Court Opinions

Format: 12/08/2022
Format: 12/08/2022
State of Tennessee v. David Wayne Eady
M2021-00388-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Defendant, David Wayne Eady, was convicted by a jury of eleven counts of aggravated robbery and one count of attempted aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a repeat violent offender and imposed eleven concurrent sentences of life without the possibility of parole. The trial court ran the life imprisonment sentences concurrently with a fifteen-year sentence for the attempted aggravated robbery conviction. On appeal, Defendant contends 1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to sever the offenses; 2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to suppress his statements; 3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to disqualify the District Attorney General’s Office, 4) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for aggravated robbery as charged in count eight of the indictment; and 5) his convictions for aggravated robbery as charged in counts one and two of the indictment violate Double Jeopardy as a matter of plain error. Because the facts and circumstances support only one conviction for aggravated robbery as charged in counts one and two, we merge the two counts, and remand for entry of amended judgments in counts one and two reflecting the merger. In all other respects, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/22
Jason C. Johnson v. Tennessee Department of Corrections et al.
M2022-01265-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: PER CURIAM
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

This is an appeal from an order dismissing an inmate’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari. Because the inmate did not file his notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the order as required by Rule 4(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/13/22
Columbia Housing & Redevelopment Corp. v. Kinsley Braden
M2021-00329-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr., Presiding Judge
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen

This is a detainer action brought by a landlord to evict its tenant for possessing a firearm in his apartment in contravention of the lease agreement. The landlord, Columbia Housing & Redevelopment Corporation (“Columbia Housing”), provides subsidized housing for the City of Columbia pursuant to the Housing Authorities Law, Tennessee Code Annotated § 13-20-101 to -709, and operates Creekside Acres, a multifamily, low-income public housing complex in Columbia, Tennessee. The tenant voluntarily entered into a lease agreement with Columbia Housing that contained a prohibition against firearms on the premises; nevertheless, the tenant defended the detainer action, contending that the lease agreement violated his rights under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The circuit court ruled in favor of the landlord on the ground that the lease agreement was a valid and enforceable contract, and the tenant voluntarily waived any rights he may have had to possess a firearm on the leased premises. This appeal followed. Significantly, the landlord is a governmental entity “acting as a landlord of property that it owns.” See Dep’t of Hous. & Urban Dev. v. Rucker, 535 U.S. 125, 135 (2002). As such, its actions must comply with the Constitution, see Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 930 (1982), and the unconstitutional conditions doctrine “prevent[s] the government from coercing people into giving” up constitutional rights. Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt. Dist., 570 U.S. 595, 604 (2013). Although laws “forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings” do not violate the Second Amendment, see D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 626 (2008), not “all places of public congregation” are “sensitive places.” See N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111, 2134 (2022). Moreover, although public housing is government-owned, the leased premises at issue is the tenant’s private home, which is not the kind of “sensitive place” where the government may categorically ban firearm possession. See id. at 2128. Further, complete prohibitions on possession of handguns in the home for self-defense are “historically unprecedented.” See id. Therefore, we hold that Columbia Housing’s prohibition against handguns in the tenant’s “home” is an unconstitutional lease condition. As a consequence, the tenant’s possession of a handgun in his apartment, his home, did not constitute a breach of the lease agreement. Accordingly, the judgment of the circuit court is reversed, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Maury County Court of Appeals 10/13/22
Anthony Herron, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2020-01731-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner James A. Hamilton, III

This is a consolidated appeal involving two breach of contract actions filed against the Tennessee Department of Human Services in the Tennessee Claims Commission. Following the presentation of the claimant’s proof, the Commissioner dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm the dismissal.

Court of Appeals 10/13/22
In Re Nash M.
E2021-01126-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.
Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. Because of the lack of a sufficiently complete record on appeal, we vacate the trial court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings.
Knox County Court of Appeals 10/13/22
Mandon Rogers v. State of Tennessee
W2022-00019-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Mandon Rogers, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/22
Buddy Davis v. Tennessee Board of Appeals
M2020-01255-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins
A preferred service employee appealed the termination of his employment. After failing
to obtain relief at the Step I and Step II reviews, the employee requested a Step III hearing
before the Tennessee Board of Appeals. The Board determined that the employee engaged
in conduct unbecoming of an employee in state service but termination was too harsh a
punishment. So it modified the employee’s discipline to a one-step demotion and
recommended that he be transferred. The employee sought judicial review of the Board’s
decision. The chancery court reversed, finding that the decision to demote the employee
was not supported by substantial and material evidence. We reverse the chancery court
and affirm the decision of the Board.
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/12/22
Joe L. Ford v. State of Tennessee
W2022-00247-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The petitioner, Joe L. Ford, 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.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/22
Randall R. Ward v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01421-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The petitioner, Randall R. Ward, 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.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/22
Michael Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01493-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge A. Blake Neill

The pro se petitioner, Michael Williams, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Hardeman County Circuit Court, arguing the trial court erred in summarily 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.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/22
In Re Kansas B., et al.
M2021-00827-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a dependency and neglect petition with respect to four children, two of whom are the eldest children of the mother and her first husband and two of whom are the youngest children of the mother and her current husband. DCS filed the petition upon receiving a referral that the mother’s sevenyear- old daughter from her first marriage had been sexually abused by her stepfather, the mother’s current husband. The stepfather sought to call the seven-year-old child as a witness during the trial, but the trial court denied his request upon balancing the probative value of the child’s testimony with the potential emotional and psychological harm the child could suffer from testifying. The mother and stepfather have appealed. Upon thorough review, we conclude that the trial court erred in utilizing this balancing test and precluding the stepfather from calling the child as a witness. We therefore vacate the trial court’s final judgment adjudicating the children dependent and neglected and remand the case so that the trial court may hear the child’s testimony, provided that the child is competent to testify and that the court does not exclude the testimony pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 403. If the child is allowed to testify, the trial court should consider utilizing the accommodations set forth in Tennessee Rule of Juvenile Practice and Procedure 306 to ameliorate any potential harm that testifying may cause the child.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 10/12/22
Jerry Burkes v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00861-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Petitioner, Jerry Burkes, appeals from the Greene County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for money laundering, theft of property valued at $60,000 or more, and twelve counts of sales tax evasion. On appeal, he argues he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The Petitioner also contends that the State violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by withholding records relevant to his tax liability; that he was convicted upon an invalid presentment; that he was deprived of a fair and impartial grand jury in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; that the trial court admitted evidence at trial in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b); and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for money laundering.1 After reviewing the record, we conclude that the Petitioner failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance from appellate counsel and that the remainder of the Petitioner’s claims have been previously determined, waived, or do not entitle him to relief. Accordingly, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/22
State of Tennessee v. Phillip David Daniel
M2021-01122-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that Phillip David Daniel, Defendant, violated the terms of his probation by incurring new criminal charges and ordered the execution of the sentence as originally entered. On appeal, Defendant concedes that he violated his probation but claims that the trial court erred by ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence. Following a de novo review of the record, we affirm the sentence imposed by the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/22
Adam S. Massengill v. State of Tennessee
E2022-00092-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Petitioner, Adam S. Massengill, entered a guilty plea to sixteen counts of aggravated statutory rape, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of twenty-five years’ incarceration pursuant to the plea agreement. Thereafter, the Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief, and the post-conviction court denied relief. The Petitioner appeals, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was involuntary and unknowing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/22
State of Tennessee v. Clifton Lawrence Still
E2021-01009-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant-Appellant, Clifton Lawrence Still, entered a guilty plea to one count of kidnapping, a Class C Felony, and received an eight-year sentence, with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant’s application for alternative sentencing and ordered the eight-year sentence to be served in confinement in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in denying alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/22
Julius Q. Perkins v. State of Tennessee
M2022-00268-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Pro se petitioner, Julius Q. Perkins, filed a motion seeking relief from his felony murder conviction pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 and the Post-Conviction Fingerprint Analysis Act of 2021. Said motion was summarily dismissed by the trial court. Because the instant notice of appeal was not timely filed, and the petitioner has failed to provide any basis to excuse the untimely filing, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/22
Friendship Water Co. v. City of Friendship, Tennessee
W2021-00659-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

This is an interlocutory appeal considered pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. Specifically at issue is the trial court’s ruling that a contract entered into between the parties is valid and enforceable. The City of Friendship insists that the contract at issue, which involves its purchase of a water distribution system, is void due to the operation of the Municipal Purchasing Law of 1983, Tenn. Code Ann. § 6-56-301 et seq. For the specific reasons stated herein, we respectfully reject the City’s argument and affirm the trial court’s holding that the contract at issue is enforceable.

Crockett County Court of Appeals 10/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Bradi Baker
W2021-00085-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant-Appellant, Bradi Baker, was found guilty of second degree murder by a Madison County circuit court jury based on the shooting death of her ex-husband. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210(a)(1). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: 1) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting Exhibits 4B and 4C, two cell phone videos taken from the victim’s phone depicting his shooting death;2 2) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting Exhibit 4D, a “video compilation of other exhibits manipulated and edited by law enforcement”; 3) the trial court committed plain error by admitting Exhibit 4D in violation of the Defendant’s due process rights; 4) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction for second degree murder; and 5) the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant to twenty-five years imprisonment. After careful review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Chasity Tanesha Yancey
W2022-00131-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County Circuit Court adjudicated the defendant, Chasity Tanesha Yancey, not guilty by reason of insanity for one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, and two counts of aggravated child abuse. Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 33-7-303, the trial court ordered the defendant be diagnosed and evaluated on an outpatient basis and to comply with the recommended Mandatory Outpatient Treatment (“MOT”) plan. In a subsequent order, the trial court modified the MOT plan by imposing additional conditions upon the defendant. As a result of the modification order, the defendant filed a direct appeal, an interlocutory appeal, and an extraordinary appeal under Rules 3, 9, and 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, respectively. After the trial court denied the defendant’s Rule 9 motion, this Court consolidated the Rule 3 and Rule 10 appeals in order to address both the jurisdictional issue and the merits of the case. Upon our review, we conclude the jurisdiction of this Court lies with an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rules 9 or 10 and grant the defendant’s Rule 10 application. In doing so, we remand the case to the trial court for a hearing on the issue of whether modifications should be made to the defendant’s MOT plan.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Keyshawn Devonte Fouse
W2021-00380-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Keyshawn Devonte Fouse, of attempted first-degree murder resulting in serious bodily injury, aggravated assault, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he received an effective sentence of twenty-six years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction for attempted first-degree murder. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in allowing reference to the defendant’s nickname, “Shoota,” and in misapplying the law regarding presumptive sentences and sentencing factors. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Lynn Frank Bristol
M2019-00531-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Sarah K. Campbell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson
In this appeal, we clarify the scope of an appellate court’s limited discretionary authority to consider unpreserved and unpresented issues. Appellee Lynn Frank Bristol was convicted on two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Bristol appealed his convictions to the Court of Criminal Appeals. That court determined Bristol was not entitled to relief on the issues presented, but it reversed his convictions and remanded the case for a new trial based on a supposed problem with the written jury instructions that Bristol had not raised, that no party had an opportunity to address, and that turned out to be nothing more than a clerical error by the trial court clerk’s office. Because the Court of Criminal Appeals abused its discretion by granting relief on an unpreserved and unpresented issue without giving the parties notice and an opportunity to be heard on the matter, we reverse the Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision on the jury-instruction issue and reinstate Bristol’s convictions.
Coffee County Supreme Court 10/07/22
Jefferson Howell Et Al. v. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority D/B/A Erlanger Health System Et Al.
E2021-01197-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle E. Hedrick

This appeal involves a healthcare liability action. The plaintiffs filed suit against the defendant hospital, which is a governmental entity, alleging negligence by physicians practicing medicine within the hospital emergency department. The supervising physician was not an employee of the defendant hospital but an employee of a company contracting with the defendant hospital. The medical resident physician and medical student treating the patient in the emergency department also were not employees of the defendant hospital. During summary judgment proceedings, the plaintiffs presented no evidence of direct liability by the defendant hospital or of negligence by the nursing staff at the defendant hospital. Plaintiffs presented such evidence only as to physicians not directly employed by the defendant hospital. Determining that the physicians were not employees of the defendant hospital, the trial court held that the defendant hospital could not be held vicariously liable for the actions of these non-employee physicians under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA). As such, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant hospital. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/07/22
Matthew Reyes Camacho v. Jessica Lynne Camacho
M2021-00994-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

Mother appeals the trial court’s order naming Father primary residential parent. Because the trial court’s findings of fact are at times vague, inconsistent, and appear to improperly rely on the trial judge’s recollection of testimony from a prior hearing rather than appropriate proof, we vacate the judgment of the trial court and award Mother her reasonable attorney’s fees.

Maury County Court of Appeals 10/07/22
State of Tennessee v. Carlos Darnell Dixson
M2021-01326-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Defendant, Carlos Darnell Dixon, was convicted after a jury trial of second degree murder, a Class A felony, and two counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and sentenced to an effective thirty years in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for second degree murder; that the State infringed upon his Second Amendment right to bear arms by cross-examining him about his experience with guns and gun ownership; and that his sentence for second degree murder is excessive. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/22
State of Tennessee v. James R. Trent, III
E2021-01317-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, James R. Trent, III, of two counts of aggravated assault in concert with two or more people and one count of aggravated assault as a lesser-included offense of attempted especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the offenses into a single aggravated assault conviction and sentenced him to an effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/22