Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/01/2020
Format: 12/01/2020
Brandon Harris v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00996-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Brandon Harris, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief arguing that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to investigate and call witnesses, failing to present expert testimony of mental impairment, and failing to object to the State’s certification of a voice recognition expert. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/20
In Re Adoption of M.L.S.
E2019-01918-COA-R3-CV

This case involves a petition to set aside a final decree of adoption. The trial court granted the adoptive parents’ motion to dismiss the petition. We affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 10/16/20
In Re M.L.S.
E2019-01794-COA-R9-CV

This appeal involves a petition to enforce a visitation order after the entry of a final decree of adoption. The adoptive parents filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted in part and denied in part. The trial court ordered the parties to participate in depositions to address the issue of “acquiescence” and determine “if an enforceable right of visitation with the minor Child was acquired by the Petitioners being allowed to visit after the adoption of the minor Child was finalized.” The adoptive parents sought and were granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal, challenging the denial in part of their motion to dismiss. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 10/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Gil Jackson Groseclose
E2019-01721-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, Gil Jackson Groseclose, pled guilty in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to driving under the influence (DUI) and DUI, per se, and the trial court convicted him after a bench trial of DUI, second offense. The trial court merged the convictions, Class A misdemeanors, and sentenced the Appellant to eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served as one hundred twenty days in jail followed by supervised probation. On appeal, the Appellant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction of DUI, second offense, because the judgment of conviction for his prior DUI was void and that the trial court erred by ordering confinement of more than the mandatory minimum sentence in jail. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/20
In Re John B.
M2019-02022-COA-R3-JV

Father appeals the trial court’s decision to reduce his parenting time significantly. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Macon County Court of Appeals 10/15/20
Jeremy Archer, Et Al. v. The Home Team, Inc. Et Al.
M2019-01898-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from an alleged misrepresentation of real estate acreage. The plaintiffs commenced an action against both the real estate agent and the seller claiming they misrepresented that the property was 1.9 acres when it was only 1.16 acres. They asserted claims against the real estate agent for misrepresentation and concealment and claims against the seller for, inter alia, misrepresentation, concealment, and breach of contract. Following discovery, the seller and real estate agent each filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court summarily dismissed all claims against the real estate agent. The court granted the seller partial summary judgment dismissing the claims based on misrepresentation, concealment, and breach of contract. We affirm the dismissal of the misrepresentation claims against both defendants because the undisputed facts establish that the plaintiffs did not rely on the alleged misrepresentations in deciding to purchase the property. We also affirm the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ concealment claims based on the plaintiffs’ constructive notice of the correct acreage by way of a publicly recorded plat. Additionally, we affirm the summary dismissal of the breach of contract claim given that the warranty deed identifies the property by reference to the recorded plat, which shows the correct acreage. 

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 10/15/20
James Justice v. Paul Gaiter, Et Al.
M2019-01299-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a motor vehicle accident in a shopping center complex during the Christmas season. Plaintiff appeals the jury’s finding that he was sixty percent at fault for the accident and the trial court’s denial of his motion for a new trial. Finding that the jury’s apportionment of fault is supported by material evidence and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial, we affirm the trial court in all respects.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 10/15/20
Rodney Stafford, et al. v. Christy M. Lucas, A.P.N., et al.
W2019-01438-COA-R3-CV

The trial court dismissed this lawsuit for failure to timely serve the defendants after finding that it was “unaware of an exception to this rule or authority to expand the time for service.” Prior to the hearing, however, the plaintiffs filed a motion for enlargement of time under Rule 6.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. The trial court did not specifically address this motion. As such, the trial court’s dismissal of the complaint is vacated, and this matter is remanded with instructions for the trial court to rule on plaintiffs’ motion for an enlargement of time.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Adonis Donnell Holbrooks
M2019-02099-CCA-R3-CD

Adonis Donnell Holbrooks, Defendant, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in a superseding indictment for one count of attempted rape of a child, one count of solicitation of a minor, one count of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor via electronic means. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged. As a result of the convictions, Defendant received an effective sentence of twelve years in incarceration with 100% release eligibility. The trial court denied a motion for new trial and motion to reconsider the denial of the motion for new trial. Defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions for attempted rape of a child and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/20
Demetree Harris v. State of Tennessee
E2019-01827-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Demetree Harris, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his two guilty-pleaded convictions for aggravated robbery. See Tenn. Code Ann § 39-14-402. The Petitioner contends that he entered an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea as a result of the ineffective assistance of defense counsel because the Petitioner had not reviewed all of the discovery materials. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/20
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RICHARD JOSEPH DURICK
M2019-01155-CCA-R3-CD

Pursuant to a plea agreement, Richard Joseph Durick (“Defendant”) pled guilty to one count each of attempted aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor in exchange for an effective sentence of three years, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing a sentence of confinement, arguing that: (1) the trial court committed plain error in considering polygraph results and reports based on polygraph results when sentencing Defendant; (2) the trial court failed to consider Defendant’s presumption of eligibility for probation; (3) the trial court failed to consider all of the factors under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-103(1)(A)-(C); and (4) the trial court inappropriately considered factors used to determine length of sentence when determining the manner of service of his sentence. Defendant further contends that the trial court erred by denying his subsequently filed motion for a reduction of sentence pursuant to Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/20
Billy F. Johnson, III v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00910-CCA-R3-ECN

The pro se Petitioner, Billy F. Johnson, III, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that he is entitled to relief based on newly discovered evidence of insanity. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court denying the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/20
Kyle Richard Freemon v. State of Tennessee
M2019-02220-CCA-R3-PC

In 2018, the Petitioner, Kyle Richard Freemon, pleaded guilty to sexual battery by an authority figure, a Class C felony, and the trial court sentenced him to six years of incarceration, suspended after the service of six months. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered because he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Jacob Brown, II
E2019-01462-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Jacob Brown, II, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s order setting aside an expunction order. As conceded by the State, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to set aside the order, and we vacate the trial court’s judgment

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/20
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. PATRICK DEAN ARMSTRONG
M2019-01487-CCA-R3-CD

The Marshall County Grand Jury indicted Patrick Dean Armstrong, Defendant, for one count of first degree premeditated murder in the death of the victim, James Dockery. Following a trial, the jury convicted Defendant of the lesser-included offense of aggravated assault resulting in death. The trial court denied alternative sentencing, citing the seriousness of the offense and the need for deterrence, and sentenced Defendant as a Range I standard offender to five years and six months’ incarceration at seventy-five percent release eligibility. Following a review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the conviction and the length of the sentence. However, we hold that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. Following de novo review, Defendant’s sentence is modified to one year in confinement to be followed by four years and six months’ supervised probation, and the case is remanded to the trial court for the entry of an amended judgment consistent with this opinion.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/20
In Re: Rosylyn W.
E2019-01838-COA-R3-PT

Sarah E. (“Mother”) and Scott W. (“Father”) appeal the termination of their parental rights to their minor child, Roslyn W. (“the Child”). In September 2018, Michael D. (“Uncle”) and Megan D. (“Aunt”) (collectively, “Petitioners”) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the parents to the Child in the Hawkins County Chancery Court (“Trial Court”). The Trial Court conducted a trial in August 2019. Following the close of Petitioners’ proof, the Trial Court involuntarily dismissed the statutory ground of abandonment for failure to visit against both parents upon oral motion by the parents, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02. At the conclusion of the trial, the Trial Court terminated Mother’s parental rights based on the statutory grounds of abandonment by failure to support the Child and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody or financial responsibility of the Child. The Trial Court terminated Father’s parental rights on the ground of abandonment by failure to support the Child. The Trial Court further found that termination of Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to the Child was in the Child’s best interest. Upon its termination of the parents’ rights to the Child, the Trial Court ordered that Petitioners and the parents must enter into an agreed order or a “preadoption contract” that will survive the adoption to allow for reasonable visitation between the Child and the parents to continue their relationship. Both Mother and Father timely appealed the Trial Court’s judgment. The Petitioners raise two additional issues. We reverse the Trial Court’s involuntary dismissal of the statutory ground of abandonment by failure to visit pertaining to Father at the conclusion of Petitioner’s proof, as well as the requirement that the parties enter into an agreed order or “preadoption contract” allowing reasonable visitation between the parents and the Child after the adoption. We affirm the Trial Court’s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Mother’s and Father’s parental rights.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 10/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Jason Keith Woods
M2019-01504-CCA-R3-CD

Jason Keith Woods, Defendant, was charged in a twelve-count indictment by the Bedford County Grand Jury in May of 2017 for multiple felony drug offenses involving the sell and delivery of the controlled substances oxycodone, heroin and morphine. The offenses occurred during three separate controlled transactions with a confidential informant. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of four Class B felony drug offenses, two Class C felony drug offenses and two counts of conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin, also a Class C felony offense. He was also convicted of 4 counts of the lesser included offense of simple possession, a Class A misdemeanor offense. The trial court merged five of the convictions and sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of twenty years as a Range II, multiple offender. After the denial of a timely motion for new trial, Defendant appealed arguing that the evidence was insufficient, the trial court gave an improper jury instruction, and the trial court sentenced him improperly. After a complete review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/20
Joseph Rivera v. State Of Tennessee
E2019-00798-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Joseph Rivera, appeals the partial denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues the he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel’s advice to testify at trial was deficient and harmful to his trial strategy. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/20
Knoxville Community Development Corporation v. Orchard Entertainment Group, LLC, Et Al.
E2019-01831-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves the condemnation of a property within a redevelopment area in Knoxville, Tennessee, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 13-20-202. The plaintiff obtained entry of an order granting it title to the property based upon assertion of eminent domain. The defendant claims that it did not receive due notice of hearings and that the plaintiff failed to follow the procedures set forth in the relevant redevelopment plan prior to initiating the taking. Upon the trial court finding that the plaintiff acted properly, the defendant timely filed a notice of appeal. We reverse.

Knox County Court of Appeals 10/09/20
Knoxville Community Development Corporation v. Orchard Entertainment Group, LLC, Et Al. - Concurring
E2019-01831-COA-R3-CV

I concur with the majority opinion but write separately to more fully address KCDC’s argument that it was not required to provide notice to OEG of the Board of Commissioners’ decision to acquire the Property by eminent domain because the Redevelopment Plan does not contain a notice requirement.

Knox County Court of Appeals 10/09/20
Debra Smith, et al. v. Ronnie Outen, M.D., et al.
W2019-01226-COA-R3-CV

In this health care liability action, the defendant pharmacists were sued for dispensing the wrong medication to the plaintiff. The defendants then alleged comparative fault against Appellant doctor, who was treating the patient. The plaintiff amended her complaint to allege fault against the doctor. However, the doctor was eventually granted summary judgment when no expert was produced to support the claim. Appellant doctor then sought sanctions pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-122(d)(3) on the basis that, inter alia, the defendants’ certificate of good faith was supported by the written statement of an incompetent expert witness. The trial court denied the motion for sanctions. We affirm.

Benton County Court of Appeals 10/09/20
In Re Conservatorship of Annette H. Cross
W2018-01179-COA-R3-CV

The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Appellees in this long and storied family dispute over the conveyance of real property held in a testamentary trust. The trial court also awarded Appellees’ attorneys’ fees. We affirm both the award of summary judgment and the award of attorneys’ fees.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/09/20
State of Tennessee v. Kwasi Corbin
W2019-01229-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Kwasi Corbin, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, a Class A felony, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202 (2014) (subsequently amended) (first degree murder), 39-12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt), 39-17-1324 (2018) (subsequently amended) (firearm violation). The trial court imposed a life sentence for the first degree murder conviction and sentenced the Defendant to twenty-five years for the attempted first degree murder conviction and to six years for the firearm violation. The court ordered consecutive service, for an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus thirty-one years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred by limiting witness testimony at the trial. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/20
State of Tennessee v. Albert O. Dewalt
W2020-00309-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Albert O. Dewalt, pleaded guilty over the course of five years to multiple charges: two counts of sale of cocaine weighing more than .5 grams (C07-216); two counts of sale of cocaine weighing more than .5 grams (09-CR-107); one count of felony possession with intent to deliver or sell cocaine weighing more than .5 grams (09-CR-108); and one count of attempted second degree murder (09-CR-274). The trial court imposed an effective sentence of twenty-two years. After multiple unrelated filings, in 2020, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, seeking to amend his sentence for attempted second degree murder. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion on the grounds that he had agreed to his sentence and that the Defendant had not stated a basis for relief. On review, having determined that the Petitioner has failed to state a colorable claim for Rule 36.1 relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/20
Rex Allen Moore v. Silvia Hill
E2019-01692-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a dispute between a landlord and her former tenant. Rex Allen Moore (“Plaintiff”), the former tenant, filed suit against Sylvia Hill (“Defendant”) in the General Sessions Court for Knox County (“the General Sessions Court”) for violation of the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (“the URLTA”). Plaintiff obtained a judgment in his favor, which Defendant appealed to the Circuit Court for Knox County (“the Circuit Court”). There, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant, and Defendant filed a counterclaim against Plaintiff. At trial, Plaintiff asked for a continuance, which was denied. The Circuit Court ruled against Plaintiff and in favor of Defendant on her counterclaim. Plaintiff appeals. Plaintiff’s brief severely fails to comply with Tenn. R. App. P. 27. We find, therefore, that Plaintiff has waived whatever issues he has attempted to raise on appeal. We affirm the Circuit Court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 10/08/20