Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 07/17/2019
Format: 07/17/2019
Bradley County School System, Et Al. v. The City of Cleveland, Tennessee
E2016-01030-SC-R11-CV

This is one of five cases on appeal to this Court regarding the proper distribution of liquor-by-the-drink tax proceeds between a county and a municipality within the county. In each case, the county had not approved the liquor-by-the-drink sales, but the city had approved such sales. The Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, who collects taxes on all liquor-by-the-drink sales, distributed tax proceeds to the defendant cities in accordance with the liquor-by-the-drink tax distribution statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 57-4-306. The statute required the recipient cities to then distribute half of their proceeds “in the same manner as the county property tax for schools is expended and distributed.” Tenn. Code. Ann. § 57-4-306(a)(2)(A) (2013). In each case, the recipient city distributed half of its tax proceeds to its own city school system and did not share the proceeds with the county. The counties sued the cities, claiming that the statute required the cities to distribute the tax proceeds as the counties distribute the county property tax for schools, which is pro rata among all schools in the county based on average daily attendance. In the instant case, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the city. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the distribution statute was ambiguous and that the statutory framework, legislative history, and other sources supported the trial court’s interpretation of the statute. We affirm.

Bradley County Supreme Court 05/08/19
Sullivan County, Tennessee, Et Al. v. The City of Bristol, Tennessee, Et Al.
E2016-02109-SC-R11-CV

This is one of five cases on appeal to this Court regarding the proper distribution of liquor-by-the-drink tax proceeds between a county and a municipality within the county. In each case, the county had not approved the liquor-by-the-drink sales, but the city had approved such sales. The Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, who collects taxes on all liquor-by-the-drink sales, distributed tax proceeds to the defendant cities in accordance with the liquor-by-the-drink tax distribution statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 57-4-306. The statute required the recipient cities to then distribute half of their proceeds “in the same manner as the county property tax for schools is expended and distributed.” Tenn. Code. Ann. § 57-4-306(a)(2)(A) (2013). In each case, the recipient city distributed half of its tax proceeds to its own city school system and did not share the proceeds with the county. The counties sued the cities, claiming that the statute required the cities to distribute the tax proceeds as the counties distribute the county property tax for schools, which is pro rata among all schools in the county based on average daily attendance. In the instant case, the trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant cities. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the distribution statute was ambiguous and that the statutory framework, legislative history, and other sources supported the trial court’s interpretation of the statute. Discerning no error, we affirm.  

Sullivan County Supreme Court 05/08/19
Washington County School System, Et Al. v. The City of Johnson City, Tennessee
E2016-02583-SC-R11-CV

This is one of five cases on appeal to this Court regarding the proper distribution of liquor-by-the-drink tax proceeds between a county and a municipality within the county. In each case, the county had not approved the liquor-by-the-drink sales, but the city had approved such sales. The Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, who collects taxes on all liquor-by-the-drink sales, distributed tax proceeds to the defendant cities in accordance with the liquor-by-the-drink tax distribution statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 57-4-306. The statute required the recipient cities to then distribute half of their proceeds “in the same manner as the county property tax for schools is expended and distributed.” Tenn. Code. Ann. § 57-4-306(a)(2)(A) (2013). In each case, the recipient city distributed half of its tax proceeds to its own city school system and did not share the proceeds with the county. The counties sued the cities, claiming that the statute required the cities to distribute the tax proceeds as the counties distribute the county property tax for schools, which is pro rata among all schools in the county based on average daily attendance. In the instant case, the trial court held in favor of the county, concluding that the distribution statute was ambiguous and that public policy considerations favored the county’s interpretation. Upon interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed. After considering the statutory language, the statutory framework, and the legislative history, it adopted the interpretation of the statute advocated by the city. We agree with the Court of Appeals and hold in favor of the city.     

Washington County Supreme Court 05/08/19
Jakeil Malik Waller v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01235-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Jakeil Malik Waller, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and reckless endangerment and received an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/19
Lashun Gray v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01262-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Lashun Gray, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted first degree murder and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he received an effective sentence of thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on: (1) trial counsel’s advice on whether Petitioner should testify at trial; (2) trial and appellate counsels’ failure to object to and appeal the jury instructions pertaining to criminal responsibility for the acts of another; and (3) trial counsel’s failure to properly advise Petitioner regarding the State’s plea offer of twenty-five years with a thirty-percent release eligibility. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/19
State of Tennessee v. Jared Worthington
W2018-01040-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jared Worthington, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of DUI per se, a Class A misdemeanor, and reckless driving, a Class B misdemeanor, after the State dismissed his DUI by impairment charge. He was sentenced by the trial court to concurrent terms of one day for the reckless driving conviction and 11 months, 29 days for the DUI conviction, suspended to probation after service of ten days in the county jail. On appeal, the Defendant raises the following issues: (1) Whether the trial court erred in its rulings regarding the admission and publication of the dashboard camera video of the Defendant’s arrest; (2) Whether the trial court violated the Tennessee constitution by disparaging the evidence, which took the form of instructing the jury that much of the video was irrelevant; (3) Whether the trial court erred by not allowing defense counsel to question officers about the potential bias created by the fact that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) blood alcohol or drug concentration test fee (“BADT”) was collected only in those cases in which a defendant is convicted; and (4) Whether the trial court “shifted the burden of proof,” thereby violating the Defendant’s constitutional due process rights, by asking defense counsel in the presence of the jury whether the Defendant intended to put on any proof. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/19
Marvin J. Butler v. First South Financial Credit Union
W2018-00917-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff appeals the summary judgment dismissal of his claims against the defendant bank for discrimination and breach of fiduciary duty. We affirm the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/07/19
Nathan E.Brooks v. Board of Professional Responsibility
E2018-00125-SC-R3-BP

In 1998, the appellant attorney agreed to entry of a consent order suspending his law license for two years. In 2017, the appellant filed this petition for reinstatement of his suspended law license. Instead of the advance cost deposit required by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, section 30.4(d)(9), he filed a pauper’s oath and affidavit of indigency. Upon motion of the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, the hearing panel dismissed the appellant’s petition without prejudice to his ability to file a new petition in compliance with Rule 9. On appeal, the chancery court affirmed. The appellant now appeals to this Court, arguing that a Tennessee statute entitles him to file his petition without paying the advance cost deposit, and also that mandating payment of the advance cost deposit deprives him of his constitutional right to due process. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Supreme Court 05/07/19
Nathan E.Brooks v. Board of Professional Responsibility - Concurring In Part and Not Joining In Part
E2018-00125-SC-R3-BP

Nathan E. Brooks petitioned to have his law license reinstated. Rather than pay an advance cost deposit under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, section 30.4(d)(9), Mr. Brooks filed a pauper’s oath and indigency affidavit. A Board of Professional Responsibility hearing panel dismissed the petition without prejudice, giving Mr. Brooks the opportunity to refile the petition with a cost deposit. The trial court agreed with the hearing panel and, now, so does the Tennessee Supreme Court. 

Hamilton County Supreme Court 05/07/19
State of Tennessee v. Jennifer Murray Jewell
M2017-01931-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, Jennifer Murray Jewell, entered a best interest guilty plea to theft of property valued over $60,000, a Class B felony. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Appellant received a sentence of ten years to be served on supervised probation. After a hearing, the trial court ordered the Appellant to pay $100,000 in restitution by monthly payments of $861.80 during her sentence. On direct appeal, this court held that the State failed to adduce sufficient proof of the victim’s loss; therefore, the case was remanded to the trial court to determine the amount of the victim’s loss and restitution. On remand, the Appellant represented herself at the second restitution hearing. The trial court determined that the victim suffered a total loss of $341,122.65 and ordered restitution of $47,000, to be paid in monthly installments of $500 for the remaining ninety-four months of her probationary sentence. On appeal, the Appellant contends that she was denied her right to counsel at the second restitution hearing and that the trial court failed to consider her ability to pay in determining the amount of restitution. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/07/19
Marcus Rhodes v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01220-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Marcus Rhodes, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged the validity of his guilty pleas to attempted second degree murder, reckless endangerment, three counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, for which he received an effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. Specifically, he contends that trial counsel and the trial court misinformed him regarding his potential sentencing exposure if convicted at trial. We conclude that the Petitioner has waived this issue, and we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/19
State of Tennessee v. Jacob Smith
W2018-01630-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jacob Smith, was convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”) and leaving the scene of an accident. He received an effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days suspended after five days of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his DUI conviction. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/19
Wayne Holloway, Et Al. v. Tanasi Shores Owners Association, Et Al.
M2018-00932-COA-R3-CV

Wayne Holloway and Jerry Brewington (“Plaintiffs”) appeal the April 20, 2018 order of the Chancery Court for Sumner County (“the Trial Court”) finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiffs, not Tanasi Shores Owners Association and Timmons Property, Inc. (“Defendants”), are responsible for maintenance and repair of decks connected to their respective condominium units. We find and hold that Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-27-303 applies and that, pursuant to the declaration, decks and porches are part of the condominium unit, not common areas, making Plaintiffs responsible for maintenance and repair of the decks connected to their respective condominium units. We affirm the Trial Court’s April 20, 2018 order.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 05/06/19
Chad James Powell v. Tennessee Department of Correction, Et Al.
M2018-01677-COA-R3-CV

An inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) filed this action in the Circuit Court for Davidson County seeking monetary damages from the State of Tennessee for injuries caused by “negligent acts or omissions” of TDOC employees acting “within the scope of their employment” in regard to a prison disciplinary hearing. The State filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because the Tennessee Claims Commission had exclusive jurisdiction over the inmate’s monetary claims. The inmate responded by filing a motion to transfer the case to the Claims Commission. The trial court denied the motion to transfer and dismissed the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/06/19
Dennis R. Bolze v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01231-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Dennis R. Bolze, appeals the dismissal of his motion to vacate his state convictions, which the trial court treated as a petition for post-conviction relief and determined to be time-barred. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/19
Allen K. Wallace v. City of Memphis
W2017-02237-COA-R3-CV

A City of Memphis firefighter was terminated based on alleged off-duty misconduct. The firefighter appealed his termination to the Civil Service Commission. After a hearing, the Civil Service Commission issued a decision recommending that the firefighter be restored to his previous position with full back pay and benefits. The City restored the firefighter to his previous rank and position but refused to pay the back pay and benefits owed. As a consequence, the firefighter filed a verified petition in chancery court to enforce the Civil Service Commission’s decision to which the City filed an answer without raising any affirmative defenses. Thereafter, the firefighter filed a properly-supported motion for summary judgment along with a statement of undisputed facts. Because the City did not file a response to the motion or the statement of undisputed facts as required by Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56, and the undisputed facts established that the firefighter was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the trial court granted the motion for summary judgment. The trial court also awarded post-judgment interest from the date of the trial court’s order granting summary judgment but not from the date of the Civil Service Commission’s decision as requested by the firefighter. Both parties appealed. We affirm the grant of summary judgment but reverse and remand for a calculation of post-judgment interest from the date of the Civil Service Commission’s decision.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/06/19
Mohammad Naser Chorazghiazad v. Mohammad Chorazghiazad
M2018-01579-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns whether a quitclaim deed was forged. Mohammad Naser Chorazghiazad (“Plaintiff”) sued Mohammad Chorazghiazad (“Defendant”) in the Chancery Court for Wilson County (“the Trial Court”) alleging that Defendant took certain of Plaintiff’s properties by means of a forged deed (“the Quitclaim Deed”). The Trial Court found by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant had indeed forged the Quitclaim Deed to give himself three additional properties that Plaintiff never agreed to transfer. Defendant appeals to this Court, arguing among other things that the evidence did not rise to the level of clear and convincing necessary to prove forgery. Given the testimony and evidence including the attendant circumstances surrounding the drafting and signing of the Quitclaim Deed, as well as the Trial Court’s credibility determinations, we find, as did the Trial Court, that Plaintiff met his burden of proving forgery by clear and convincing evidence. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 05/03/19
Karen H. Foster v. Douglas S. Foster
M2018-00595-COA-R3-CV

This is the second appeal in a post-divorce proceeding involving the computation of Wife’s portion of Husband’s military retirement pay. In the first appeal, we affirmed the trial court’s computation and remanded the case for further proceedings. On remand, the trial court assessed the arrearage of retirement pay that had accrued during the pendency of the appeal and awarded Wife her attorney’s fees. Husband appeals, contending that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and that Wife lacked standing to raise the issue of calculation of military retirement pay; Husband also raises numerous other issues related to the propriety of the judgment that was at issue in the first appeal, each party’s entitlement to attorney’s fees, and the trial court’s denial of two motions to recuse itself. We vacate the award of attorney’s fees for services rendered in another proceeding, and affirm the judgment in all other respects; we award Wife her attorney’s fees incurred in this appeal and remand the case for a determination of the amount to be awarded.   

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 05/02/19
State of Tennessee v. Geremy Paul Mathis
M2018-01139-CCA-R3-CD

A Coffee County jury convicted the Defendant, Geremy Paul Mathis, of felony failure to appear, and the trial court sentenced him to three and a half years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court improperly admitted his prior convictions; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion when sentencing him to serve three and a half years in confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Bronson, Jr.
M2018-01172-CCA-R3-CD

A Montgomery County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Gregory Bronson, Jr., for two counts of felonious possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. The Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence resulting from the search of his residence. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion, and, after his request for interlocutory appeal to this court was denied, the Defendant pleaded guilty to the indicted charges and reserved a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) as to whether the search of the Defendant’s residence by law enforcement was lawful. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
Adam Nicholas Wallace v. State of Tennessee
E2017-02481-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Adam Nicholas Wallace, appeals the Scott County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2016 conviction for aggravated sexual battery, for which Defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for ten years. The postconviction court dismissed Petitioner’s post-conviction petition as time-barred because it was filed outside the one-year limitations period. On appeal, Petitioner contends that due process requires tolling of the statute of limitations. We disagree. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of Petitioner’s petition.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
State of Tennessee v. Chad Edward Massengale
E2018-00387-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Chad Edward Massengale, appeals his Hamilton County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree murder, claiming that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress his statement to the police and by refusing to instruct the jury that a certain State’s witness was an accomplice as a matter of law and arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
Janella L. McCants v. Jacinta L. McGavock, Et Al.
E2017-01712-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a partition of jointly owned property. The trial court held that the plaintiff, the sole residing tenant, excluded the defendants, the three other cotenants, from the property owned by all four parties after relations deteriorated and a mutually agreed upon final disposition of the property could not be reached. The trial court further awarded $60,000, the amount of “repairs/improvements,” to plaintiff as reimbursement and compensation. Additionally, the trial court held that “ouster” was established and that the plaintiff excluded her cotenants and must pay rent to the cotenants for the use and occupation of the property. The trial court’s ruling included an order of partition of the property, that the defendants’ share of the amount expended by the plaintiff will be deducted from the sale proceeds to reimburse the plaintiff, and that those expenses are to be offset by the amount of rent owed to the defendants. The plaintiff appeals as to the finding of “ouster” and exclusion, whereas the defendants appeal as to the award of reimbursement in regard to the repairs and improvements made by the plaintiff. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 05/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Denerra Rose McTaggart
M2018-00747-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Denerra Rose McTaggart, pleaded guilty to initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and failure to appear. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve ten years of incarceration for the initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine conviction, followed by two years of probation for the failure to appear conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly denied alternative sentencing. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/19
In Re Anna G.
M2018-01456-COA-R3-PT

A mother’s parental rights were terminated based on the ground of abandonment by willful failure to support pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-1-113(g)(1) and 36-1-102(1)(A)(i). The mother appealed, and we reverse the trial court’s judgment. Although the mother did not provide cash to the child’s guardians, she spent a portion of her disposable income that was not insignificant on the child during the relevant four-month period, thereby precluding the petitioners from proving abandonment by clear and convincing evidence.

Overton County Court of Appeals 05/01/19