Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/17/2014
Format: 12/17/2014
William Lance Walker v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01305-CCA-R3-PC

A Marshall County jury convicted the Petitioner, William Lance Walker, of the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine and the delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine.  The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court.  State v. William Lance Walker, No. M2012-01319-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 1799988, at *6 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, April 29, 2013), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 filed.  The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective on multiple grounds.  The post-conviction court dismissed the petition after a hearing.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Michael Brandon Adams v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01025-CCA-R3-CD

The Petitioner, Michael Brandon Adams, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence.  The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred when it dismissed his motion without appointing counsel and without conducting an evidentiary hearing.  In his motion, the Petitioner asserts that his sentence is illegal on the grounds that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court properly denied the motion.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Tarrence Parham v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01437-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Tarrence Parham, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted second degree murder and reckless aggravated assault. On appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Terrence Wooden, also known as Terrence Wooten
W2014-00173-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Terrance Wooden, also known as Terrence Wooten, was convicted of the rape of the victim, who was confined to a wheelchair, and sentenced to confinement for twelve years at 100%. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Elm Children's Educational Trust v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
E2013-02482-COA-R3-CV

This Court entered an order in September of 2014 directing ELM Children’s Educational Trust (“the Trust”) to show good cause why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because the Notice of Appeal was signed by a non-attorney, non-party. The Trust failed to show good cause. We hold that a non-attorney trustee may not represent a purportedly pro se trust. As such, the Notice of Appeal signed by the non-attorney trustee was insufficient to initiate an appeal on behalf of the Trust. This appeal, therefore, is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/17/14
Sean William Lee v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00335-CCA-R3-ECN

The petitioner, Sean William Lee, pled guilty in 2004 to attempted aggravated sexual battery and was sentenced to three years, which then was suspended to six years probation. In 2013, after a probation violation warrant was filed against him, he filed a pleading styled “Motion to Revoke Probation and Impose a Sentence in Absentia.” He followed this pleading by filing a petition for writ of error coram nobis, based upon what he saw as newly discovered evidence. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition without a hearing, concluding that the statute of limitations for such a pleading had expired eight years earlier and no issues were raised which could be the basis for coram nobis relief. Following our review, we affirm the order of the coram nobis court dismissing the petition, pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Carlos Eaton v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00791-CCA-R3-ECN

The appellant, Carlos Eaton, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his 1995 guilty plea to first degree murder and his life sentence. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Leon Flannel v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00181-CCA-R3-ECN

The Petitioner, Leon Flannel, was convicted of murder in the perpetration of a theft and premeditated murder. In this appeal from the trial court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, the Petitioner argues that the individual tests performed by the defense’s expert witness, along with their results, should have been introduced at trial to bolster the Petitioner’s diminished capacity defense. Upon review, we find that the petition for writ of error coram nobis is barred by the statute of limitations. Additionally, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied relief on the merits.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Karl P. Cooper
M2013-01084-CCA-R3-CD

A Williamson County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Karl P. Cooper, of driving under the influence (DUI), second offense; speeding; and violating the open container law.  The appellant received a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days and was ordered to spend sixty days of the sentence in jail before being released on probation.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing the State to violate the rule of witness sequestration, that the trial court erred by sustaining the State’s objection to the appellant’s request to have the arresting officer demonstrate a field sobriety test, and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his DUI conviction.  The State concedes that the trial court erred by allowing the violation of the rule of sequestration but contends the error was harmless.  Upon review, we conclude that the violation of the rule of sequestration was reversible error; accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case is remanded for a new trial.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
William Carter King v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00512-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, William Carter King, appeals the Fentress County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution and his five-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that (1) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and (2) his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Fentress County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Toney R. Gonzales v. J.W. Carell Enterprises, LLC d/b/a Careall Home Care Services-Knoxville/McMinnville
E2013-02072-SC-R3-WC

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee alleged that he suffered a compensable injury to his lower back. The trial court ruled for the employer, finding that the employee was not a credible witness and had failed to carry his burden of proof. The employee appealed 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. At issue in this appeal is whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence records from the employee’s Social Security Disability proceedings and whether the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s decision that the employee failed to sustain his burden of proof. After a careful review, we find no error and affirm the trial court’s decision.

Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 12/17/14
Kem Ralph, et al. v. Scruggs Farm Supply LLC, et al.
W2014-00841-COA-R3-CV

This consolidated appeal stems from the attempted foreclosure of real property in Tipton and Haywood County. In commencing the present case, Plaintiffs filed complaints in Chancery Court in both Tipton and Haywood County seeking to enjoin foreclosure and to obtain an accounting of the financial transactions between them and Defendants. Both trial judges found that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. We affirm.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 12/17/14
Elizabeth B. Turner v. Selina C. Gaviria
W2014-01087-COA-R3-CV

This is the second appeal of this case involving enforcement of an oral loan agreement. Appellant appeals the judgment entered against her. Because the appellate record contains no transcript or statement of the evidence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 24, we conclude that the findings made by the trial court in support of its conclusions of law were based upon sufficient evidence. Affirmed and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/17/14
In Re Chelsia J. et al.
E2014-00632-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on Chelsia J. and Jared J., the minor children (“Children”) of Fleesha J. (“Mother”) and Mark F. (“Father”). The Children were taken into protective custody by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) on April 28, 2011, upon investigation of the Children’s exposure to controlled substances in the parents’ home. On March 21, 2012, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents. Following a bench trial conducted over the course of four days spanning more than a year’s time, the trial court found that grounds existed to terminate the parental rights of both parents upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) the parents abandoned the Children by failing to provide a suitable home, (2) the parents abandoned the Children by engaging in conduct prior to incarceration that exhibited wanton disregard for the Children’s welfare, (3) the parents failed to substantially comply with the reasonable responsibilities and requirements of the permanency plans, and (4) the conditions leading to the Children’s removal from the home persisted. At that time, however, the court denied the petition based upon its finding that termination was not in the best interest of the Children. DCS subsequently filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment. Following a subsequent hearing, the trial court granted the motion to alter or amend the judgment and terminated the parental rights of both parents upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination was in the best interest of the Children. Mother has appealed. 2 We reverse the trial court’s finding that Mother abandoned the Children by engaging in conduct prior to
incarceration that exhibited wanton disregard for the Children’s welfare. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Campbell County Court of Appeals 12/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Gale
W2013-02772-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Antonio Gale, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for two counts of aggravated rape. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of the lesser-included offenses of rape in Count One and assault in Count Two. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced Defendant to eleven years at 100% for the rape conviction. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant seeks resolution of the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction of rape; and (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing Defendant. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for rape and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant to eleven years for the conviction. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/14
In Re Jocelyn L.
E2013-02650-COA-R3-JV

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Anderson County (“the Juvenile Court”) seeking to have the minor child Jocelyn L. (“the Child”) found dependent and neglected. The Child’s father, James L. (“Father”), was alleged to have sexually abused the Child. The Juvenile Court entered a restraining order against Father. While both Father and the Child’s mother, Amanda L. (“Mother”), were named respondents in DCS’s petition, Mother was named only so as to require her to uphold the restraining order against Father. After a hearing, the Juvenile Court found that the evidence on the allegations against Father did not rise to the level of clear and convincing. The Juvenile Court dismissed the petition. DCS did not appeal. Mother, however, appealed to the Circuit Court for Anderson County (“the Circuit Court”) for a trial de novo. The Circuit Court found that Mother lacked standing to appeal and dismissed her appeal. Mother now appeals to this Court. We hold that Mother was not an aggrieved party by the Juvenile Court’s order dismissing DCS’s petition and, therefore, lacked standing to
appeal to the Circuit Court. We affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 12/16/14
Robert Greer Morris v. Patti Deakins Morris
E2013-02581-COA-R3-CV

This is a divorce case in which Appellant/Wife appeals the trial court’s denial of her request for alimony and reimbursement of her medical bills. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/16/14
In Re: Lyric J.
M2014-00806-COA-R3-PT

This appeal arises from the trial court’s decision to terminate Father’s parental rights to his daughter (“Child”). Father lives in California and was not present for Child’s birth. Mother died two days after giving birth, and Mother’s mother (“Grandmother”) received temporary custody of Child because Father had not been declared the legal father. The final custody hearing granted custody to Grandmother and Father filed an appeal of the custody order. Grandmotherfiled a petition to terminate Father’s parental rights and adopt Child,and Father filed a counter petition to establish paternity and request custody. The court terminated Father’s parental rights based on its findings that Father willfully abandoned Child and that terminating Father’s parental rights and permitting adoption by Grandmother were in Child’s best interest. We find that it has not been established by clear and convincing evidence that Father’s failure to visit and support was willful; therefore, the judgment of the Smith County Chancery Court is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Smith County Court of Appeals 12/16/14
In Re: Camryne B.
M2014-00801-COA-R3-JV

The trial court granted grandparent visitation based in large part on the asserted need to maintain a relationship between the grandchild and her half-sister (who had been adopted by grandmother). Parents opposed the grandchild’s visitation with her grandparents. The trial court made no finding that cessation of the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchild presented a danger of substantial harm to the child. In accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-306, we reverse.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 12/16/14
Channin S. Hughes v. Norman T. Hughes
M2013-01558-COA-R3-CV

This case involves a child custody dispute between two parents in the midst of a divorce proceeding with an unusual procedural history. After considering all the evidence presented during the divorce trial, the trial judge orally ruled that the mother would be designated the primary residential parent. About two weeks later, prior to the entry of any written order, the father filed a motion to reopen the proof or, in the alternative, to reconsider the ruling, seeking to present additional evidence about facts that occurred after the final hearing. The trial court denied the motion but instructed the father to present the additional facts via a petition to modify.  The father then filed a petition to modify the primary residential parent designation. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial judge dismissed the father’s petition to modify, finding that the facts presented did not “amount to a change of circumstance so great as to remove custody from the Mother.” Thereafter, the trial court entered the final decree of divorce and parenting plan from the divorce trial.  Father timely filed separate notices of appeal from these orders. We affirm.

Hickman County Court of Appeals 12/16/14
Farmers Mutual of Tennessee v. Jennifer Atkins
E2014-00554-COA-R3-CV

The trial court granted summary judgment to the insurance company on the issue of whether the insured’s failure to submit to an Examination Under Oath precluded her recovery. Because material factual disputes exist, we reverse.

Monroe County Court of Appeals 12/15/14
Christopher Jake Reynolds v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02658-CCA-R3-PC

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to dismiss or in the alternative to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Petitioner, Christopher Jake Reynolds, has appealed the Giles County Circuit Court order dismissing his third petition for post-conviction relief in which Petitioner alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that due process required the tolling of the statute of limitations.  Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the post-conviction court was correct in dismissing the petition and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgment of the post conviction court is affirmed.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/15/14
David W. Hamilton et. al. v. Abercrombie Radiological Consultants, Inc. et. al.
E2014-00433-COA-R3-CV

This is a health care liability action, arising from the death of Decedent, David Hamilton. Decedent’s surviving spouse, Donna Hamilton (Appellant), filed this action against Appellees, Abercrombie Radiological Consultants, Inc. and Dr. Donna K. Culhane. Appellees moved to dismiss the action for failure to comply with the notice requirement of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-121 et seq. Specifically, the Appellees challenged whether the medical release provided with the pre-suit notice letter was compliant with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). The trial court agreed with Appellees and dismissed the action with prejudice. Appellant timely appealed. We reverse and remand the matter to the trial court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/15/14
Gene Lovelace Enterprises, LLC et al. v. City of Knoxville
E2013-01584-COA-R3-CV

This case involves the enforceability of an ordinance enacted by the City of Knoxville to impose licensing requirements for owners and employees of sexually oriented businesses. Plaintiffs, Gene Lovelace Enterprises, LLC a/k/a Last Chance Theatre & Musical Club 2000 at Alcoa Highway and Eugene Lovelace d/b/a Bambi’s, filed this action 1 against the City, seeking a judgment declaring the ordinance unconstitutional and an injunction prohibiting enforcement. A similar action was subsequently filed by plaintiffs, Business Financial Services of Knoxville, Inc. d/b/a West Knoxville News and Katch One, Inc. d/b/a Katch One Lounge. The two cases were consolidated. The City filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the City Council had appropriately enacted the ordinance to combat negative secondary effects caused by sexually oriented businesses. The plaintiffs presented evidence that there were no negative secondary effects associated with such businesses in the Knoxville area, including expert opinions and a study based on empirical data from the relevant locality. The trial court granted summary judgment to the City, finding that “relevant authorities cited by the City establish that the ordinance in question is of a type which may be validly and constitutionally enacted by a municipality such as defendant.” Gene Lovelace Enterprises, LLC and Bambi’s LLC have appealed that ruling. We reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the City and remand the case for further proceedings

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Reginald Dewayne Tumlin
E2013-01452-CCA-R3-CD

A Hamilton County jury convicted the Defendant, Reginald Dewayne Tumlin, of two counts of child abuse, one count of criminally negligent homicide, and one count of aggravated child neglect. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of sixty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to compel the State to make an election of offenses; (2) the trial court failed to instruct the jury that reckless endangerment and attempted aggravated child neglect are lesser-included offenses of aggravated child neglect; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (4) the trial court improperly admitted medical testimony about the victim’s injuries; (5) the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct; (6) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on flight; and (7) the cumulative effect of these errors deprived the Defendant of a fair trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/15/14