Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 03/21/2019
Format: 03/21/2019
State of Tennessee v. Jenelle Leigh Potter
E2015-02261-CCA-R3-CD

A Washington County jury convicted the Defendant, Jenelle Leigh Potter, of two counts of first degree premeditated murder and one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The trial court merged the conspiracy conviction and ordered concurrent life sentences for both murder convictions. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to grant her request for a change of venire; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions for premeditated first degree murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated first degree murder; (3) the criminal responsibility statute, Tennessee Code Annotated, section, 39-11-402, is unconstitutionally vague; and (4) the trial court erred when it failed to enjoin the prosecutor from publishing his book about this case until after the final adjudication of this case. Following our review, we affirm the convictions for first degree premeditated murder, but hold that merger of the conspiracy conviction was error. We reinstate the Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit first degree murder and remand to the trial court for sentencing on that count.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Wayne Woodard
E2017-02307-CCA-R10-CD

In 2016, the Defendant, Timothy Wayne Woodard, was indicted for nine counts of removal of government records and nine counts of theft of property. The Hamblen County District Attorney’s Office denied the Defendant’s application for pre-trial diversion. The Defendant filed a motion to disqualify the district attorney’s office from the case, alleging that its response to his application revealed a conflict of interest. After a hearing, the trial court found that the District Attorney’s Office was not disqualified from considering the Defendant’s application for pre-trial diversion. The Defendant filed application for extraordinary appeal, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 10. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State Ex Rel. Candice McQueen v. Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education Et Al.
M2018-00506-COA-R3-CV

A metropolitan board of education adopted a policy preventing the provision of student information to the State of Tennessee in its role as the administrator of an achievement school district pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-13-132. The State filed a petition for writ of mandamus and declaratory judgment, and the chancery court granted the writ of mandamus. The board of education appeals. We affirm the decision of the chancery court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Charles Garland
E2017-02438-CCA-R3-CD

A Washington County jury convicted the Defendant, Aaron Charles Garland, of first degree felony murder and robbery. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress his statements to police and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for first degree felony murder. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Barbara Mae Potter
E2015-02262-CCA-R3-CD

Following a trial, a Washington County jury found Defendant, Barbara Mae Potter, guilty of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and one count of tampering with evidence. At sentencing, the trial court merged Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit first degree murder into the two convictions for first degree premeditated murder and imposed concurrent life sentences for those offenses. The trial court imposed a three-year sentence for tampering with evidence and ordered the sentence to run concurrently with Defendant’s life sentences. On appeal, Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred in changing the venue of the trial to Washington County; (2) the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion for the lead prosecutor to withdraw from the case; (3) the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s “motion to
 pre-emptively strike witness”; (4) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions; (5) the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to sever; and (6) issues raised in Defendant’s petition for writ of error coram nobis entitle her to a new trial. Following a thorough review, we reinstate Defendant’s conspiracy to commit first degree murder conviction, affirm the convictions, and remand for sentencing on conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Katherine Mae Pruitt v. Travis Pruitt
W2018-00453-COA-R3-CV

Appellant appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to set aside a final judgment obligating him to pay child support. The record shows that Appellant voluntarily executed a document placing his name on the child’s birth certificate and thereafter entered into a marital dissolution agreement and parenting plan obligating him to pay child support with full knowledge that he was not the biological parent of the child. Because Appellant has failed to present sufficient evidence of a ground for relief under Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, we affirm the decision of the trial court to deny Appellant’s request to set aside the judgment. We reverse, however, the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees based on the parties’ marital dissolution agreement.

Henry County Court of Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Lonny Lavar Bardin
W2017-02506-CCA-R3-CD

Lonny Lavar Bardin, Defendant, was convicted following a jury trial of Class B felony rape and Class E felony sexual battery and sentenced to eight years’ incarceration. Defendant claims that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Jerimyah Sherrell Shutt v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00378-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Jerimyah Sherrell Shutt, pleaded guilty to especially aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner subsequently filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his counsel had rendered ineffective assistance. The post-conviction court appointed counsel and, after a hearing, denied relief. After review, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Richard Shane Frazier
W2018-00225-CCA-R3-CD

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Richard Shane Frazier, of aggravated assault and violating an Order of Protection. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of fifteen years to be served consecutively to previous sentences for other convictions. On appeal, the Defendant claims that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/19
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. William S. Lockett, Jr., ET Al.
E2018-00129-COA-R3-CV

The mortgagors sought to rescind the foreclosure sale of their property, claiming that the sale was invalid because it had been conducted improperly. A jury found the sale process was properly followed and the verdict was approved by the trial court. The mortgagors appeal. We affirm

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/04/19
In Re: Estate Of Mary Ruth Davis Hudson
E2018-00583-COA-R3-CV

In this estate proceeding, the appellants, three of the five adult children of the decedent, appeal the probate court’s interpretation of the decedent’s last will and testament as demonstrating the decedent’s intent to have her real property administered as part of her estate by her personal representative. Having determined that the probate court’s order was premature due to ongoing proceedings in the decedent’s conservatorship case, we vacate the probate court’s order interpreting the last will and testament. We remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/04/19
Jonathan George Carter v. Elizabeth Jo Browne
W2018-00429-COA-R3-CV

Following a bench trial, the trial court entered a final decree of divorce in which it determined that Appellant/Wife was not entitled to an award of alimony in futuro, but awarded Wife alimony in solido and transitional alimony. The trial court further determined that the parties’ marital residence was Wife’s separate property. On appeal, Wife argues that the trial court erred in denying her alimony in futuro, while Appellee/Husband appeals the classification of the parties’ home as Wife’s separate property. With respect to the trial court’s decision that alimony in futuro is inappropriate in this case, we affirm. However, because we conclude that the trial court erred in classifying the parties’ home as Wife’s separate property, we reverse in part and remand for further proceedings

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/04/19
Victor Eugene McConnell v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00883-CCA-R3-HC

The pro se petitioner, Victor Eugene McConnell, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Davidson County Criminal Court, arguing the trial court erred in summarily dismissing the petition. The petitioner asserts the State breached the plea agreement in this case, entitling the petitioner to habeas corpus relief. After our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Elvis Louis Marsh
M2017-02360-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Elvis Louis Marsh, was convicted of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, delivery of less than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, conspiracy to sell or deliver less than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received an effective sentence of thirty years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to support his convictions. Upon reviewing the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Eric Henry
E2018-00537-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Eric Henry, appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his two-year sentence for reckless endangerment in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Whelchel Randall Hogan
M2017-02254-CCA-R3-CD

Following the denial of a suppression motion, the defendant, Whelchel Randall Hogan, entered a guilty plea in Dickson County Circuit Court to possession with intent to sell or deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine and reserved the right to appeal a certified question of law relating to the initial seizure of the defendant and the validity of the search warrant issued in this case. The defendant asserts the police did not have reasonable suspicion for the initial seizure of the defendant and the search warrant issued in this case lacked probable cause. Upon our review of the record, arguments of the parties, and pertinent authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Hugh A. Niceley
M2017-02535-CCA-R3-CD

In 1994, the petitioner, Hugh A. Niceley, was convicted of eight counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery, occurring over the course of several years from 1988 until 1992. For his crimes, the petitioner received an effective sentence of fifty-three years, to be served at 30 percent. In 1999, the trial court entered a new judgment as to Count 9, requiring the sentence be served at 100 percent, as required by the applicable statute. As a result, the petitioner asserts the 1999 judgment created an illegal sentence, arguing his sentence in Count 9 should be served at 30 percent, as originally ordered. The trial court disagreed, as do we. Accordingly, the order of the trial court requiring service of Count 9 at 100 percent is affirmed.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Antoine Dewayne Clark
M2017-02525-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the Defendant, Antoine Dewayne Clark, of aggravated arson, and he was sentenced to serve thirty years in prison. On appeal, he alleges that the trial court erred in limiting defense counsel’s questions during voir dire; in allowing testimony regarding the injuries suffered by the victims; in denying a mistrial based on the introduction of evidence that the Defendant was wearing an ankle monitor; and in permitting hearsay testimony. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/19
McKayla Taylor v. Miriam's Promise Et Al.
M2017-01908-COA-R3-CV

This action arises from an agreed-upon adoption that the birth mother revoked within 30 days of the child’s birth. The defendants include three adoption agencies, three social workers, two attorneys, a hospital, and the prospective adoptive parents. Generally stated, the complaint alleges that the defendants acted in concert to abduct the mother’s child by inducing the mother to surrender her parental rights, consent to the adoption, and waive her right of revocation. The articulated claims include conspiracy to commit fraud and tortious civil kidnapping, negligence, professional negligence, healthcare liability, and conversion of her child. All defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02 for some or all of the following reasons: (1) the adoption documents were valid under Tennessee law and not fraudulent; (2) Tennessee does not recognize the torts of civil kidnapping and conversion of a child; (3) the claims are time-barred; (4) the mother’s first certificate of good faith was non-compliant because it did not disclose a prior violation of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-122; (5) the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act barred the mother’s intentional tort claims against the hospital; and (6) the mother released some of the defendants from liability by signing a release agreement. Additionally, the healthcare providers contended the complaint should be dismissed because the mother failed to comply with the pre-suit notice requirement of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act. The trial court granted the motions on various grounds and dismissed the complaint with prejudice for all defendants. Having determined that Tennessee does not recognize a tort of conversion of a child or tortious civil kidnapping and that conspiracy to commit fraud is not a standalone claim, we affirm the dismissal of these claims. We also affirm the dismissal of all remaining claims as time-barred. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Putnam County Court of Appeals 01/31/19
State of Tennessee v. Nathan Todd Cooke
M2017-01947-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Nathan Todd Cooke, was convicted by a Van Buren County Circuit Court jury of two counts of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 55-10-401 (2017). The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days, with ten days to be served in jail and the balance on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress and that the admission of the blood alcohol test result was plain error. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Van Buren County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/19
State of Tennessee v. Nathan Todd Cooke - concurring
M2017-01947-CCA-R3-CD

While I agree with the majority’s conclusion that the officer’s actions were a proper exercise of the community caretaking function, I disagree with the majority’s holding that the Defendant was not seized when the officer approached the Defendant with activated blue lights. Without a seizure, there would be no need for the officer’s actions to be deemed the exercise of the community caretaking function.

Van Buren County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/19
Mary Beth Harcrow v. Clyde Harcrow
M2019-00141-COA-T10B-CV

This is an accelerated interlocutory appeal pursued pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B. Because Appellant admits that no order has been entered by the trial court with respect to her motion to recuse, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.   

Sumner County Court of Appeals 01/31/19
Christopher L. Shaw v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00686-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner, Christopher L. Shaw, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which petition challenged his 2012 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of possession of 26 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free zone, possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony evading arrest. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of relief.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/19
Kimberly J. Smith v. Gregory A. Smith Et Al.
E2017-01295-COA-R3-CV

Judgment creditor appeals the trial court’s decision to set aside a conditional judgment, to dismiss her claims of bad faith, civil contempt, and conversion against the garnishee, and to deny certain requests for discovery and sanctions. We affirm the trial court’s decision to set aside the conditional judgment, as well as the dismissal of the judgment creditor’s conversion claim. We reverse, however, the trial court’s dismissal of the judgment creditor’s claims of bad faith and civil contempt. We also vacate the trial court’s decisions with regard to sanctions and discovery, except to the extent that the trial court allowed withdrawal of certain requests for admission, which is affirmed.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 01/31/19
Katherine D. Chaney v. Team Technologies, Inc.
E2018-00248-SC-R9-WC

The issue in this interlocutory appeal is whether an employer, who did not use an automated external defibrillator (AED) to assist an employee who suffered a non-work related medical emergency, can be liable for workers’ compensation benefits. An employee collapsed at work because of a medical condition unrelated to her employment. The employer knew of the employee’s need for immediate medical assistance. The employer had acquired an AED but did not use it to assist the employee while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical responders. Medical responders assisted the employee, but she suffered a brain injury because of oxygen deprivation. We hold that an injury that is caused by an employer’s failure to provide reasonable medical assistance arises out of and in the course of employment when an employee becomes helpless at work because of illness or other cause unrelated to her employment, the employee needs medical assistance to prevent further injury, the employer knows of the employee’s helplessness, and the employer can provide reasonable medical assistance but does not do so. Here, the employee’s claim did not arise out of her employment because her employer provided reasonable medical assistance and had no statutory or common law duty to use its AED to assist the employee. Therefore, the employer is not liable for workers’ compensation benefits. We reverse the trial court’s denial of the employer’s motion to dismiss and remand to the trial court for an order of dismissal.

Hamblen County Supreme Court 01/31/19