State of Tennessee v. Justin Daniel Barker
W2022-01631-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

A Henry County jury found Defendant, Justin Daniel Barker, guilty of two counts of rape (under alternate theories) and one count of aggravated statutory rape. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of eight and a half years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues the trial court erred in admitting testimony related to Defendant’s pending criminal proceedings in another jurisdiction, and he contends the evidence was insufficient to sustain the jury’s verdicts. After review, we conclude the trial court erred in admitting evidence related to the pending criminal proceedings, but such error was harmless. We also conclude the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henry Court of Criminal Appeals

Ben Smith et al. v. William A. White et al.
M2023-00030-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Wayne Collins

The appellees sold a portion of their property to the appellants. The appellees sued the appellants seeking an easement by necessity. The appellants maintained that Tenn. Code Ann § 54-14-102 and its associated statutes prohibited such an easement. The trial court granted a common law easement by necessity. We agree with the trial court’s determination that the 2020 amendments to Tenn. Code Ann § 54-14-102 and its associated statutes did not change the common law regarding easements by necessity. However, due to the lack of a hearing and the corresponding lack of evidence, the improper use of the trial judge’s visit to the property as a fact-finding mission, and the uncertain procedures used to decide the case, we vacate the trial court’s order and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

Jackson Court of Appeals

Michael White v. Vincent Vantell, Warden
M2023-00967-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Wayne Collins

A Marshall County jury convicted the Petitioner, Michael White, of five counts of rape in 2005, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of fifty-five years. Thereafter, the Petitioner filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus. He alleged that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear his case because, among other things, the original affidavit of complaint was invalid and that his charges were not supported by probable cause. The habeas corpus court summarily denied the application, finding that the Petitioner failed to state a colorable claim for relief and that he failed to comply with the statutory requirements for requesting the writ. Upon our review, we respectfully affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Trousdale Court of Criminal Appeals

Tassi Williams v. Rodney Wayne Williams, Jr.
E2023-00810-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gregory S. McMillan

This appeal arises from the issuance of an order of protection against the appellant, Rodney Williams, Jr. We, however, have determined that the appellant’s brief is profoundly deficient for it fails to comply with Rule 27(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rule 6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee in several material respects. Based on the appellant’s failure to substantially comply with Rule 27(a)(6)–(7) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rule 6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, the appellant has waived his right to an appeal. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed.

Knox Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Ruben D. Pimentel
M2023-00599-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

In 2005, the Defendant, Ruben D. Pimentel, pled guilty to the offense of first degree murder and accepted a negotiated sentence of imprisonment for life without possibility of parole. Thereafter, he filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. He alleged that his sentence was illegal because it violates Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-501(h)(2), as amended in 2020, which provides that a defendant may be released from a life sentence after sixty years. The trial court summarily denied the motion, finding that the Defendant’s sentence was not illegal. Upon our review, we respectfully disagree with the Defendant and affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Warren Court of Criminal Appeals

Brandi Michelle Rose v. Timothy Elvin Rose
W2023-01445-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Vicki Hodge Hoover

Appellants, Rose Sawmill, Inc. and Shiloh Golf Course, Inc., have appealed an order of the
Hardin County Chancery Court that was entered on September 14, 2023. We determine
that the September 14, 2023 order does not constitute a final appealable judgment.
Therefore, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The appeal is dismissed.

Hardin Court of Appeals

In Re Evandor C.
M2022-01697-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ronnie J. T. Blevins, II

This appeal arises from a petition to terminate the parental rights of a mother and a father to their son. The trial court found that three grounds for termination existed as to the parents: (1) substantial noncompliance with a permanency plan; (2) persistent conditions; and (3) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody. The trial court also found that the termination was in the best interest of the child. The mother and the father appeal. We reverse the trial court’s finding that clear and convincing evidence established the ground of persistent conditions. However, we affirm its findings that the remaining grounds were proven as to both parents and that termination was in the best interest of the child.

Marion Court of Appeals

Kendall Collier Ex Rel. Chayce C. v. Periculis Roussis, M.D. Et Al.
E2022-00636-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge William T. Ailor

This appeal concerns juror misconduct. Chayce Collier (“Chayce”), a minor, by and through his parent and next friend, Kendall Collier (“Plaintiff”), sued Periclis Roussis, M.D. (“Dr. Roussis”), Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center (“the Hospital”) (“Defendants,” collectively) in the Circuit Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”) alleging health care liability in Chayce’s delivery. A major issue at trial was whether Dr. Roussis fell below the standard of care by failing to administer epinephrine to Plaintiff when she had an anaphylactic reaction during labor. The jury found for Defendants. However, it emerged that a juror had gone home and looked at the warning on an epipen which said that epinephrine should only be used when the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. The juror shared this information with the rest of the jury. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which the Trial Court first granted and then denied. Plaintiff appeals. Under Tenn. R. Evid. 606(b), jurors may not be asked what effect, if any, that extraneous information had on them. Instead, courts look to the extraneous information itself to determine whether there is a reasonable possibility that it altered the verdict. We hold that there is a reasonable possibility that the extraneous information shared with the jury in this case altered the verdict, and Defendants failed to rebut the presumption of prejudice. The Trial Court applied an incorrect legal standard and thereby abused its discretion in denying Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. We reverse the judgment of the Trial Court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Knox Court of Appeals

Frank Reed Et Al. v. Town of Louisville, Tennessee Et Al.
E2023-00438-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

This appeal involves a decision by the Town of Louisville Board of Zoning Appeals (“BZA”) that was upheld on review by the Blount County Circuit Court (“trial court”). At its May 5, 2020 hearing, the BZA granted appellee William Mattison’s request for a variance to allow him to construct an accessory, non-attached garage on his improved real property, which structure would purportedly exceed the height limit set by town ordinance. The appellants, Frank and Tina Reed, who own property adjacent to Mr. Mattison’s property and who had opposed Mr. Mattison’s request for a variance, filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the trial court on July 5, 2022, seeking review of the BZA’s decision. The trial court conducted hearings on the Reeds’ petition in January and February 2023. On February 27, 2023, the trial court entered a final order affirming the BZA’s decision to grant a variance to Mr. Mattison. The trial court found that there was a rational basis for the BZA’s decision, which was supported by material evidence, and that the BZA had acted within its scope of authority and discretion. The Reeds timely appealed. Determining that there existed no material evidence of any particular characteristic of the real property warranting the grant of a variance, we reverse the trial court’s judgment affirming the BZA’s decision and vacate the BZA’s grant of a variance to Mr. Mattison as illegal and outside the BZA’s authority.

Blount Court of Appeals

In Re Macee M.
E2023-00985-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John F. Weaver

The father and stepmother of Macee M. filed a petition to terminate the mother’s parental rights on three grounds. The trial court found that one ground had been proven, abandonment for failure to support, and that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in Macee’s best interest. Based on these findings, the mother’s parental rights were terminated. The mother appeals. We affirm the termination of her parental rights.

Knox Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Karla Marie Clausell
E2022-01662-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Defendant, Karla Marie Clausell, appeals as of right from her conviction for first degree
premeditated murder, for which she is serving a life sentence. On appeal, Defendant
contends that the trial court erred by admitting evidence from Snapchat in violation of
Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(a) and by admitting Snapchat and Facebook messages in
violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b). She also contends that the cumulative
effect of these errors entitles her to a new trial. After a thorough review of the evidence
and applicable case law, we affirm.

Bradley Court of Criminal Appeals

In Re Azalea B. et al.
M2023-00656-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Meadows

In this case involving termination of the father’s and mother’s parental rights to two of their minor children, the trial court determined that three statutory grounds had been proven as to each parent by clear and convincing evidence. The trial court further determined that clear and convincing evidence demonstrated that termination of the father’s and mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interest. The father and mother have each appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

White Court of Appeals

James Williams v. Smyrna Residential, LLC et al.
M2021-00927-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Sarah K. Campbell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bonita J. Atwood

Granville Williams, Jr., died while residing at an assisted-living facility. The central question in this appeal is whether his son’s ensuing wrongful-death action against the facility must be arbitrated. To answer that question, we must resolve two subsidiary issues—first, whether the attorney-in-fact who signed the arbitration agreement as Williams’s representative had authority to do so and, second, whether Williams’s son and other wrongful-death beneficiaries who were not parties to the arbitration agreement nevertheless are bound by it. We hold that signing an optional arbitration agreement—that is, one that is not a condition of admission to a health care facility—is not a “health care decision” within the meaning of the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Act. The durable power of attorney that gave Williams’s attorney-in-fact authority to act for him in “all claims and litigation matters” thus provided authority to enter the optional arbitration agreement even though it did not specifically grant authority to make health care decisions. We further hold that Williams’s son is bound by the arbitration agreement because his wrongful-death claims are derivative of his father’s claims. Because we conclude that the claims in this action are subject to arbitration, we reverse the Court of Appeals’ contrary decision and remand to the trial court.

Rutherford Supreme Court

James Williams v. Smyrna Residential, LLC et al. (Dissenting)
M2021-00927-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bonita J. Atwood

To enforce and compel arbitration in this case, the majority rewrites a health care facility admission contract, disregards the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Act, ignores precedent, and creates confusion in an important area of the law. I respectfully dissent.

Rutherford Supreme Court

Brian Philip Manookian v. Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee (Dissenting)
M2022-00075-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

While this Court has inherent jurisdiction over attorney disciplinary matters, attorneys must be afforded fair notice and an opportunity to be heard. For the first time, this Court has increased an attorney’s discipline through the exercise of the Court’s inherent jurisdiction outside of the process outlined in Rule 9 by disbarring Brian Philip Manookian without giving fair notice of its intent. I dissent from the Court’s decision to disbar Mr. Manookian and would affirm the hearing panel’s finding of a twenty-four-month suspension. Neither the hearing panel nor the trial court erred.

Davidson Supreme Court

James Williams v. Smyrna Residential, LLC et al. (Dissenting)
M2021-00927-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bonita J. Atwood

I agree with many of the points made in Justice Lee’s dissenting opinion. I write separately out of concern about the practical implications of the majority’s decision to leave the law so unsettled in an area that touches so many.

Rutherford Supreme Court

Brian Philip Manookian v. Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee
M2022-00075-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

In this lawyer disciplinary case, the lawyer’s conduct compels disbarment. The lawyer sent a series of intimidating, demeaning, embarrassing, and harassing communications to opposing counsel and others. Some targeted family members of opposing counsel, including one family member who was also a former client, and caused well-founded concern for their well-being and safety. In the ensuing disciplinary proceedings, a Board of Professional Responsibility hearing panel found that the purpose of the communications was to intimidate opposing counsel in order to gain unfair advantage in pending litigation. It concluded inter alia that the lawyer’s conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice, that he failed to respect the rights of third persons, and that he violated his duty to a former client, in violation of Tennessee’s Rules of Professional Conduct. The hearing panel said the presumptive sanction was disbarment, found four aggravating factors, and found no mitigating circumstances. Without explanation, the hearing panel recommended a two-year suspension instead of disbarment. The attorney appealed to the trial court. The trial court indicated that, had the Board of Professional Responsibility filed a separate petition for review, the trial court would have recommended disbarment, but because the Board did not, the trial court affirmed the sanction of suspension. Both parties appeal. Here, the lawyer’s conduct was egregious. Victimizing the families of opposing counsel and causing concern for their well-being and safety is an especially grave offense and a profound dishonor as a lawyer. The hearing panel’s decision to deviate downward from the presumptive sanction of disbarment was arbitrary and capricious, and the lawyer must be disbarred. Accordingly, we modify the judgment of the hearing panel and impose the sanction of disbarment.

Davidson Supreme Court

In Re: Freddy P.
E2023-00042-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Douglas T. Jenkins

The trial court denied a petition for termination of parental rights as to Mother, despite
finding two grounds for termination, based on petitioner’s failure to establish that
termination was in the best interest of the child. Petitioner appeals the trial court’s
determination that a third ground for termination was not found, as well as the finding that
termination was not in the best interest of the child. Based on the record before us, we (1)
affirm the denial of failure to visit; (2) affirm the finding of failure to support; (3) reverse
the finding of persistence of conditions; and (4) affirm the finding that terminating
Mother’s parental rights is not in the best interest of the child.

Greene Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Michael M. Cook
W2022-01534-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The defendant, Michael M. Cook, was convicted of one count of aggravated rape and two
counts of aggravated kidnapping for which he received an effective term of twenty-five
years’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) police contamination of the
condom that yielded the defendant’s DNA profile resulted in a fundamentally unfair trial
under State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999); (2) the trial court erred in not
requiring chain of custody after the police mispackaged the condom in a way that degrades
DNA; (3) the identification of the defendant’s voice based on his testimony at the Momon
hearing resulted in a fundamentally unfair trial; (4) the prosecution commented on the
defendant’s silence by arguing the defendant’s rights prevented a non-suggestive voice
identification; (5) improper argument by the State throughout trial affected the verdict; (6)
the trial court failed to give a full and complete charge of the law by not instructing the
jury on identification and other instructions requested by the defendant; and (7) the
cumulative errors in the case warrant reversal. Following a thorough review of the record,
the briefs, and oral arguments of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Edward Parnell Porter v. State of Tennessee
M2023-00756-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Petitioner, Edward Parnell Porter, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall Court of Criminal Appeals

Thomas Burrell v. Tipton County Election Commission, et al.
W2023-00312-COA-R10-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kasey Culbreath

Appellant attorney appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to appear pro hac vice on
procedural grounds. We affirm.

Tipton Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Misty Paul
W2023-00830-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph T. Howell

The defendant, Misty Paul, appeals the order of the trial court revoking her probation and
ordering her to serve her modified six-year sentence in confinement. Upon our review of
the record, the parties’ briefs, and oral arguments, we affirm the revocation and disposition
of the defendant’s probation, but remand for the sole determination by the trial court as to
whether to credit the defendant with time successfully spent in compliance with probation
pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-310(a).

Chester Court of Criminal Appeals

Troius Saville Russell v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00907-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tony Childress

The petitioner, Torius Saville Russell, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction
relief, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance
of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Dyer Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Brandon R. Richardson
M2022-01675-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Howard W. Wilson

Brandon R. Richardson, Defendant, was convicted by a jury of two counts of vehicular assault, one count of felony reckless endangerment, misdemeanor reckless endangerment, evading arrest, driving under the influence, driving without a license, and a violation of the open container law. In a motion for new trial, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in overruling his challenge to multiple members of the jury pool for cause. The trial court denied the motion for new trial. Defendant sought an untimely appeal; this Court waived the timeliness requirement. On appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court’s decision to deny Defendant’s challenge for cause to members of the jury pool. After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Eric Tyre Patton
M2023-00801-CCA-WR-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry R. Tidwell

Eric Tyre Patton, Defendant, was convicted of two Class A felony drug offenses committed within the 1000-foot prohibited zone of an elementary school and was sentenced to consecutive terms of twenty-five years at 100% service. Defendant filed a motion for resentencing pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-432(h). The trial court found that granting a shorter sentence was not in the interests of justice and denied the motion. Defendant filed a petition seeking certiorari and/or extraordinary review. This court denied extraordinary review but granted the petition seeking certiorari and ordered the record to be assembled and transmitted for this court to conduct a review of the trial court’s ruling. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford Court of Criminal Appeals