Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/13/2019
Format: 12/13/2019
SmartBank v. Sandra Stephens
E2018-01900-COA-R3-CV

Appellant appeals the trial court’s denial of her Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02(3) motion for relief from a default judgment. Appellant argues that she was not properly served, thus rendering the default judgment void ab initio. Appellant also appeals the trial court’s order allowing Appellee to execute its judgment on Appellant’s right of survivorship interest in real property held as a tenancy by the entirety. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/21/19
Mathews Construction, Inc. v. Kennedy Omanwa
E2019-00168-COA-R3-CV

A defendant filed a motion to recuse the trial judge one month prior to trial; the trial judge responded to the motion and entered an order denying it two weeks prior to trial. Defendant appeals, asserting that the court erred in denying the motion and in failing to notify him that the court would proceed with the trial as previously set. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/21/19
State of Tennessee v. Logan Chouinard
E2018-01660-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Logan Chouinard, appeals from the McMinn County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

McMinn County Municipal Courts 10/21/19
Juan Jose Reyes v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01075-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Juan Jose Reyes, was convicted by a jury for the offense of rape of a child and received a sentence of thirty-two years. He appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/19
State of Tennessee v. James William Ray A.K.A. James William Ray, JR
M2018-01765-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, James William Ray a.k.a. James William Ray, Jr., entered best interest guilty pleas to multiple counts of aggravated burglary, theft, and burglary of a motor vehicle. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a Range II, multiple offender to a total effective sentence of twenty years. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred in determining the length of the individual sentences and in imposing consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Norman Lee Follis
E2018-01667-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Norman Lee Follis, appeals his convictions of first degree murder and theft of property, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress his statement and the sufficiency of the evidence to support the first degree murder conviction. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to suppress and the evidence was sufficient to support the first degree murder conviction, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Khyree Thompson
E2018-01481-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Khyree Thompson, appeals his convictions of first-degree felony murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery, for which he received an effective sentence of life in prison. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its closing argument. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Martez Wheeler
W2018-02218-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se Defendant, Martez Wheeler, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Thomas R. Boykin
W2018-01207-CCA-R3-CD

A Gibson County jury convicted Thomas R. Boykin, Defendant, of two counts of aggravated child abuse of a child under eight years of age. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range II multiple offender to consecutive thirty-five-year sentences at 100%. In this delayed direct appeal, Defendant challenges his convictions, claiming the trial court improperly admitted evidence, cumulative error, and insufficiency of the evidence. Defendant also challenges his sentences, claiming improper use of sentencing enhancement factors and consecutive sentencing factors. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court and remand for entry of corrected judgments.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/19
State of Tennessee v. William Prichard
W2019-00270-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, William Prichard, was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault resulting in death. The trial court sentenced Defendant to a term of fifteen years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction of aggravated assault and that Defendant should be granted a new trial because the finding of the jury is against the weight of the evidence presented, and the trial judge failed to act as the thirteenth juror. After conducting a full review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Rachael Underwood
E2018-02009-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant-Appellant, Rachael Underwood, appeals from the Sevier County Circuit Court’s order revoking her probation. She originally pled guilty to attempted delivery of a Schedule I controlled substance and driving on a suspended license. She received a sixyear suspended sentence, after service of 180 days in jail. In this appeal, the Defendant claims that the trial court erred in revoking her probation. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/19
Yogonda Abdula Corley v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01568-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Yogonda Abdula Corley, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner contends that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to develop a record at trial that was adequate for appellate review. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Levi Parker
E2018-01306-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Christopher Levi Parker, was convicted by a Hamilton County jury of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison. In this appeal as of right, he raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction of first-degree premeditated murder; and (2) whether the trial court erred in allowing the State to admit proof that the Defendant stole a gun that was consistent with the murder weapon the night before he shot and killed the victim. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/19
Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company v. Brandon Debruce
E2017-02078-SC-R11-CV

We granted review to determine whether a trial court had authority in a declaratory judgment action to resolve coverage issues between an insurance company and its insured when a claimant, who had sued the insured but did not have a judgment against him, was not a party to the action. Here, the claimant sued the insured for damages arising from an automobile accident. The insured did not cooperate with his insurance company. The insurance company sued its insured, seeking a declaratory judgment that the company did not have to provide liability coverage based on the insured’s lack of cooperation. The trial court awarded the insurance company a default judgment, holding that the company did not have to provide coverage under the policy. Nearly two years later, the claimant moved the trial court to set aside the default judgment and allow her to intervene, asserting that she was a necessary party. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the declaratory judgment action because the claimant was a necessary party, and the insurance company had not joined the claimant in the action. We hold that the insurance company and its insured—not the claimant—were necessary parties to the declaratory judgment action. The trial court could decide the coverage dispute between the insurance company and its insured with finality and certainty without the claimant’s participation in the action. The claimant, who had no judgment against the insured and could not bring a direct action against the insurance company to collect any damages caused by the insured, had no interest affected by the dispute between the company and its insured. The trial court had authority to grant declaratory relief because all necessary parties were before the court. 

Bradley County Supreme Court 10/16/19
Deborah L. Bain v. UTI Integrated Logistics LLC, et al
W2018-00840-SC-WCM-WC

Deborah Bain (“Employee”) worked for UTI Integrated Logistics LLC (“Employer”) as a shuttle truck driver. She sustained a compensable injury to her right shoulder and right wrist in August 2010 and entered into a settlement agreement with Employer. After returning to work, she suffered an injury to her left shoulder in January 2013. The trial court found that Employee is not permanently and totally disabled, that the 1.5 times cap applies for purposes of both reconsideration of the August 2010 injury and assessment of the January 2013 injury, that she has a 6% medical impairment rating for the January 2013 injury, and that Employer is not responsible for expenses related to treatment she sought on her own. Employee has appealed these rulings. Employer has appealed the trial court’s award of further temporary total disability benefits. The appeal has been referred 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. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Benton County Workers Compensation Panel 10/16/19
State of Tennessee v. Dexter Dewayne Alcorn
M2018-01618-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Dexter Dewayne Alcorn, appeals from the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred in denying relief on the basis that his dual convictions for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery violate his right to due process and double jeopardy protection. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/19
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Morgan Dye
M2018-01191-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the Defendant, Johnny Morgan Dye, of vehicular homicide through intoxication and vehicular homicide through reckless conduct, and the Defendant received an effective sentence of twelve years in confinement after the offenses were merged. The Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the vehicular homicide through intoxication conviction, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing certain expert testimony, and asserting that the trial court committed reversible error in the admission of evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient and that the trial court did not err in its evidentiary decisions. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/19
State of Tennessee v. Julie Paul
E2019-00256-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Julie Paul, appeals the trial court’s order imposing confinement after finding a violation of her probation sentence. In July 2018, the Defendant pleaded guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine in exchange for an effective six-year sentence and a $2,000 fine. The Defendant received a partially suspended sentence with 180 days of split confinement to be followed by an alcohol and drug evaluation upon her release. A probation violation warrant was issued alleging multiple violations and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation sentence, ordering additional split confinement of one year. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion when it ordered service of one year of confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/19
Richard Wayne Peacock, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02220-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Richard Wayne Peacock, Jr., appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his conviction for initiating the process to manufacture methamphetamine. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to negotiate a more favorable plea. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/19
John Mark Porter v. Betsy Hillis Porter
M2018-01411-COA-R3-CV

This appeal is from a final decree of divorce. The wife challenges the trial court’s ruling regarding the ground for divorce and division of the marital estate. Because the trial court failed to make sufficient findings of fact and failed to comply with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 24, we are unable to conduct a meaningful appellate review. Accordingly, we vacate the decision of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Warren County Court of Appeals 10/15/19
Donna Jetter v. Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. Et Al.
M2019-00206-COA-R3-CV

This is a negligence action brought by an absentee homeowner against two public utilities to recover compensatory damages. The plaintiff’s unoccupied residence was damaged when frozen water pipes ruptured during the winter and after gas service to the property was terminated. The defendants, Piedmont Natural Gas, Inc. and Duke Energy One, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”), filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 12.02(1) and (3), arguing the court lacked original jurisdiction over the subject matter and that venue was improper because the Tennessee Public Utility Commission (“the Commission” or “the TPUC”) had exclusive and original jurisdiction over the claims at issue. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the action in its entirety. This appeal followed. We hold that the Commission did not have original or exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over the claims at issue and that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over the claims at issue, and it was the proper venue. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is vacated and this matter is remanded to the trial court with instructions to reinstate the amended complaint filed by the plaintiff, to afford Defendants thirty days to file a responsive pleading, and for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/14/19
Bradley Harlow v. Love's Travel Stops et al.
E2018-01905-SC-R3-WC

An employer appeals a trial court’s award of workers’ compensation benefits, arguing that the employee failed to rebut the presumption of correctness afforded to the authorized treating physician about causation and that the trial court should have capped any permanent partial disability benefits under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50 6 241(d)(1)(A). This appeal was referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. After careful review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Jefferson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/14/19
Quincy Howze v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02046-CCA-R3-PC

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Quincy Howze, of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range II offender to serve twenty years at 100%. The Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentence to this court, and we affirmed the judgments. State v. Quincy Howze, No. W2014-02449-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 9173701 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 15, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 6, 2016). The Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/19
State of Tennessee v. Teros Anderson Sweeney, Alias
E2018-00685-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Teros Anderson Sweeney, alias, was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of assault, two counts of resisting arrest, and one count of criminal impersonation. The trial court merged various convictions and imposed an effective sentence of ten years’ imprisonment to be served consecutively to the Defendant’s sentence stemming from a prior federal conviction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence related to his aggravated assault convictions, the length of his sentence, and the trial court’s imposition of partial consecutive sentences. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/19
State of Tennessee v. Leonard Singer
M2018-01936-CCA-R3-CD

A Rutherford County Circuit Court jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Leonard Singer, of tampering with evidence, simple possession of cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-503, 39-17-418, 39-17-425. On appeal, Singer argues: (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel from his preliminary hearing through trial; (2) his confession to ingesting a marijuana joint was coerced; (3) his arrest was not supported by probable cause and the police did not have authority to search his person or his truck; (4) the State withheld exculpatory evidence; (5) his indictment was defective; (6) the police, his attorneys, the prosecutors, and the trial judge conspired against him by making materially false statements and representations and by concealing and fabricating government documents; and (7) the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole violated Code section 40-35-207 and violated his due process rights. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/19