APPELLATE COURT OPINIONS

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Thomas Kaminski v. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

M2024-00291-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a final order affirming the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s denial of a request for termination of registration on the Sex Offender Registry. Because the appellant did not file his notice of appeal with the clerk of the appellate court within thirty days after entry of the final judgment as required by Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a), we dismiss the appeal.

Authoring Judge: PER CURIAM
Originating Judge:Chancellor I’Ashea L. Myles
Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/01/24
State of Tennessee v. Michael Clarence Craft, Jackie Dewayne Davis, and Zachary Stuart Tablack

M2022-01720-CCA-R3-CD

Michael Craft, Jackie Dewayne Davis, and Zachary Stuart Tablack, collectively “Defendants,” pled guilty as Range I offenders to two counts of voluntary manslaughter with the issue of judicial diversion and, alternatively, the length and manner of service of their sentences, to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the court sentenced each Defendant to concurrent terms of six years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendants Davis and Tablack claim that the trial court erred by denying judicial diversion, by denying probation, and by sentencing them to the maximum sentence. Defendant Craft claims that the court erred by imposing the maximum sentence. Discerning no reversible error, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Originating Judge:Judge Robert T. Bateman
Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/24
Staci L. Robinson v. Eric S. Robinson

E2023-00546-COA-R3-CV

Husband moved for relief from a final decree of divorce under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02(2). He claimed that his former spouse intentionally misrepresented her income and assets during the divorce proceedings. The trial court denied the motion. We affirm.

Authoring Judge: Judge W .Neal McBrayer
Originating Judge:Chancellor Douglas T. Jenkins
Hawkins County Court of Appeals 03/01/24
Raymond T. Throckmorton, III, et al. v. Steven L. Lefkovitz, et al.

M2022-01124-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff attorneys filed this action alleging tortious interference with a business relationship and unlawful procurement of breach of contract, Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-50-109, against the defendant attorney and his law firm for his defense of their former clients in an action to recover fees. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant attorney and the law firm. We affirm.

Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Originating Judge:Chancellor Anne C. Martin
Davidson County Court of Appeals 02/29/24
In Re S.C., et al.

W2022-01709-COA-R3-JV

Mother appeals the trial court’s finding that her children were dependent and neglected.
We affirm.

Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Originating Judge:Judge A. Blake Neill
Tipton County Court of Appeals 02/29/24
In Re Estate of Thomas Lee Griffin

W2023-00508-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a petition for declaratory judgment concerning a quit claim deed.
By the quit claim deed, the grantor, now deceased, conveyed to the respondent an
undivided one-half interest in the property. Following the property description and
derivation clause, the deed expressly provided that it was the intention of the grantor and
the grantee to create a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. The respondent filed a
motion for summary judgment, asserting that the survivorship language in the deed was
sufficient to create a right of survivorship in the respondent. The trial court entered an
order denying the respondent’s motion for summary judgment and granting the petition for
declaratory judgment in favor of the petitioner. The respondent appealed. We reverse.

Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Originating Judge:Judge Joe Townsend
Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/29/24
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Lynn Wilkes

W2023-00619-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jeffrey Lynn Wilkes, pled guilty in the Dyer County Circuit Court to
burglary, a Class D felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple
offender to five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, to be served
consecutively to his prior Tennessee sentences and to his sentence in a pending Florida
case. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying a sentence of
split confinement that would have enabled the Defendant to enter a rehabilitative program
to treat his drug addiction. Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Originating Judge:Judge Mark L. Hayes
Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/24
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Smith

W2023-00482-CCA-R3-CD

After a Shelby County jury trial, Defendant, Matthew Smith, was convicted of aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, robbery, and theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000. The trial court sentenced him to an effective term of thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). On appeal, Defendant argues the evidence produced at trial was insufficient to sustain his convictions and that his dual convictions for robbery and theft violate his protections against double jeopardy. We conclude the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s convictions, but we also conclude the trial court should have merged Defendant’s convictions for robbery and theft. We, therefore, remand the case to the trial court to merge the appropriate counts but affirm the judgments of the trial court in all other respects.

Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Originating Judge:Judge Chris Craft
Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/24
In Re Daxleigh F. Et Al.

E2023-00749-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case. Appellant/Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights on the grounds of: (1) abandonment by failure to support; (2) persistence of the conditions that led to the children’s removal; and (3) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of or financial responsibility for the children. The trial court also determined that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interests. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Originating Judge:Judge Sharon M. Green
Washington County Court of Appeals 02/29/24
Essy Kazemi et al. v. Hamid Arab

M2022-00707-COA-R3-CV

The Defendant signed a promissory note and borrowed $500,000 from the Plaintiffs, with the loan secured by his home. Months later, the parties entered into a note modification agreement that increased the principal to $900,000. The Defendant did not pay back the loan, making no payments, so the Plaintiffs sued to recover under the agreements. Over two years after the original answer was filed, the Defendant moved to amend his answer to add several affirmative defenses. The trial court denied the motion to amend. After a trial, the trial court found that the Defendant owed the Plaintiffs $843,011.47. The Defendant appeals the denial of his motion to amend and raises multiple other issues primarily relating to the amount owed. We find no error and affirm the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Originating Judge:Judge Deanna B. Johnson
Williamson County Court of Appeals 02/29/24
State of Tennessee v. Leroy Moreno

W2023-00316-CCA-R3-CD

The Fayette County Circuit Court sentenced the Defendant, Leroy Moreno, as a Range I
offender to nine years at thirty percent in the Tennessee Department of Correction
following his guilty-pleaded conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver
between one-half gram and twenty-six grams. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the
trial court abused its discretion by sentencing the Defendant above the minimum sentence
in his range and by denying him probation. Regarding the length of his sentence, the
Defendant specifically contends that the trial court had no basis to deviate from the
minimum sentence due to the Defendant’s minimal criminal history and the enhancement
and mitigating factors’ offsetting each other. He further argues that the trial court erred by
failing to consider the statistical information provided by the Administrative Office of the
Courts (“AOC”) regarding sentencing practices for similar offenses in Tennessee. Relative
to the trial court’s denial of probation, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by
denying probation when he accepted responsibility for his conduct and had no previous
probation violations. Additionally, he contends that the trial court erred by denying
probation because basing its denial on the need for deterrence and the seriousness of the
offense was not supported by the record. Following our review, we affirm the judgment
of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson
Originating Judge:Judge J. Weber McCraw
Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/24
State of Tennessee v. Darrius Levon Robinson

E2023-00391-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Darrius Levon Robinson, appeals from his guilty-pleaded conviction for attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-210 (2018)(second degree murder); 39-12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt). The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve the agreed upon eight-year, Range I sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends the court erred by denying alternative sentencing and
abused its discretion by failing to consider appropriate sentencing factors. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Originating Judge:Judge Boyd M. Patterson
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/24
In Re Nevaeh K.

E2023-01106-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case. Both parents appeal the trial court’s determination of the existence of statutory grounds to terminate their rights, as well as its conclusion that termination is in their child’s best interests. The father also challenges whether the trial court erred in denying his motion for in-person attendance at trial. Upon our review of the record, we affirm.

Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Originating Judge:Judge Mark Toohey
Sullivan County Court of Appeals 02/28/24
In Re Ember H. Et Al.

E2023-00687-COA-R3-PT

This appeal concerns termination of parental rights. Maternal grandparents Chaunta C. (“Grandmother”) and Thomas C. (“Petitioners,” collectively) filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Knox County (“the Juvenile Court”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Bethany U. (“Mother”) to her minor children Ember H. and Erowynn H. (“the Children,”collectively). After a hearing, the Juvenile Court entered an order terminating Mother’s parental rights on grounds of abandonment by failure to visit, abandonment by failure to support, failure to manifest, and persistent conditions. Mother appeals, arguing among other things that Petitioners prevented her from visiting the Children. We vacate the ground of persistent conditions. However, we find, as did the Juvenile Court, that the three other grounds were proven by clear and convincing evidence. We find further by clear and convincing evidence, as did the Juvenile Court, that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the Children’s best interest. We thus affirm as modified, resulting in affirmance of the termination of Mother’s parental rights to the Children.

Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Originating Judge:Judge Timothy E. Irwin
Knox County Court of Appeals 02/28/24
Stoneybrooke Investors LLC v. Agness McCurry

E2024-00253-COA-T10B-CV

This matter involves an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, from the Washington County Circuit Court’s denial of a motion to recuse filed by the appellant. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal and other filings submitted by the appellant, we determine that the appellant failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of Rule 10B. We therefore affirm the trial court’s ruling.

Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson
Originating Judge:Senior Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Washington County Court of Appeals 02/28/24
State of Tennessee v. Gemeyal Strowder

W2023-00936-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Gemeyal Strowder, entered an open plea to aggravated robbery, and the
trial court imposed a sentence of eighteen years’ incarceration in the Tennessee Department
of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court failed to consider applicable
mitigating factors. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we
affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Originating Judge:Judge J. Weber McCraw
McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/24
State of Tennessee v. Uel Pearson

W2023-00254-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Uel Pearson, was convicted by a Gibson County jury of first-degree murder,
attempted first-degree murder, and employing a firearm during the commission of a
dangerous felony after having been previously convicted of a dangerous felony for which
he received an effective term of life imprisonment plus thirty years. On appeal, the
defendant argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) the trial
court erred in excluding the recorded interviews of two witnesses; and (3) the trial court
erred in denying his motion for new trial based on juror misconduct. After reviewing the
record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Originating Judge:Judge Clayburn Peeples
Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/24
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Neil Mathis, Jr.

W2022-01588-CCA-R3-CD

A Madison County jury found Defendant, Bobby Neil Mathis, Jr., guilty as charged of one count of rape of a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child. The trial court merged the two counts and sentenced Defendant to thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues he is entitled to a new trial because the State failed to elect offenses for the two counts presented to the jury, the trial court erred in failing to issue a modified unanimity instruction, and the evidence was insufficient to sustain the jury’s verdicts. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Originating Judge:Judge Donald H. Allen
Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/24
State of Tennessee v. Rashard Fair

W2023-00234-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Rashard Fair, pled guilty in the Shelby County Criminal Court to voluntary
manslaughter and received a three-year sentence to be served as one year in confinement
followed by two years on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court
erred by denying his requests for judicial diversion and full probation and that the trial
court should have disqualified itself because the trial court’s impartiality might reasonably
be questioned. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we
conclude that the trial court erred by failing to address fully on the record its reasons for
denying judicial diversion and full probation. We also conclude that the trial court’s
statements during the sentencing hearing, particularly the trial court’s comments about
judicial diversion for the crime of voluntary manslaughter and the trial court’s decision to
increase the Defendant’s sentence of confinement in response to defense counsel’s request
for bond pending appeal, call into question the trial court’s impartiality in this case.
Accordingly, we reverse and vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for
a new sentencing hearing, at which another judge shall preside, to determine the length and
manner of service of the Defendant’s sentence.

Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Originating Judge:Judge Paula L. Skahan
Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/24
State of Tennessee v Gavin Quaedlieg

E2023-00542-CCA-R3-CD

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Gavin Quaedvlieg, of rape. The Defendant appeals, contending that the prosecutor impermissibly commented upon his silence at trial during the State's rebuttal closing argument and that the trial court erred in denying his motion for new trial on this issue. The State argues that the Defendant has waived plenary review of this issue and that he is not entitled to plain error relief. In his reply brief, the Defendant counters that he has not waived plenary review and that, in any event, he is entitled to plain error relief. We conclude that the Defendant has waived plenary review and that he is not entitled to plain error relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Authoring Judge: Kyle A. Hixson
Originating Judge:Steven W. Sword, Judge
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/24
State of Tennessee v. Darunn Turner

W2022-01389-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant appeals his convictions of voluntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment
with a deadly weapon, and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon for which he
received an effective sentence of twenty-seven years’ confinement. On appeal, the
Appellant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; and (2)
the trial court abused its discretion by imposing the maximum within-range sentences and
ordering that they be served consecutively. Though he also challenges the trial court’s
failure to include reckless homicide as a lesser included offense of first degree murder and
the allegedly inconsistent verdicts, he has waived these issues by failing to file a motion
for new trial. After review of the preserved issues, we affirm the judgments of the trial
court.

Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Originating Judge:Judge James M. Lammey
Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/24
State of Tennessee v. Darunn Turner - Concur

W2022-01389-CCA-R3-CD

I agree with the majority that the trial court properly imposed maximum,
consecutive sentences. I write separately to explain why, in contrast to the analysis
undertaken in the lead opinion, my analysis does not deprive the trial court of the
presumption of reasonableness based upon the court’s having considered the facts of the
crimes and having observed that they demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence
that the Defendant’s culpability exceeded that required for the verdicts returned by the jury.
The majority characterizes the court’s comments as a “strong reliance on [the court’s]
personal disagreement with the jury’s verdict.”

Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Originating Judge:Judge James M. Lammey
Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/24
State of Tennessee v. Antwain Tapaige Sales

M2023-00948-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se petitioner, Antwain Tapaige Sales, appeals the Bedford County Circuit Court’s order dismissing his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Originating Judge:Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.
Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/24
In Re Chance B. et al.

M2023-00279-COA-R3-PT

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights and the stepparent adoption of her two children by their stepmother. The trial court found three grounds for termination: abandonment by failure to visit, abandonment by failure to support, and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody. The trial court also concluded that terminating Mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interest. The termination was conjoined with a stepparent adoption, which the trial court granted. The Mother appeals. We affirm the judgment of the trial court terminating Mother’s parental rights and granting the stepparent adoption.

Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Originating Judge:Chancellor Ben Dean
Montgomery County Court of Appeals 02/26/24
State of Tennessee v. Shaun Dewayne Patton

M2023-00778-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Shaun Dewayne Patton, appeals his Robertson County Circuit Court conviction of evading arrest, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Originating Judge:Judge Robert Bateman
Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/24