Court Opinions

Format: 12/08/2022
Format: 12/08/2022
State of Tennessee v. Keithandre Trevon Murray
M2021-00688-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

The defendant, Keithandre Trevon Murray, appeals his Macon County Circuit Court jury convictions of first degree murder, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the admission of Facebook messages, the absence of African Americans in the jury pool, the admission of certain testimony, and the imposition of consecutive sentences. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Macon County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/22
Christopher Russell v. State of Tennessee
M2022-00096-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham
The Petitioner, Christopher Russell, appeals from the denial of his petition for postconviction
relief from his convictions for second degree murder and aggravated child
abuse, for which he is serving an effective twenty-five-year sentence. On appeal, he
contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief on his ineffective assistance
of counsel and cumulative error claims. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction
court.
Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/22
Olivia May Marcel v. Brad Joseph Marcel
M2021-00594-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa A. Jackson
This appeal arises from a divorce proceeding. The Coffee County Chancery Court (“Trial
Court”) ordered the husband to pay the wife alimony in futuro of $1,500 per month. The
Trial Court further ordered that the husband’s child support obligation would be calculated
by using his previous four pay stubs, each of which reflected a pay period of one week.
Upon our determination that a period of four weeks is not a reasonable period of time to
calculate child support when the parent has regularly received variable income, we vacate
the Trial Court’s award of child support and remand for recalculation based on the
husband’s income for a reasonable period of time. We affirm the Trial Court’s
determination that alimony in futuro was appropriate in this case but vacate the Trial
Court’s determination of the amount of alimony for reconsideration after its calculation of
the husband’s child support obligation.
Coffee County Court of Appeals 11/30/22
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Sean Robinson
M2022-00248-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Following two convictions for aggravated assault, the Defendant, Gregory Sean Robinson, was sentenced to an effective term of ten years and placed on probation. Thereafter, the Defendant absconded from supervision and committed new criminal offenses. As a consequence, the trial court revoked the suspended sentences and ordered that the Defendant serve the balance of the effective sentence in custody. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his suspended sentences in full instead of allowing him to participate in a substance-use treatment program through a furlough. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/22
State of Tennessee v. Adam O'Brian McDaniel
E2021-00565-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra N.C. Donaghy

The Defendant, Adam O’Brian McDaniel, was convicted by a Monroe County Criminal Court jury of three counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, for which he received concurrent twenty-eight-year sentences to be served at 100%. See T.C.A. § 39-13-522 (2018) (subsequently amended). On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred in determining that he was competent to stand trial, (2) the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress his pretrial statement, (3) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (4) the State made an improper election of offenses, (5) the trial court erred in admitting the victim’s great-grandmother’s testimony regarding her reaction to the victim’s revelation of sexual abuse, (6) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial, (7) the trial court erred in giving a jury instruction pursuant to State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999), rather than granting his motion to dismiss based upon the State’s loss or destruction of evidence, and (8) the State engaged in improper closing argument. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/22
Trevor Adamson v. Sarah E. Grove, et al.
M2020-01651-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson
In this case, the plaintiff filed a complaint alleging defamation and related causes of action.
Before the defendants filed an answer or any other pleading, the plaintiff filed a notice of
voluntary dismissal, and the trial court entered an order of voluntary dismissal without
prejudice. Within thirty days, the defendants filed a combined motion to alter or amend
and petition to dismiss the complaint with prejudice pursuant to the Tennessee Public
Participation Act (TPPA), Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-17-101, et seq., seeking an award of
attorney fees and sanctions. The trial court ultimately entered an order altering or
amending the order of voluntary dismissal without prejudice, granting the defendants’
petition to dismiss with prejudice under the TPPA, and ordering the plaintiff to pay $15,000
in attorney fees in addition to $24,000 in sanctions. The plaintiff has appealed and raised
numerous issues, including a challenge to the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction after
the nonsuit. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court’s order granting the
motion to alter or amend, vacate the trial court’s order granting the appellees’ petition to
dismiss with prejudice and awarding attorney fees and sanctions, and remand.
Sumner County Court of Appeals 11/30/22
State of Tennessee v. Malique Nicolas Gray
E2021-01134-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The State filed a petition seeking to transfer seventeen-year-old Defendant-Appellant, Malique Nicolas Gray, for prosecution as an adult in criminal court. Prior to the transfer hearing, the Bradley County Juvenile Court Judge signed an order appointing the juvenile magistrate judge to hear the matter. The juvenile magistrate judge presided over the Defendant’s transfer hearing and found probable cause to transfer the Defendant to the Bradley County Criminal Court to be tried as an adult. At the close of the transfer hearing, the juvenile magistrate judge advised defense counsel that she was sitting as a “substitute judge.” Following a trial, the Defendant was convicted by a Bradley County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, felony theft of property, misdemeanor theft of property, and burglary of an automobile. The Defendant received a concurrent term of eleven years for the aggravated robbery and three years for the felony theft of property, which was aligned consecutively to a concurrent term of two years for burglary of an automobile and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor theft of property, for an effective sentence of thirteen years’ imprisonment. The Defendant’s principal complaint on appeal is that the juvenile transfer hearing was “marred by procedural defects” because (1) the order by the juvenile court judge appointing the juvenile magistrate judge was “silent regarding any necessity or good cause [for the juvenile judge] to be absent;” and (2) the transfer hearing was conducted by a judge who did not identify herself as a “substitute judge” until the end of the hearing, depriving the Defendant of an opportunity to object and appeal to the elected juvenile court judge The Defendant also argues that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 40-35- 122, which prohibits continuous confinement for non-violent property offenses, and in imposing partial consecutive sentencing. Upon our review, we affirm.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/22
State of Tennessee v. Daniel J. Jamison
M2021-01302-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Daniel J. Jamison, entered an open plea of guilty to aggravated burglary, theft of property valued at less than $1,000, aggravated criminal trespass, and public intoxication. The trial court imposed an effective six-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction, followed by a consecutive sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county jail with all but ninety days to be served on supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that his sentence was excessive. Following our review of the entire record, oral arguments, and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Moore County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/22
Melvin A. Odom v. State of Tennessee
M2022-00252-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson
Petitioner, Melvin A. Odom, appeals the summary dismissal of his post-conviction petition
as time-barred. On appeal, he contends that the correct date to determine the statute of
limitations is the day the trial court filed an amended judgment on one of his convictions
and by that date, his petition was timely filed. Alternatively, he contends that due process
considerations warrant the tolling of the one-year statute of limitations and requests that
the case be remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether he is entitled to
equitable tolling. Following our review of the entire record, oral arguments, and the
parties’ briefs, the dismissal is affirmed.
Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/22
Timothy L. Jefferson v. State of Tennessee
M2022-00456-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Wayne Collins

The Petitioner, Timothy L. Jefferson, appeals the Trousdale County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his pro se petition seeking habeas corpus relief from his conviction for second degree murder, for which he received an effective sentence of forty years in prison. On appeal, the Petitioner argues he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because he was illegally restrained as a result of a procedurally defective juvenile petition. After review, we affirm the judgment summarily dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/22
Angela Marie Heisig v. Andrew Carl Heisig
E2021-00925-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle E. Hedrick

This appeal requires interpretation of a clause in the parties’ marital dissolution agreement. The final decree, entered in January 2018, incorporated the parties’ agreement awarding the wife $130,000 from the husband’s 401(k). After several rounds of qualified domestic relation orders and other court orders, the trial court ultimately held that the wife was entitled to $130,000 plus approximately four months of statutory interest. The wife appealed, seeking earnings on the $130,000 in addition to interest. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/29/22
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Anthony Szostak, III
M2021-00443-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

Defendant, Joseph Anthony Szostak, III, claims that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his request for alternative sentencing and ordering him to serve his sentence of three years and six months in confinement. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/22
Louise Faulkner ET AL. v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC
W2020-01148-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary L. Wagner

This case involves a controversy surrounding certain real property located in Memphis. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the Defendant on most claims, and after a jury trial and verdict in favor of the Defendant, the remaining claim was also dismissed. Although the homeowner of the property raises a number of issues in this appeal, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/29/22
William Coley v. State of Tennessee
M2021-01243-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn
The Petitioner, William Coley, appeals the denial of his petition seeking post-conviction
relief from his convictions of first-degree felony murder, second degree murder, and
especially aggravated robbery, for which he received an effective sentence of life
imprisonment. The Petitioner argues for the first time on appeal that the post-conviction
court violated his due process rights by conducting his post-conviction hearing jointly with
the post-conviction hearing of his then co-defendant, now Petitioner Markreo Quintez
Springer. He additionally claims ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s
failure to file a pretrial severance motion based on Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123,
136-137 (1968), and trial counsel’s failure to challenge the chain of custody regarding the
State’s DNA evidence.1 Upon our review, we affirm.
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/22
State of Tennessee v. James Berg
M2022-00233-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant, James Berg, entered guilty pleas to aggravated sexual battery and two counts of rape of a child. The Defendant agreed to a concurrent term of twenty-five years for the rape of a child convictions and a term of fifteen years for the aggravated sexual battery conviction, with the alignment of these terms of imprisonment to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the terms to be served consecutively, for an effective sentence of forty years’ imprisonment. The sole issue presented on appeal is whether the trial court abused its discretion in ordering consecutive sentencing. Upon our review, we affirm.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/22
Jessica Marie Forsythe, et al. v. Jackson Madison County General Hospital District, et al.
W2021-01228-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The trial court granted the defendant medical providers summary judgment on the basis of the plaintiff s failure to comply with the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act's pre-suit notice and good faith certificate requirements. On appeal, the plaintiff, an employee of the defendants, argues that her claim does not relate to the provision of health care services and that she was therefore not required to give pre-suit notice or file a good faith certificate. Because we conclude that the trial court did not err in determining that the claim is related to the provision of health care services, we affirm.

Madison County Court of Appeals 11/28/22
In Re Melvin M. et al.
M2021-01319-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sheila Calloway
A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his two children. The juvenile
court concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence of five statutory grounds for
terminating his parental rights. The court also concluded that there was clear and
convincing evidence that termination of the father’s parental rights was in the children’s
best interest. On appeal, although we conclude that there is not clear and convincing
evidence to support three of the grounds, clear and convincing evidence supports the
remaining grounds for termination and the best interest determination. So we affirm.
Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/28/22
Suzanne R. Vance v. Sally Ann Blue et al.
M2021-00064-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins
Co-owners sought partition of their real property. They agreed that the property, a singlefamily
home, could not be partitioned in kind. But they disagreed on the appropriate
remedy. One owner asked the court to order a public sale and divide the proceeds between
the parties. The other owner sought permission to buy out her co-owner’s interest. The
court declined to order a sale. Instead, based on the equities, it directed one owner to buy
out the other owner’s interest at a fixed price. Because the court’s decision contravened
the partition statutes, we reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand for further proceedings.
Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/28/22
In Re Cayson C., Et Al.
E2022-00448-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Lane Wolfenbarger

This appeal concerns the termination of a mother’s parental rights. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Grainger County (“the Juvenile Court”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Pamela C. (“Mother”) to her minor children Cayson S.-C. and Chaston C. (“the Children,” collectively). After a hearing on the termination petition, the Juvenile Court entered an order terminating Mother’s parental rights to the Children. Mother appeals. We vacate the ground of failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody because the Juvenile Court failed to make specific findings regarding the second prong of that ground. We find that all other grounds found by the Juvenile Court were proven by clear and convincing evidence. We find further, as did the Juvenile Court, that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the Children’s best interest. We affirm as modified.

Grainger County Court of Appeals 11/28/22
State of Tennessee v. Jason Steven Molthan
M2021-01108-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The Defendant, Jason Steven Molthan, was convicted by a Williamson County Circuit Court jury of one count of stalking and one count of harassment. The trial court imposed consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days at seventy-five percent service. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court should have merged his convictions and that the trial court erred by failing to file a consecutive sentencing order pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(c). Upon our review, we conclude that the Defendant has failed to provide this Court with an adequate appellate record and has not prepared a sufficient brief. Because we cannot conduct a meaningful appellate review of his issues, we conclude that the issues are waived. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/28/22
Martigous Malone v. State of Tennessee
W2022-00018-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Martigous Malone, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel and entered a voluntary guilty plea. Following our review, we affirm the postconviction court’s denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
State of Tennessee v. Betty Sparks
W2021-01213-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Webber McCraw

A Hardeman County jury convicted the defendant, Betty Sparks, of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, and attempted especially aggravated robbery, for which she received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress. She also contends the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support her convictions. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case for corrected judgment forms in counts one and two

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
Roddarous Marcus Bond v. State of Tennessee
W2022-00221-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The pro se petitioner, Roddarous Marcus Bond, appeals the summary denial of his petition for post-conviction relief by the Madison County Circuit Court, arguing the trial court erred in dismissing his petition because his sentence is illegal. After our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
State of Tennessee v. Courtney Watkins
W2022-00411-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Courtney Watkins, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction DNA analysis. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
Lorenta Hogue v. P&C Investments, Inc. et al.
M2021-01335-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

This is an appeal from a jury verdict holding a real estate agent liable for common law negligence, intentional misrepresentation and fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the Tennessee Real Estate Broker License Act for his failure to disclose flooding and water intrusion issues at a home he had listed for sale. The jury awarded the plaintiff, a first-time home buyer, compensatory and punitive damages. The real estate agent appeals the jury’s verdict holding him liable for intentional misrepresentation and fraud, the admission of certain expert testimony, the admission of opposing counsel’s alleged prejudicial statements during closing argument, the amount of compensatory damages, and the award of and amount of punitive damages. Finding that the trial court failed to follow the appropriate procedures in reviewing the jury’s award of punitive damages, we vacate the award of punitive damages and remand the case for further proceedings. In all other respects, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/23/22