Matthew Long v. Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension
E2022-01151-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi Davis
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jeffrey M. Atherton

Petitioner/Appellee Matthew Long (“Long”) applied for disability pension benefits due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) caused by various traumatic events he experienced during his time as a firefighter with the Chattanooga Fire Department (“CFD”). The Board of Trustees (the “Board”) for Respondent/Appellant Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund (the “Fund”) denied Long’s application. Long filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (the “trial court”) seeking a reversal of the Board’s decision. Finding that the Board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, the trial court reversed the denial of Long’s application. The trial court also denied a motion to alter or amend filed by the Fund. Following thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Shawn Rafael Bough
E2022-01788-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The petitioner, Shawn Rafael Bough, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s summary
denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of
Criminal Procedure 36.1. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Michael Lee Woods, Jr.
M2022-01168-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Michael Lee Woods, Jr., Defendant, was convicted by a jury of two counts of first degree murder, one count of felony murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and one count of possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony drug offense. The convictions stemmed from an incident that left two people dead and one person paralyzed. Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of two consecutive life sentences plus 10 years. Following the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant appealed, challenging: (1) the trial court’s decision to permit the State to introduce evidence of Defendant’s involvement in two unrelated shootings in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b); (2) the trial court’s decision to permit the State to introduce a video clip in which Defendant is seen brandishing a gun; (3) the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the convictions for first degree murder, felony murder and attempted first degree murder; and (4) his sentence. Defendant also alleges that cumulative errors during the trial entitle him to reversal of the convictions. Because trial counsel failed to object to the introduction of evidence about the two unrelated shootings as well as the video clip of Defendant brandishing a gun and Defendant failed to establish all five factors necessary for plain error review, he is not entitled to relief on those issues. Moreover, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed. However, we remand the matter to the trial court for correction of the judgment form in Count 5 to reflect that the sentence runs consecutively to Counts 1, 2, and 4.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. John Shaffighi
E2022-00525-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

A Knox County jury found the Defendant, John Shaffighi, guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery from events occurring in 1992. He was sentenced to an effective term of twenty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. He also asserts the trial court erred by (1) denying a motion to dismiss in light of missing evidence; (2) allowing the victim’s forensic interview to be played at trial; (3) denying his motion for a mistrial after testimony from the victim; (4) limiting the testimony of his expert witness; (5) instructing the jury on its deliberation during its deadlock; and (6) imposing the maximum sentence after misapplying enhancement factors and failing to apply mitigating factors. The State concedes that the Defendant was not sentenced properly under the pre-2005 sentencing statutes. Upon our review, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions but respectfully remand the case for resentencing in accordance with Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004).

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Roger Dean Guin
E2022-00391-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The defendant, Roger Dean Guin, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury
convictions of aggravated sexual battery, rape of a child, assault, rape, incest, and sexual
battery by an authority figure, arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motion to
suppress his statement and that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions.
Because the State’s elections in Counts 8, 9, and 10 were insufficient to protect the
defendant’s right to a unanimous jury verdict and to protect against violations of the
principles of double jeopardy, we vacate those convictions and remand for a new trial on
those counts. We also remand the case to the trial court for entry of corrected judgments
in Counts 3, 5, and 7 reflecting the merger of those convictions into Counts 2, 4, and 6
respectively and reflecting the proper misdemeanor classification and sentences. We
reverse the conviction in Count 1 and affirm the trial court’s judgments in all other respects.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

Laquitta Carpenter v. Jourdan Richardson
E2023-00208-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

This is an appeal from a default judgment originally entered by the General Sessions Court for Knox County (“general sessions court”) and then appealed to the Circuit Court for Knox County (“circuit court”). Because the defendant did not appear in the circuit court, the circuit court also entered a default judgment against the defendant. The defendant then appealed to this Court. However, because of deficiencies in the defendant’s brief, any issues purportedly raised are waived. We thus affirm the circuit court’s ruling.

Court of Appeals

Sylvia Cobbins v. Michael Feeney et al.
M2022-01357-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

This appeal involves claims to three disputed areas based on adverse possession and prescriptive easement. We affirm the trial court’s decision denying the plaintiff’s claims.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

In Re Conservatorship of Robert E. Hathaway
W2020-00687-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

Appellant attorney appeals the denial of his request for attorney’s fees to be paid from the
estate of a ward in a conservatorship proceeding. The trial court denied the request on the
bases that the legal services contract at issue did not provide for the payment of fees from
the estate, the ward lacked capacity to enter into a power of attorney giving the executor of
the contract authority to do so, and the applicant attorney was never appointed as attorney
ad litem for the ward. We affirm.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Karen Elizabeth Phillips Lowe v. Robert Melvin Lowe
E2023-00338-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Cook

This is a divorce action. Wife appeals the trial court’s division of property and debt and
asserts that the trial court erred by not classifying and awarding certain real property in
accordance with the parties’ stipulations. She also appeals the trial court’s denial of her
request for an extension of the order of protection issued against Husband and the
assignment of costs to her. We reverse the trial court’s interpretation of the parties’
stipulations regarding the classification of real property inherited by Wife. Because this
holding impacts the value of the parties’ separate property and the marital estate, we
remand for reconsideration of the division of marital assets. We affirm the trial court’s
equal division of marital debt and denial of Wife’s request for an extended protective order. We vacate the assignment of costs to Wife and remand the case to the trial court.

Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Robert W. Pitt, II
M2022-01730-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

This appeal concerns sentencing issues only. Defendant, Robert W. Pitt, II, pleaded guilty in the Sumner County Criminal Court to five counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, involving one victim. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to six years in confinement on each conviction and ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for an effective thirty-year sentence. Defendant argues on appeal that his sentences are excessive and that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering consecutive sentencing. We affirm.

Sumner Court of Criminal Appeals

Chris Etters, Et Al. v. Knox County, Tennessee, Et Al
E2022-01498-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John F. Weaver

In this interlocutory appeal, the defendant municipal board claimed that a document
attached to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint was protected by the attorney work product doctrine and therefore could not be relied upon or otherwise utilized by the plaintiffs. The defendant further urged that such protection had not been waived. The trial court disagreed, finding that although portions of the document were protected by the work product doctrine, such protection had been waived. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals

In Re Rylee L. et al.
M2023-00487-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brandon J. Cox

In the course of two separate dependency and neglect proceedings, a mother and father were found to have committed severe child abuse on their two children. In this termination proceeding, the trial court found that the grounds for termination of (1) severe child abuse, and (2) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to personally assume custody or financial responsibility of the children had been proven and that it was in the children’s best interest to terminate their parents’ parental rights. The parents appealed. We affirm.

Warren Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Wayne Stephens
E2023-00334-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Defendant, Jeremy Wayne Stephens, appeals his conviction for theft of property
valued at $1,000 or less. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence is
insufficient to sustain his conviction, (2) the Defendant was subjected to discriminatory
prosecution, and (3) the Defendant’s due process rights were violated because the
Defendant received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. We affirm the Defendant’s
conviction.

Hamblen Court of Criminal Appeals

William Craig v. Miranda McCabe
E2022-01571-COA -R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gregory S. McMillan

The appeal is dismissed because Appellant’s brief fails to comply with Tennessee Rule of
Appellate Procedure 27(a)(7)(A) and Tennessee Court of Appeals Rule 6(a). In addition, Appellant failed to provide a written transcript of the relevant proceedings despite our order requiring same. The absence of a transcript negates our ability to review the trial court’s substantive findings, and the failure to comply with the rules of briefing puts this Court in the position of having to create Appellant’s arguments, which we decline to do. Appeal dismissed.

Court of Appeals

Robert D. Murray v. State of Tennessee, Et Al.
E2022-01575-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge James E. Lauderback

Employee alleges that his termination from a county election commission was based on discrimination. His timely-filed federal case against the State of Tennessee was subsequently dismissed on Eleventh Amendment grounds. Twenty-one days after the federal case was dismissed and a total of almost three years after his termination, Employee refiled in state court, raising the same allegations of violations of the Tennessee Human Rights Act and the Tennessee Disability Act against the State. Relying on United States Supreme Court precedent that the federal savings statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1367(d), does not apply against a nonconsenting State defendant dismissed on Eleventh Amendment grounds, Raygor v. Regents of the University of Minnesota, 534 U.S. 533 (2002), we conclude that Employee’s state court complaint was untimely. We therefore affirm the grant of summary judgment on a different ground than that relied upon by the trial court.

Court of Appeals

William D. Crowder v. Tre Hargett et al.
M2023-00590-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

Appellant appeals the dismissal of his second lawsuit seeking damages and injunctive relief against four defendants allegedly associated with his criminal prosecution. The trial court dismissed the second lawsuit as barred by the doctrine of res judicata. We affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Carolyn M. Stark ET AL. v. William S. McLean ET AL.
W2023-00145-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tony Childress

In a prior appeal, we addressed multiple issues connected to a judgment that was entered
following a bench trial. Among other things, we affirmed the trial court’s determination
that one of the Defendants in this litigation should be held liable for breach of fiduciary
duty, but we also rejected multiple issues raised by the Plaintiffs in pursuit of additional
relief. As part of our disposition, we remanded the case for further proceedings with
respect to matters of costs and expenses under Tennessee Code Annotated section 35-15-
1004, as well as prejudgment interest. After the trial court entered orders on remand
addressing these issues, the Plaintiffs filed the present appeal, chiefly arguing (a) that they
are entitled to 100% of their costs and expenses and (b) that the trial court erred in the
amount of prejudgment interest it awarded them. Having reviewed the record transmitted
to us on appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer Court of Appeals

University Place S.E., LP v. R. Bosan a/k/a Rick Bosan
W2023-00790-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Yolanda Kight Brown

This case arises from a forcible entry and detainer proceeding. Because Appellant’s
principal brief fails to comply with Rule 27 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure
and Rule 6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, the appeal is dismissed.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Larry Kent et al. v. Global Vision Baptist, Inc. et al.
M2023-00267-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Caroline E. Knight

The Plaintiffs filed suit against a neighboring church and its pastor, alleging violations of local ordinances, as well as nuisance and trespass. The Defendants responded with a petition for dismissal under the Tennessee Public Participation Act (TPPA). After the trial court denied Plaintiffs’ attempt to voluntarily dismiss the pastor, the Defendants, in response to a statement by opposing counsel, filed a motion seeking an order of dismissal of the pastor with prejudice. The trial court denied that motion. Before the scheduled hearing on the TPPA petition could occur, the Defendants appealed the trial court’s denial of their motion for an order of dismissal as to the pastor, purportedly proceeding under Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-17-106, a provision of the TPPA that allows for an immediate appeal of a grant or denial of a TPPA petition. Because the order being appealed is not a dismissal or a refusal to dismiss a legal action pursuant to the Defendants’ TPPA petition, which is still pending before the trial court, we dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Wilson Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Guillermo Zapata
W2023-00111-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, Guillermo Zapata, was convicted in the Shelby County Criminal Court of
two counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. After a sentencing hearing, the
trial court merged the convictions and sentenced him to seven years, two months, and
twelve days in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is
insufficient to support the convictions, that the trial court erred by denying his motion to
dismiss the indictment based on due process and speedy trial grounds, and that the trial
court erred by instructing the jury on flight. Based upon our review, we affirm the
judgments of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Tracey Smith, et al. v. Oakwood Subdivision Homeowners Association, Inc.
W2022-00845-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd

This appeal involves premises liability and negligence claims asserted against a
homeowner’s association after a shooting outside its community clubhouse while it was
rented for a birthday party. The trial court granted summary judgment to the homeowner’s
association, dismissing all claims, on two grounds. First, the trial court found that there
was no foreseeability, and therefore, there was no duty. Second, the trial court concluded
that there was no nexus, or proximate cause, between the allegedly negligent acts or
omissions of the homeowner’s association and the harm that occurred. The plaintiffs filed
a motion to reconsider or clarify the ruling, which the trial court denied. For the following
reasons, we affirm the decision of the circuit court and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Jennifer Lynn Morgan Esposito v. Joseph Diego Esposito
E2022-01784-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth C. Asbury

In this divorce action, the trial court entered an order in December 2021, according to the parties’ announced agreement, granting the parties a divorce on stipulated grounds and directing, inter alia, that the marital residence would be sold at auction and that any “marital personal property” upon which the parties could not reach an agreement prior to the auction would be “sold by the court when the [marital residence was] auctioned.” The court also memorialized the parties’ agreement that each would keep the vehicles in his or her possession and be responsible for debts incurred in each of their respective names. In an order entered in April 2022, the court confirmed that the marital residence had been sold at auction to the husband. Following a bench trial, the court found that, with the exception of two personal items belonging to the wife, the marital residence and “the contents located at the property” were all marital property; that the proceeds from “marital property located at the home” were included in the auction sale proceeds; and that the proceeds from the auction should be divided equally between the parties. The wife has appealed. Upon careful consideration, we affirm the trial court’s findings that the marital personal property located at the marital residence had been sold with the marital residence and that the auction sale price reflected the total valuation of both the residence and personal property sold. We also affirm the trial court’s adoption of the parties’ agreement regarding vehicles and debts. However, we vacate the trial court’s classification of the marital residence as marital property and the court’s overall distribution of marital property. We remand for (1) further findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding classification of the marital residence and, if necessary, identification of any increase in value of the marital residence that resulted from the husband’s significant contributions during the marriage; (2) a limited evidentiary hearing to identify, classify, and value the parties’ bank accounts; and (3) reconsideration of the marital property distribution inclusive of the findings on remand and pursuant to the statutory factors provided in Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-4-121(c) (2021). Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed in Part, Vacated in Part; Case Remanded.

Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Dantis Lakka-Lako
M2023-00080-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer L. Smith

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Dantis Lakka-Lako, of one count of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated rape, one count of especially aggravated burglary, and two counts of theft of property. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of fifty years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress his confession. He additionally contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for especially aggravated robbery and aggravated rape, and that the trial court erred when it sentenced him. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

Arthur A. Allen v. Heather S. Allen
E2023-01660-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne S. Cook

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B, filed by
Arthur A. Allen (“Father”), seeking to recuse the trial judge in this case. Having reviewed
the petition for recusal appeal filed by Father, and finding no error, we affirm.
Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B Interlocutory Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the
Chancery Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

Court of Appeals

Henry Moore v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00798-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Hayes

The pro se petitioner, Henry Moore, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction
or habeas corpus relief, which petition challenged his guilty-pleaded conviction of evading
arrest, alleging that the stop and seizure of his vehicle was unlawful, that his guilty plea
was involuntary, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and that he
was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Because the petitioner’s claims are not
cognizable in a habeas corpus proceeding, the trial court properly denied habeas corpus
relief. Because, however, some of the petitioner’s claims are cognizable in post-conviction
proceedings and because the petition was not untimely, the trial court erred by summarily
dismissing the petition as one for post-conviction relief. We reverse the judgment of the
trial court and remand the case for further post-conviction proceedings.

Dyer Court of Criminal Appeals