment stage by weighing the evidence and making determinations as to the credibility of witnesses. We agree and reverse.

Lincoln County Court of Appeals 09/20/18
Quinton Bonner v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00925-CCA-R3-PC

In 2014, the Petitioner, Quinton Bonner, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, and the trial court imposed a sentence of ten years. The Petitioner then sought to withdraw his guilty plea on the basis that it was not knowingly and voluntarily entered and that his trial counsel ineffectively advised him concerning his plea. The trial court denied his motion, and this court affirmed its judgment. State v. Bonner, No. W2015-00812-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 1403308, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, April 7, 2016) no perm. app. filed. In 2016, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his guilty plea was entered involuntarily and that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed his petition on the grounds that the claims had been previously determined. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred when it summarily dismissed his petition. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/18