Andrew Francis Tittle v. Deidre Lyn Deyoung Tittle
M2022-01299-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Joseph A. Woodruff

This is a divorce action in which the trial court awarded the wife a divorce based on the husband’s inappropriate marital conduct, divided the marital estate and awarded the wife, inter alia, child support as well as transitional alimony of $2,000 per month for four years, followed by $1,500 per month for two years, then $1,000 per month for two years, and $500 per month for two years. The court also awarded the wife alimony in solido of $50,000 as necessary spousal support and an additional $75,000 to defray the cost of most of her attorney’s fees. The husband appeals. We have determined that the record contains an inconsistency concerning the amount of the work-related childcare expenses the husband is required to pay, and it appears that the trial court failed to consider the husband’s obligation to pay work-related childcare costs in setting transitional alimony at $2,000 per month during the first four years, which additional expense appears to impair the husband’s ability to pay that amount. Accordingly, we vacate the award of child support and that portion of the transitional alimony award and remand these issues for reconsideration, taking into account, inter alia, the allocation of childcare expenses, the wife’s need, and the husband’s ability to pay. We affirm the trial court in all other respects. Both parties seek to recover the attorney’s fees and costs each incurred in this appeal. Exercising our discretion, we deny both requests.

Williamson Court of Appeals

Henri Etta Brooks v. State of Tennessee
W2022-01340-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner James A. Hamilton, III

The Claims Commissioner dismissed the claimant’s claim due to lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals

Carter O'Neal Logistics, et al. v. Evans Petree, PC, et al.
W2024-00048-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Valerie L. Smith

The Appellants seek accelerated interlocutory review of an order denying their motion to
recuse. Because the filing fails to comply with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we
dismiss the appeal.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re: Attorney Russell E. Edwards
M2023-00986-CCA-WR-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Attorney Russell E. Edwards seeks review of the trial court’s order granting his motion to be relieved as counsel for Sergio Bermudez, the defendant in the underlying case, and prohibiting Attorney Edwards from practicing in the Criminal Court for Sumner County. Upon review, we conclude that the trial court exceeded its authority by ordering Attorney Edwards be barred from practicing law in the Criminal Court for Sumner County. We therefore issue a writ of certiorari and order that the trial court’s order prohibiting Attorney Edwards from practicing in the Sumner County Criminal Court is vacated.

Sumner Court of Criminal Appeals

Pejhman Ehsani v. Eugenia Michelle Ehsani
M2022-01819-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

This appeal arises from an order granting, among other discovery sanctions, a default judgment against Husband in a divorce proceeding. Husband questions whether the trial court abused its discretion in entering sanctions against him. Because the trial court did not engage in the necessary analysis regarding its reasoning for granting the discovery sanctions, we vacate the sanctions order, as well as the subsequent orders that followed, including the order granting the parties’ divorce. This disposition pretermits inquiry into issues Husband has raised on appeal with respect to trial court determinations that followed the sanctions. Moreover, as to a remaining matter raised by Husband on appeal, we conclude that the issue is waived due to Husband’s failure to comply with applicable briefing requirements.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Angela Askew v. Nicholas Askew
W2023-01700-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curium
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary L. Wagner

The notice of appeal in this case was not timely filed. Therefore, this Court lacks
jurisdiction to consider this appeal. The appeal is dismissed.

Shelby Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Alexander Ruben Carino
E2023-01089-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Wesley Thomas Bray

The Defendant, Alexander Ruben Carino, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. He alleged that his consecutive sentences were illegal because the trial court made no findings that consecutive sentences were appropriate. The trial court denied the motion after finding that the sentences were imposed pursuant to the Defendant’s valid plea agreement. On our review, we respectfully affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cumberland Court of Criminal Appeals

Thomas Fleming Mabry v. The Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court
E2022-00945-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

This is an appeal in a lawyer-disciplinary proceeding involving Tennessee attorney Thomas
Fleming Mabry. In March 2019, the Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition
for discipline against Mr. Mabry charging him with numerous infractions based on
complaints from several different parties. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr.
Mabry refused to participate in depositions, either in-person, telephonically, or over
videoconference. At his final disciplinary hearing conducted via Zoom, Mr. Mabry briefly
connected, by audio only, and objected to holding the hearing virtually and to the Board
introducing depositions of unavailable witnesses. He requested an indefinite continuance.
He ended the connection. The hearing continued without Mr. Mabry’s participation, and
the Hearing Panel found him in violation of multiple Tennessee Rules of Professional
Conduct. The panel permanently disbarred Mr. Mabry and ordered him to make restitution.
Mr. Mabry appealed to the chancery court claiming several procedural violations, but the
chancery court found no merit in his arguments. Mr. Mabry has now filed a direct appeal
to this Court, raising the same procedural challenges. Upon review, we agree with the
judgments of the Hearing Panel and chancery court—disbarment is the appropriate
sanction for Mr. Mabry’s actions.

Knox Supreme Court

Auxin, LLC et al. v. DW Interests, LLC et al.
M2022-01087-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jonathan L. Young

This appeal concerns a claim for declaratory judgment and counterclaims for intentional misrepresentation and breach of contract arising from a series of agreements related to the development of a hotel and conference center in Cookeville, Tennessee. The developed property was to be owned by a limited liability company, and the plaintiffs sought a declaration that they had a right to buy the defendants’ interest in that company pursuant to an option in the operating agreement, which was to become effective upon a determination that the hotel project could not be completed with two identified, adjoining pieces of property. For their part, the defendants sought awards of compensatory and punitive damages based on allegations that the plaintiffs misrepresented their ability and intent to assist with financing and development tasks and then failed to perform those tasks as required by the parties’ development agreement. After the defendants filed their answer and counter-complaint, the plaintiffs moved for judgment on the pleadings based, in principal part, on the “undisputed” fact that the real estate purchase agreement for one of the two development properties had terminated. The plaintiffs also moved to dismiss the defendants’ intentional misrepresentation counterclaim for failure to state the allegations of fraud with particularity. But after the motions were filed and before they were heard, the defendants filed an amended answer with leave of the court in which they denied that the real estate purchase agreement had been properly terminated and asserted more particularized facts in support of their misrepresentation counterclaim. Nonetheless, the trial court granted the plaintiffs’ motions, declared that the real estate purchase agreement had been terminated, and dismissed the misrepresentation counterclaim. The plaintiffs then filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment on the remaining counterclaim for breach of contract, along with a motion for judicial notice of several public records. The trial court granted the motion under Rule 12.02 and, in the alternative, Rule 56. The defendants appeal. We vacate the trial court’s ruling that the plaintiffs were entitled to judgment on the pleadings because the defendants denied that the real estate purchase agreement had been properly terminated. But we affirm the dismissal of the misrepresentation counterclaim because the defendants failed to allege facts to establish the elements of their claim. We also affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to continue because the record shows that the defendants were dilatory in prosecuting their contract claim. But we disagree with the court’s decision to take judicial notice of two newspaper articles, and we vacate the trial court’s ruling that the plaintiffs were entitled to dismissal of the contract counterclaim under Rule 12.02 and Rule 56. Thus, the decision of the trial court is vacated in part and affirmed in part, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Putnam Court of Appeals

In Re Nation F.
W2023-00510-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Whitworth

This is a termination of parental rights case. The trial court terminated Mother’s and
Father’s parental rights on the ground of severe child abuse, and on its finding that
termination was in the child’s best interest. The trial court also terminated Father’s rights
on the additional ground that he was sentenced to incarceration for more than ten years
when the child was under eight years of age. Mother and Father appeal. Discerning no
error, we affirm.

Carroll Court of Appeals

Roger Terrell v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00039-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

Petitioner, Roger Terrell, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, Petitioner contends he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison Court of Criminal Appeals

Kennath Artez Henderson v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00515-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Kennath Artez Henderson, appeals the Fayette County Circuit Court’s
summary denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis, challenging the sentence of
death that the trial court imposed after his guilty plea to the first degree premeditated
murder of a law enforcement officer. On appeal, the Petitioner claims that newly
discovered evidence of severe brain damage and serious mental illness at the time of the
offense may have resulted in a different judgment if presented at trial, that he was without
fault in failing to present the evidence at the proper time because trial counsel were
ineffective for failing to discover and present the evidence at sentencing, and that due
process requires tolling the statute of limitations. Based on our review of the oral
arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis
court.

Fayette Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Eric Pike
W2023-00351-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Trial Court Judge: Judge A. Blake Neill

The Lauderdale County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Eric Pike, on one count of attempted second degree murder, one count of aggravated assault by strangulation, and one count of violating an order of protection. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to the count of aggravated assault by strangulation, and the remaining counts were dismissed. Per the parties’ agreement, the trial court classified Defendant as a Range III persistent offender and imposed a ten-year sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve this sentence in custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) and consecutively to an existing sentence for initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine. Defendant then filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied. Defendant appeals, arguing: (1) the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by ordering Defendant to serve his sentence consecutively to his existing sentence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lauderdale Court of Criminal Appeals

G'Wayne Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00511-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell
Trial Court Judge: Judge A. Blake Neill

The Petitioner, G’wayne Williams, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s denial
of his post-conviction petition, seeking relief from his convictions for three counts of rape
of a child, a Class A felony; three counts of rape, a Class B felony; three counts of statutory
rape by an authority figure, a Class C felony; six counts of incest, a Class C felony; three
counts of aggravated statutory rape, a Class D felony; and two counts of violating the sex
offender registry, a Class E felony, and resulting effective sentence of sixty-four years in
confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to file a pretrial motion to sever the counts for violating the sex offender registry,
which prejudiced the jury, and for failing to make contemporaneous objections and
preserve objections to inadmissible evidence in his motion for new trial, which resulted in
waiver on direct appeal. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lauderdale Court of Criminal Appeals

Ronald P. Ellis v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00203-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

Ronald P. Ellis, Petitioner, sought post-conviction relief based on ineffective assistance of
counsel after this Court affirmed his first degree murder conviction. State v. Ellis, No.
W2017-01035-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 4584124, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 21, 2018).
The post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner appealed, arguing that trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to include proof in the motion to suppress his statement to authorities
about whether Petitioner was brought before a judge or magistrate before making his
statement and whether Petitioner’s cognitive abilities prevented him from adequately
waiving his rights. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the post-conviction
court’s findings and conclusions, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Robert Winters
E2023-00705-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda B. Dunn

Robert Winters, Defendant, appeals from the dismissal of a motion filed under Rule 36.1
of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. In the motion, he challenged his sentence
for aggravated robbery, stemming from State v. Winters, 137 S.W.3d 641 (Tenn. Crim.
App. 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 22, 2004). After a thorough review, we
determine that Defendant failed to state a colorable claim for relief, attempted to challenge
a sentence that was already expired, and raised claims that were previously determined.
Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton Court of Criminal Appeals

Craig Markeem Taylor v. Brandon Watwood, Warden
W2023-01169-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark L. Hayes

The Petitioner, Craig Markeem Taylor, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of
habeas corpus, arguing that the habeas corpus court erred by summarily dismissing the
petition without an evidentiary hearing or the appointment of counsel. Based on our
review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

Lake Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Matthew F. Beasley
M2023-00419-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

Defendant, Matthew F. Beasley, appeals the trial court’s order revoking his probationary sentence for aggravated assault and ordering him to serve the balance of his ten-year sentence in confinement. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no abuse of discretion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Macon Court of Criminal Appeals

Marvin L. Miller v. City of LaFollette et al.
E2023-00197-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth C. Asbury

The genesis of this case lies in the investigation into a city’s police department and subsequent termination of the appellant, a former police department employee. After the appellant was terminated, his counsel sent a public records request to the city, one of the appellees herein, pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act. Through this public records request, the city was asked for copies of, among other things, “investigative material” related to the appellant. Although some records were initially produced in response to the public records request, other records were not provided until after litigation was initiated by the appellant in chancery court. Certain “investigatory” records that had formerly been in the possession of an attorney hired by the city to investigate the police department were not ever produced. Although the parties dispute whether such “investigatory” records would be subject to disclosure under the Tennessee Public Records Act, such records had, according to the findings of the chancery court, been destroyed by the time the city received the public records request at issue herein. Upon the conclusion of the trial litigation, the chancery court also found that “all requested documents that exist had been provided” and determined that the city “did not willfully refuse to disclose documents and records.” In light of its determination that the city did not act willfully, the chancery court held that attorney’s fees would not be awarded in this case. For the reasons stated herein, the chancery court’s judgment is affirmed in part and vacated in part, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Campbell Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Charles Felix Bell, Jr.
M2023-00534-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Defendant, Charles Felix Bell, Jr., appeals the trial court’s order revoking his probationary sentence for possession of cocaine with intent to sell. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no abuse of discretion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

J.E. Allen Company, LLC v. Progress Construction Inc., ET AL.
W2022-00648-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

An owner and a contractor executed a standard form construction agreement. The contract
identified the “Contractor” as a corporation and two individuals. Only one of the individuals
signed the contract, but he did so as president of the corporation. After a dispute arose with
a supplier, the owner filed a third-party complaint against the individual who signed on
behalf of the corporation. The individual moved to dismiss and/or for judgment on the
pleadings, arguing that he was not a party to the contract. The court agreed and dismissed
the claims against him with prejudice. We reverse.

Shelby Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Joshua Steven Sullivan
E2022-00962-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Joshua Steven Sullivan, of two counts of
rape of a child, one count of attempted rape of a child, and one count of aggravated sexual
battery. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of forty-two years. The
Defendant argues that the trial court committed several evidentiary errors, including by
admitting evidence that (1) the victim made statements to her sister and best friend as
excited utterances; (2) he told officers they needed a warrant to enter the house and that he
was on his way to his attorney’s office; (3) he had prior convictions for purposes of
impeachment; and (4) he removed his GPS monitoring bracelet and left the jurisdiction
while on pretrial release. The Defendant also asserts that the trial court erred in instructing
the jury regarding flight and that the cumulative effect of these errors entitles him to a new
trial. Finally, he asserts that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences. Upon
review, we conclude that harmless errors exist in the admission of the Defendant’s
statements related to his purported exercise of constitutional rights. Otherwise, we
respectfully affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

Jim George Conaser v. State of Tennessee
M2023-00271-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Jim George Conaser, of aggravated assault, and the trial court sentenced him to serve a term of twelve years as a Range III, persistent offender. Thereafter, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to object to character evidence and hearsay. The post-conviction court denied the petition after a hearing. On our review, we respectfully affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

Kip Dylane Buie v. State of Tennessee
M2022-01232-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Petitioner, Kip Dylane Buie, pled guilty to second degree murder and attempted second degree murder. He received an effective forty-year sentence. Subsequently, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his plea counsel was ineffective during the plea process and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appealed to this Court. On our review, we respectfully affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lawrence Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Christopher Layne Spencer
E2022-01276-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

The Defendant, Christopher Layne Spencer, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and violating the sexual offender registration act, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-504 (2018) (aggravated sexual battery); 40-39-211(k) (2019) (sexual offender registry). The Defendant was sentenced to an effective fourteen years for the convictions. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for violating the sexual offender registry, (2) the trial court erred by admitting text messages as evidence, (3) the trial court erred by denying his request for a mistrial, (4) the trial court erred by limiting his closing argument, (5) the prosecutor engaged in improper closing argument, (6) the trial court erred with its jury instructions, and (7) the cumulative effect of the alleged errors entitles him to relief. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals