State of Tennessee v. John Edward Graham
E2023-01066-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

A Knox County jury convicted Defendant of Class E felony theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less $2,500. Defendant claims that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction and that the trial court erred in denying Defendant the right to enter relevant evidence. Following our review, we determine that the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find Defendant guilty and that the trial court properly excluded the evidence because it was not properly authenticated. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Rodney Heatherly
M2023-00264-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Caleb Bayless

This is an appeal from the trial court’s order of restitution. The Appellant asserts error,
and the State concedes. After review, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the
case for a new restitution hearing.

Lawrence Court of Criminal Appeals

James V. Holleman v. Barbara J. Holleman
E2022-01396-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

After many years of contentious post-divorce litigation, the trial court ordered the court clerk’s office to distribute property-sale proceeds to the parties. The trial court also ordered that the wife’s portion of the sale proceeds be taxed in an amount sufficient to satisfy a previous sanctions award against the wife and an award of attorney’s fees to the husband. The wife appeals to this Court. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox Court of Appeals

Jason L. White v. State of Tennessee
W2023-01177-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Jones, Jr.

Petitioner, Jason L. White, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his “Petition for Writ of Error Coram Nobis.” Following our review of the entire record, the briefs and oral arguments of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Hollie Cherry v. Lori Christine Moss, et al.
W2023-00146-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge W. Ray Glasgow

Grandmother appeals the denial of her petition for grandparent visitation, arguing that the trial court failed to apply the presumption of irreparable harm contained in Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(a)(5). Because Grandmother never asked the trial court to apply a rebuttable presumption of harm, we affirm.

Shelby Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Michael David Mosley
M2023-00475-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Defendant, Michael David Mosley, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court convictions for two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and one count of assault, for which Defendant received a total effective sentence of two consecutive life terms plus 40 years. Defendant asserts on appeal that: (1) the indictment was invalid because it was signed by an Assistant District Attorney General; (2) the trial court erred by allowing evidence of other bad acts in contravention of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b); (3) the trial court’s instructions to the jury should have included a “no duty to retreat” instruction; (4) the State made improper comments during closing argument; (5) the evidence was insufficient to show premeditation; and (6) the trial court abused its discretion by imposing consecutive sentencing.1 Having reviewed the entire record on appeal, the parties’ briefs, and oral arguments, we affirm Defendant’s convictions and sentences.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

Robert Allen Doll, III v. Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee
M2022-01723-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

In this case, an attorney appeals the recommended sanction of disbarment after three criminal convictions. The attorney was convicted by a jury of two counts of subornation of aggravated perjury and one count of criminal simulation, all Class E felony offenses and serious crimes under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, section 22. All three criminal convictions arose out of the attorney’s conduct in representing a client. In the ensuing disciplinary proceedings, a Board of Professional Responsibility hearing panel recommended disbarment. The attorney appealed the hearing panel’s decision to the chancery court, which affirmed. The attorney appealed to this Court. On appeal, the attorney argues the hearing panel should have reviewed similar cases of attorney misconduct where a suspension was imposed, and that he should be suspended based on the sanction imposed in those cases. Under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Board of Professional Responsibility hearing panels and trial courts considering attorney discipline promote consistency in the imposition of sanctions by anchoring their decisions on punishment to the American Bar Association Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions. Rule 9 does not give either hearing panels or trial courts authority in attorney disciplinary cases to base recommended attorney disciplinary sanctions on a review of sanctions imposed in comparative cases. The Supreme Court’s more expansive perspective from seeing the broad swath of attorney disciplinary matters in the entirety of the State—whether appealed or not—puts it in the best position to consider comparative cases for the sake of uniformity of punishment throughout Tennessee. In this case, considering the nature of the attorney’s misconduct, no comparable case convinces us that suspension, rather than disbarment, is the appropriate sanction. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the chancery court and the decision of the hearing panel and impose the sanction of disbarment.

Davidson Supreme Court

In Re Destiney S. et al.
E2023-00895-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Pemberton

The Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate the mother’s parental rights to her five children on multiple grounds. The trial court found that grounds had been proven and that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. The mother of all five children appeals. For the reasons stated below, we vacate that part of the judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to Destiney S. and Serenity S. because they attained the age of majority prior to the entry of the final judgment. As for the three youngest children, Aurora R., Kanan R., and Kyaion R., we affirm the trial court’s determination that grounds for termination of Mother’s parental rights were proven and that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in their best interests. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of Mother’s parental rights to Aurora R., Kanan R., and Kyaion R.

Meigs Court of Appeals

Leslie Burke et al. v. Department of Children's Services
E2023-00904-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Douglas T. Jenkins

This is a child custody matter involving the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-201, et seq. (“the UCCJEA”). Leslie Burke and Melissa Burke (“the Burkes”) received temporary custody pending adoption of the minor child Jane Doe (“the Child”) from an Indiana court (“the Indiana Court”). The Burkes then brought the Child to Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) later filed a dependency and neglect action in the Juvenile Court for Greene County (“the Juvenile Court”). DCS alleged that the Child disclosed having been sexually abused in previous adoptive homes, and that the Burkes were not cooperating with individual therapy for the Child. The Juvenile Court ordered the Child’s removal into DCS custody. The Child’s legal parents in Indiana surrendered their parental rights. DCS moved for guardianship of the Child in the Circuit Court for Greene County (“the Circuit Court”), which the Circuit Court granted. The Burkes sued DCS2 in the Circuit Court challenging the legal parents’ surrender of their parental rights and the Circuit Court’s award of full guardianship to DCS. The Burkes and DCS filed motions for summary judgment. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of DCS, dismissing the Burkes’ complaint. The Burkes appeal, arguing that the Circuit Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction even though the Indiana Court expressly ceded jurisdiction to Tennessee. We hold, inter alia, that Indiana relinquished its exclusive, continuing jurisdiction. We affirm

Greene Court of Appeals

Tyler Keith Parrish v. State of Tennessee
M2023-01270-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

Petitioner, Tyler Keith Parrish, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Marshall Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Jeremie Scott Modine
M2022-01183-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

A Maury County jury convicted Defendant, Jeremie Scott Modine, of one count of rape,
one count of domestic assault, three counts of violating a no-contact order, and two counts
of violating a protective order. Defendant argues on appeal that (1) the trial court
committed plain error in constructively amending the indictment to charge rape by lack of
consent, and (2) that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. After careful
consideration, we hold that the trial court committed plain error in constructively amending
the indictment by instructing the jury on a mode of liability not charged in the indictment.
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying alternative sentencing. We therefore
vacate Defendant's rape conviction and remand this matter for a new trial on that count of
the indictment as well as correction of judgment forms as outlined in this opinion.

Maury Court of Criminal Appeals

John Stalnaker, Jr. v. Carole Cupp
M2023-00404-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Deanne B. Johnson

The beneficiary of a trust sued the trustee, who also served as the executor of the estate of the beneficiary’s stepmother, for various claims, including breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. The trustee moved to dismiss the petition pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6), and the trial court granted the motion after concluding that the breach of fiduciary duty claim was time-barred and that the petition failed to allege facts sufficient to establish a claim for conversion. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court’s decision.

Williamson Court of Appeals

Deirdra Ransom et al. v. Legends Bank
M2023-00132-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

This appeal arises from a dispute regarding a residential property mortgage and the subsequent default, foreclosure, and eviction. Because the notice of appeal was not timely filed, we find that this court does not have jurisdiction over the matter. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Gregory Tyrone Dotson
M2023-00430-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

This is an appeal from the order of the trial court revoking a community corrections sentence. On February 18, 2022, the Appellant, Gregory Tyrone Dotson, entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, and possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine, for which he received an effective sentence of ten years to be served on community corrections. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court revoked the Appellant’s community corrections sentence based on the preliminary hearing testimony of Able Aguilar, the victim of the aggravated robbery as alleged in the violation warrant, and imposed the original ten-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends the admission of Aguilar’s preliminary hearing testimony violated his confrontation rights because there was an insufficient showing of good cause or reliability. He additionally argues the trial court erred in considering an offense that was not included in the violation warrant to revoke the Appellant’s community corrections sentence and in ordering complete confinement. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

Braylen Bennett v. State of Tennessee
E2022-01746-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, Braylen Bennett, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief,
arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel, that his guilty pleas
were unknowing, unintelligent, and involuntary, and that the cumulative effect of trial
counsel’s deficiencies in performance warrants post-conviction relief. Based on our
review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

Janet Sura v. Jimmy's Last Laugh LLC
M2023-01174-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

Plaintiff sued the owner of a hotel after she fell in its lobby. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, concluding that the defendant did not owe a duty to the plaintiff. Because the trial court’s order does not adequately explain how an expert report proffered by the plaintiff was treated in adjudicating the motion for summary judgment, we vacate and remand to the trial court for the entry of an order that addresses this issue.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Cherokee Fiber & Associates , Inc. v. David Gerregano, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue
M2023-00748-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

The Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted an audit of a business and assessed unpaid taxes against the business. After an informal review by the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the business filed suit in the Chancery Court for Davidson County to challenge the assessment. The trial court concluded that the complaint was not timely filed, thus preventing the court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint. Finding no error, we affirm the chancellor’s decision.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Stargate Auto Sales, LLC v. David Gerregano, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue
M2023-00496-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

The Tennessee Department of Revenue audited a car dealership and assessed unpaid taxes against the business. After an informal review by the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the auto dealership filed suit in the Chancery Court for Davidson County to challenge the assessment. The trial court found that the auto dealership’s complaint had been filed one day past the applicable filing period and dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Finding no error, we affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Loring E. Justice v. Board of Professional Responsibility
E2022-01105-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Thomas J. Wright

This is a direct appeal of a disciplinary proceeding involving a Knoxville attorney who filed four motions containing pejorative statements about the trial judge in a child custody case involving the attorney’s minor child. A hearing panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that the attorney violated multiple Rules of Professional Conduct and imposed a three-year suspension as punishment. The attorney appealed to the trial court. The trial court affirmed the hearing panel’s judgment in all respects with the exception of the attorney’s punishment. The trial court held that the hearing panel erred in imposing a suspension, and it increased the punishment to disbarment. The attorney appealed to this Court. We affirm the judgment of the trial court on all issues with the exception of the issue regarding the attorney’s punishment. We hold that the trial court erred in increasing the punishment to disbarment, and we reinstate the three-year suspension imposed by the hearing panel but modify it to take effect upon the filing of this Opinion.

Knox Supreme Court

Michael Beinke, et al. v. Adam Roberson d/b/a 38 Construction, et al.
M2023-00637-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

This appeal involves the right to a nonsuit pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.01. Two plaintiffs (an individual and a limited liability company) filed this lawsuit against several defendants, asserting eight causes of action arising out of a construction contract. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss. At a hearing, the trial judge orally ruled that the motion to dismiss was denied as to all claims, with one exception. The trial judge took under advisement whether Count 2, asserting a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, was barred by the statute of limitations. Four days after the hearing, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice along with a proposed order to that effect. In response, the defendants filed a “motion in opposition” to the proposed order of voluntary dismissal, asking the trial court to delay entry of the order of voluntary dismissal until the trial court entered an order addressing the TCPA claim. The trial court ultimately ruled that the defendants had a “vested right” that prevented the plaintiffs from voluntarily dismissing the TCPA claim from the moment the trial court took the matter under advisement. The trial court then proceeded to analyze the TCPA claim. Although the issue taken under advisement related to the statute of limitations, the trial court sua sponte dismissed the TCPA claim asserted by the individual plaintiff because the court found that he did not meet the definition of a “consumer” pursuant to the TCPA. The trial court then considered the statute of limitations issue as it related to the TCPA claim asserted by the remaining plaintiff. The trial court found that the TCPA claim was not barred by the statute of limitations and denied the motion to dismiss on that basis. Having resolved the motion to dismiss as to the TCPA claim, the trial court ruled that the nonsuit then became “effective,” as of the date of the trial court’s order, resulting in voluntary dismissal of all claims except the individual plaintiff’s TCPA claim, which the trial court sua sponte dismissed with prejudice. The individual plaintiff appealed, asserting, among other things, that the trial court erred by concluding that the defendants had obtained a vested right and by delaying entry of the order of nonsuit so that the trial court could rule on the motion to dismiss. For the following reasons, we reverse the decision of the trial 06/12/2024 - 2 - court to the extent it dismissed the individual’s TCPA claim with prejudice and remand for entry of an order under Rule 41.01 dismissing all claims without prejudice.

Williamson Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Orlando Nichols
W2023-01183-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant, Orlando Nichols, was convicted in the Shelby County Criminal Court of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape, Class A felonies, and received consecutive twenty-five-year sentences to be served at one hundred percent.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the time delay between the commission of the offenses and the issuance of the indictment violated his right to due process; (2) his effective fifty-year sentence is excessive; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Loring E. Justice v. Board of Professional Responsibility (concurring)
E2022-01105-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Thomas J. Wright

I agree with virtually all of the majority’s thorough and well-reasoned opinion, with one exception: its determination that ABA Standards 6.21 and 7.1, which identify disbarment as the presumptive sanction, do not apply to this case. As explained below, I would hold that ABA Standards 6.21 and 7.1 apply, and consequently disbarment is the presumptive sanction, because Mr. Justice engaged in the misconduct with intent to obtain personal benefit. I nonetheless concur in the majority’s decision to impose a three-year suspension, based on the comparative cases cited in the majority opinion.

Knox Supreme Court

State of Tennessee v. Talvin D. Armstrong
M2022-01164-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

A Maury County jury found Defendant, Talvin D. Armstrong, guilty of one count of possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). On appeal, Defendant argues that: (1) he was coerced into waiving his confrontation rights as to two witnesses who contracted COVID-19 and were permitted to testify at trial remotely; (2) the trial court erred in introducing the affidavit of complaint supporting the search warrant for the house where the drugs and paraphernalia were found; and (3) he was entitled to a mistrial based on a witness’s reference to the Department of Probation and Parole. 1 After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Anthony Jared Ross
E2023-00381-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

The Defendant, Anthony Jared Ross, pled guilty to one count of carjacking, and after a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to serve a term of nine years and to pay restitution. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in imposing a sentence without having or considering the results of a validated risk and needs assessment as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-210(b). Our review reveals that the General Assembly has mandated that a sentence must be based, in part, upon the risk and needs assessment. Because this required sentencing information was never prepared, and consequently not considered by the court and the parties, we respectfully remand this case for resentencing. We also remand the case for entry of a judgment reflecting the appropriate disposition of other charges.

Sevier Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Anthony Jared Ross
E2023-00381-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

I dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the case must be remanded for
resentencing on the basis that the record fails to reflect that the trial court considered a
validated risk and needs assessment (“RNA”). The majority concludes from the parties’
arguments and from the absence of an RNA in the appellate record that no RNA was
prepared and, therefore, that the trial court did not consider one. See T.R.A.P. 13(c)
(limiting an appellate court to consideration of those facts which appear in the record or
are within the parameters of certain post-judgment facts of which the court may take
judicial notice pursuant to T.R.A.P. 14); Threadgill v. Board of Prof’l Resp., 299 S.W.3d
792, 812 (Tenn. 2009) (stating that allegations in pleadings or a party’s brief are not
evidence that is before an appellate court for review), overruled on other grounds by
Lockett v. Board of Prof’l Resp., 380 S.W.3d 19, 28 (Tenn. 2012); State v. Draper, 800
S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990); State v. Roberts, 755 S.W.2d 833, 836 (Tenn.
Crim. App. 1988). As the majority has observed, the Defendant did not object to the trial
court’s sentencing the Defendant in the purported absence of an RNA at sentencing.

Sevier Court of Criminal Appeals