Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 06/18/2019
Format: 06/18/2019
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
Cheryl Merolla v. Wilson County, Tennessee
M2018-00919-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant county alleging mistreatment in the county jail resulting in physical and emotional injuries. Following a bench trial, the trial court dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims. We affirm the trial court’s decision in all respects. 

Wilson County Court of Appeals 05/01/19
Randall Holt, et al. v. Billy Kirk, et al.
W2017-00847-COA-R3-CV

Residential property owners sued their neighbors alleging multiple causes of action, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, and assault. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, which was approved by the trial court. On appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying pre-trial motions for summary judgment, excluding relevant evidence at trial, determining a potential witness was competent to testify, refusing to grant a directed verdict or a mistrial, failing to order a new trial when the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, and refusing to suggest a remittitur. After a careful review of the record, we find no reversible error. So we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/30/19
Evangeline Webb, et al. v. Milton E. Magee, Jr., et al.
W2018-01305-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a re-filed health care liability action in which the plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the health care liability act. The trial court upheld the constitutionality of the statutes and granted summary judgment in this action because the initial suit was not filed within the applicable statute of limitations. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Cecil Bernard Skyles, Jr.
E2018-01376-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Cecil Bernard Skyles, Jr., pled guilty in two separate cases and received a sentence to serve on supervised probation. After multiple probation violations, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered his sentence into effect. Defendant appealed. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Consequently, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
Steven Tyler Nabi v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01449-CCA-R3-PC

Following a reversal and remand of this case for the post-conviction court to make appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law, Steven Tyler Nabi v. State, M2017-00041-CCA-R3-PC, 2018 WL 1721869, at *5-6 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 9, 2018), the post-conviction court denied relief a second time. On appeal, the Petitioner, Steven Tyler Nabi, argues that his guilty pleas were not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
Duane Southerland, Et Al. v. Danny Howell
M2018-01427-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a boundary line dispute. Duane and Jean Southerland (“Plaintiffs”) sued Danny M. Howell (“Defendant”) in the Chancery Court for Van Buren County (“the Trial Court”) seeking declaratory judgment as to a boundary line and damages for the removal of a fence. The Trial Court found that Plaintiffs successfully established their claim of adverse possession over the disputed area. Defendant timely appealed to this Court. Defendant argues, among other things, that Plaintiffs cannot prevail because they did not own or adversely possess the property for a period of 20 years. We, as did the Trial Court, hold that, in keeping with Tennessee law, the requisite time period may be established by successive possessions. The unrefuted proof at trial was that Plaintiffs and their predecessors in title maintained actual, continuous, and exclusive possession of the disputed area for over 20 years. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Van Buren County Court of Appeals 04/30/19
Stacey Tyrone Green v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00765-CCA-R3-PC

A Marion County jury convicted the Petitioner, Stacey Tyrone Green, of one count of aggravated robbery, one count of burglary, one count of aggravated assault, and three counts of facilitation to commit aggravated robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of fourteen years and six months in the Tennessee Department of Correction, and this court affirmed the trial court’s judgment on appeal. State v. Stacey Tyrone Green, No. M2015-003230CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 381414, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 1, 2016), no perm. app. filed. The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, which was heard and denied by the post-conviction court. The Petitioner here appeals the ruling of the post-conviction court. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
Leslie K. Jones v. Andy L. Allman
M2018-00899-COA-R3-CV

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment with regard to the plaintiff’s claim of legal malpractice. Upon the plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend the judgment, the trial court denied the motion. The plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/30/19
Crouch Railway Consulting , LLC v. LS Energy Fabrication, LLC
M2017-02540-COA-R3-CV

The sole issue on appeal is whether a Tennessee court may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant. A Tennessee civil engineering company filed an action for breach of contract and unjust enrichment against a Texas energy company in Williamson County Chancery Court, alleging that the Texas company breached its contract with the Tennessee company by failing to pay for engineering and planning services. The defendant filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion, determining that the minimum contacts test had not been satisfied because the defendant did not target Tennessee. Additionally, the trial court determined that it would be unfair and unreasonable to require the defendant to litigate the dispute in Tennessee. This appeal followed. Relying primarily on the Tennessee Supreme Court’s reasoning in Nicholstone Book Bindery, Inc. v. Chelsea House Publishers, 621 S.W.2d 560 (Tenn. 1981), we have determined that the Texas company purposefully directed its activity toward Tennessee by engaging a Tennessee engineering company to provide customized services, which were performed primarily in Tennessee. We have also determined that it is fair and reasonable to require the Texas company to litigate the dispute in Tennessee. Therefore, we reverse the trial court’s decision to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and remand for further proceedings.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/30/19