Court Opinions

Format: 10/20/2021
Format: 10/20/2021
State of Tennessee v. Curtis O. Shelton, Jr.
M2020-00072-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman III

The Defendant, Curtis O. Shelton, Jr., was convicted by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury of felony murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate burglary, felony murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate theft, especially aggravated burglary, four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated kidnapping, and seven counts of attempted aggravated robbery.  The trial court merged the felony murder convictions and imposed an effective sentence of life plus twenty years.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his pretrial statement, (2) the evidence is insufficient to support the felony murder convictions, and (3) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentencing.  We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/19/21
State of Tennessee v. Tarik Deshawn Newman
M2019-01986-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Tarik Deshawn Newman, for one count each of aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, evading arrest in a motor vehicle with risk of death or injury, and theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000.  Following a trial, a jury convicted Defendant as charged, and the trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of nineteen years’ incarceration with a 100 percent release eligibility.  On appeal, Defendant argues (1) that the State withheld evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and in violation of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 16; (2) that the trial court erred in admitting evidence in violation of Tennessee Rules of Evidence 403 and 404(b); (3) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (4) that the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal; and (5) that the sentences were excessive.  Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/19/21
Frank E. Small v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00722-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William K. Rogers

Petitioner, Frank E. Small, was convicted in 2016, after a jury trial, of robbery and home improvement fraud. This Court affirmed Petitioner’s convictions and sentences on direct appeal. State v. Frank E. Small, No. E2017-01266-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 2383033, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 25, 2018), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 13, 2018). Petitioner appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/21
Pamela Estelle Harrison Et Al. v. Shannon Nicole Harrison
M2020-01140-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ted A. Crozier

This case involves a same-sex divorce and the resultant child custody issues regarding two children born during the marriage through artificial insemination. The sperm donor intervened in the divorce proceeding requesting the court establish him as the children’s legal father and award him parenting time. The trial court denied his request to be named the children’s legal father based on its interpretation and application of Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-3-306, Tennessee’s artificial insemination statute. The sperm donor appeals, challenging the court’s refusal to name him as a parent or award him visitation. We affirm the trial court in all respects.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 10/15/21
State of Tennessee v. Jerry Carter, Sr.
W2020-00478-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Jerry Carter, Sr., appeals from his jury convictions for three counts of rape of a child, three counts of incest, three counts of soliciting the sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of child abuse and his resulting sentence of 168 years, 11 months, and 29 days. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred when it ruled that the Defendant’s prior 2003 convictions for statutory rape and sexual battery were relevant and admissible; (2) the trial court’s rulings regarding the defense’s ability to cross-examine witnesses impermissibly restricted the Defendant’s right to put on a defense; (3) the trial court erred when it characterized the text messages between the Defendant and one of the victims as a confession or admission against interest and gave the jury the corresponding instruction; and (4) the cumulative effect of the errors entitle him to a new trial. Though we do not find that any of the issues raised by the Defendant entitle him to relief, we remand this case due to errors with the judgment forms—there was no judgment form entered for Count 8 (aggravated sexual battery), which was dismissed, and the trial court’s imposed sentences of twelve years for both Counts 9 and 10, but the judgment forms incorrectly reflect sentences of eight years. In all other respects, the judgments are affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/21
Shaun Rondale Cross v. State of Tennessee
M2021-00183-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

Petitioner, Shaun Rondale Cross, pled guilty to possession with the intent to sell twenty-six grams or more of cocaine and was sentenced to twenty-five years as a Range III, persistent offender. After an unsuccessful post-conviction petition, Petitioner filed a second post-conviction petition along with an untimely petition for writ of error coram nobis based on a claim of newly discovered evidence of actual innocence. Following an evidentiary hearing, the coram nobis court dismissed the motion to reopen post-conviction and denied the error coram nobis petition. On appeal, Petitioner claims the coram nobis court erred by denying him error coram nobis relief. Following review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/21
Udo R. Liell v. Paul Stich
M2020-01071-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

When negotiations over the sale of a boat broke down, the prospective seller and buyer sued each other. Before their claims came to trial, the parties agreed to voluntarily dismiss their claims without prejudice and to try mediation. The agreement provided that, if mediation failed, claims must be refiled within one year of the effective date of the agreement. The buyer refiled his claims against the seller just over one year after the effective date of the agreement but within one year of the dismissal of the original case. The trial court granted the seller’s motion to dismiss, concluding the buyer’s claims were time-barred under the parties’ agreement. We affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Damian McGlown a/k/a Damion McGlown
W2020-01327-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Following a jury trial, Damian McGlown, Defendant, was convicted of one count of aggravated rape for “unlawfully, knowingly, or recklessly sexually penetrat[ing] and caus[ing] bodily injury” to his adult niece, and he was sentenced to seventeen years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant claims that the evidence failed to show that Defendant caused bodily injury to the victim and, therefore, was insufficient to support his conviction of aggravated rape. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/21
Shahnaz Poursaied v. Tennessee Board of Nursing
M2020-01235-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor J.B. Cox

Tennessee’s Department of Health (“TDH” or “the Department”) sought reciprocal revocation of a registered nurse’s Tennessee license after her registered nurse license was revoked in California.  After a hearing on the matter, which the nurse did not attend, the Tennessee Board of Nursing (“Board”) entered a default judgment against the nurse and revoked her Tennessee license.  The nurse appealed to the chancery court and brought an action for damages against the Board.  The chancery court affirmed the Board’s decision and dismissed the nurse’s action for damages.  The nurse then appealed to this Court. We affirm the chancery court in all respects.

Lincoln County Court of Appeals 10/14/21
Paul Zachary Moss v. Shelby County Civil Service Merit Board
W2017-01813-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

This appeal arises from a petition for judicial review of a decision of the Shelby County Civil Service Merit Board. The appellant was a firefighter and paramedic and was terminated from his employment after he was involved in a physical altercation at a political rally. After a hearing, the Board upheld his termination. The appellant then sought judicial review in chancery court. After reviewing the administrative record, the chancery court likewise upheld termination. On appeal, this Court concluded that the decision upholding the appellant’s termination should be reversed due to a violation of his due process rights. The Tennessee Supreme Court found no due process violation and reversed the decision of this Court, remanding for consideration of alternative arguments raised by the appellant that were deemed pretermitted in our previous opinion. Having carefully considered the appellant’s alternative arguments, we affirm the chancery court’s rulings on some issues but ultimately must vacate in part the decision upholding termination and remand for further proceedings before the Board.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Scott
W2020-01574-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Appellant, Calvin Scott, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The Appellant also contends that the trial court had jurisdiction to address an issue regarding his pretrial jail credits and that the trial court should have recused itself from his case. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/21
Calvin Banks v. State of Tennessee
W2020-01164-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

Petitioner, Calvin Banks, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree premeditated murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a weapon. The trial court imposed an effective life sentence. Petitioner’s convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/21
William Casey v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00701-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Petitioner, William Casey, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions for first degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of aggravated rape for offenses that occurred in 1979 and 1980. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on direct appeal, that the
post-conviction court erred in failing to rule upon his motion in limine seeking to exclude the State from presenting any evidence protected by attorney-client privilege, and that the Petitioner is entitled to relief due to cumulative error. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Barnett
E2020-01542-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Knox County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Kenneth Barnett, for ten counts of aggravated burglary with intent to commit theft, ten alternative counts of aggravated burglary while committing theft, ten counts of theft, and two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Prior to trial, the trial court dismissed the ten alternative counts of aggravated burglary while committing theft. Following trial, the jury convicted Defendant of six counts of aggravated burglary, six counts of theft, and both counts of unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, for which the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of thirty-five years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
Matthew Keith Hubbard v. Claiborne County Board of Education Et Al.
E2020-00517-COA-Rr3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth C. Asbury

A tenured teacher appealed his dismissal for unprofessional conduct and insubordination. He contended that the decision of the Board of Education lacked sufficient evidentiary support. The teacher also contended that the decision was arbitrary and capricious and in violation of his constitutional and statutory rights. The trial court affirmed the Board’s decision. Upon review, we conclude that the teacher received pre-termination notice of the charges and evidence against him. And the Board complied with the procedural framework in the Tenure Act. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-5-512 (2020). The evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings that the teacher was guilty of unprofessional conduct and insubordination. We further conclude that the teacher failed to establish that the Board’s decision was arbitrary or in violation of statutory or constitutional rights. So we affirm.

Claiborne County Court of Appeals 10/13/21
Kacy Collums Davis v. Richard E. Davis, Jr.
W2019-02245-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd

In this divorce case, Richard E. Davis, Jr. (“Husband”) challenges the trial court’s division of the marital estate, the award of spousal support and attorney’s fees to Kacy Collums Davis (“Wife”), and the trial court’s designation of Wife as primary residential parent. Wife asserts that the trial court erred in its division of the marital estate, in declining to award her 100% of her attorney’s fees, in denying her motion to disqualify the guardian ad litem, in awarding the parties equal parenting time, and in calculating Husband’s income for child support purposes. We modify the division of the marital estate (1) to correct a miscalculation, agreed by the parties to have been a clerical error in the trial court’s order, counting Wife’s retirement account twice; and (2) to reflect that Wife shall be responsible for the debt for her first attorney’s fees, which is secured by a lien on the marital residence. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/13/21
Thomas A. Smythe v. Fourth Avenue Church Of Christ, Inc.
M2020-01190-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

This appeal involves a contract issue concerning a purported addendum to a land purchase and sale agreement. The trial court granted the seller’s motion for summary judgment holding that there was no mutual assent on at least one material term: whether the modification would include a new date-certain deadline for the diligence period or be openended. The buyer appeals. We affirm.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 10/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Juan Lasean Perry
M2020-01169-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Juan LaSean Perry, appeals the trial court’s summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 in which he challenged his twenty-five-year sentence resulting from his second degree murder conviction in 2005. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
Ethan Alexander Self v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01420-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

Petitioner, Ethan Alexander Self, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first-degree premeditated murder conviction, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of counsel. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
Bert Newby v. State of Tennessee
W2020-00991-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Petitioner, Bert Newby, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court improperly determined that his petition was time-barred and that he presented newly discovered evidence of a witness’s recanted testimony, which may have resulted in a different judgment had it been presented at trial. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Jaquarius D. Carpenter
W2020-00896-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Defendant, Jaquarius D. Carpenter, was convicted by a jury of possession with the intent to sell 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, possession with the intent to deliver 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court imposed an effective eighteen-year sentence, as a Range II multiple offender, to be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for possession with the intent to sell or deliver cocaine and simple possession of marijuana. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Bryant Christopher Mitchell
E2020-01689-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Bryant Christopher Mitchell, Defendant, appeals from his conviction of first degree murder, for which he received a life sentence. On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. After a complete review, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
Stevie Michael Irwin v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01598-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The petitioner, Stevie Michael Irwin, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Griggs
W2020-01686-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

A Hardeman County jury convicted the Defendant, Joseph Griggs, of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred when it sentenced him. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/21
Kodi Gail Knight v. The City of Fairview, Williamson County, Tennessee
M2020-01433-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Joseph A. Woodruff

This appeal concerns a police officer’s termination. Kodi Gail Knight (“Knight”) was a police officer for the City of Fairview, Tennessee (“Fairview”). After an August 2019 incident in which Knight struck a handcuffed woman (“the Arrestee”) in the face, Fairview police chief Zack Humphreys (“Chief Humphreys”) submitted a request to City Manager Scott Collins (“the City Manager”) that Knight be terminated. The City Manager sent Knight a termination letter. Knight requested, and was granted, a pre-dismissal hearing before the City Manager. Following this hearing, the City Manager affirmed the decision to terminate Knight. Knight filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Williamson County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court affirmed Fairview’s termination of Knight. Knight appeals, arguing among other things that his procedural due process rights were violated because the City Manager both drafted his termination letter and presided over his pre-dismissal hearing. We find that Knight was an at-will employee who lacked a property interest entitling him to procedural due process protection. We also find that the City Manager’s decision was supported by substantial and material evidence and was neither arbitrary nor capricious. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 10/12/21