Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 06/19/2021
Format: 06/19/2021
Robert Jason Burdick v. State of Tennessee
M2020-00141-CCA-R3-PC

In this consolidated appeal, the Petitioner, Robert Jason Burdick, appeals the denial of his two post-conviction petitions and dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. With regard to his post-conviction petitions, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to challenge the trial court’s enhancement of his sentence and failure to file a motion to suppress the State’s warrantless attachment of a GPS tracking device to his vehicle. With regard to the petition for writ of error coram nobis, the Petitioner argues that the coram nobis court erred in summarily dismissing his petition and that he is entitled to due process tolling of the statute of limitations. After review, we affirm the judgments of the lower court.      

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/18/21
Nandigam Neurology, PLC Et Al. v. Kelly Beavers
M2020-00553-COA-R3-CV

This case arises from a defamation and false light lawsuit filed in the General Sessions Court for Wilson County (the “general sessions court”). The action was dismissed pursuant to the Tennessee Public Participation Act (the “TPPA”) and the plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the Circuit Court for Wilson County (the “circuit court”). After concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the appeal, the circuit court transferred the case to this Court. On appeal, the parties dispute whether this Court has subject matter jurisdiction, and the defendant argues that the ruling of the general sessions court should be affirmed. We conclude that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction to decide this appeal and, discerning no error, we affirm the decision of the general sessions court dismissing the plaintiffs’ legal action pursuant to the TPPA. 

Wilson County Court of Appeals 06/18/21
Wilmington Savings Fund Society Et Al. v. Estate of Sallie L. Miller
E2020-00717-COA-R3-CV

This is a detainer action concerning real property owned by the decedent and sold at a trustee’s sale. The trial court granted possession of the property to the purchaser. We now affirm the decision on appeal.

Knox County Court of Appeals 06/17/21
Sam B. Crenshaw v. Saad Kado et al..
E2020-00282-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a foreclosure sale of the plaintiff’s property. The defendants filed motions to dismiss the plaintiff’s action alleging, in part, that the action violated the statute of limitations. In response, the plaintiff alleged that his action was timely due to equitable estoppel. The Trial Court granted the defendants’ motions and dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims against the defendants. Taking the facts alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint as true, the plaintiff pled sufficient facts in his complaint to support a claim of equitable estoppel for purposes of the statute of limitations. Therefore, we hold that the Trial Court erred by granting the defendants’ motions to dismiss filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(6).

Knox County Court of Appeals 06/17/21
State of Tennessee v. Glenn Brown and Thomas Byrd
E2019-01618-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendants, Glenn Brown and Thomas Byrd, were jointly tried before a Knox County Criminal Court jury on a number of drug and gun-related offenses. At the conclusion of the trial, both Defendants were convicted of possession with the intent to sell/deliver 0.5 grams or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school, possession with the intent to sell/deliver a controlled substance analogue, and possession of marijuana. Defendant Brown was alone convicted of the various gun-related charges, including employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony having been previously convicted of a felony. In this consolidated appeal, Defendant Byrd challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his felony convictions and argues that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his failure to contest the forfeiture of the large amount of cash seized from him. Defendant Brown challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his felony drug and employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony convictions and argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the results of the traffic stop and in issuing inconsistent oral and written jury instructions that prevented unanimity of the verdicts. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/21
State of Tennessee v. Demetrie Darnell Owens
M2020-00132-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Demetrie Darnell Owens, was convicted by a Marshall County Circuit Court jury of two counts of simple possession of cocaine, Class A misdemeanors; possession of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school or park with intent to sell, a Class B felony; attempted possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, a Class C felony; two counts of simple possession of Xanax, Class A misdemeanors; two counts of simple possession of methamphetamine, Class A misdemeanors; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and simple possession of Suboxone, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to an effective term of twenty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing a State’s witness to testify concerning statements and text messages made by an unavailable witness; (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; (3) the trial court’s instruction that two individuals were accomplices as a matter of law amounted to a comment on the proof; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.   

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
State of Tennessee v. Javaris Wilson
M2019-01317-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Javaris Wilson, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and second degree murder under alternate theories of guilt for the same killing. The second degree murder conviction was merged into the first degree murder conviction, for which the Defendant received a life sentence. The sole issue the Defendant raises on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to establish his identity as the perpetrator. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
Steven Dare Steelman, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00696-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Steven Dare Steelman, Jr., appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order dismissing his petition for
post-conviction relief as untimely. The Petitioner’s counsel has filed a motion to withdraw pursuant to Rule 22 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. We conclude that counsel’s motion is well-taken and, in accordance with Rule 22(F), affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Williams
E2019-01995-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Joshua Williams, was convicted of two counts of especially aggravated burglary, four counts of attempted first degree murder, twelve counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, four counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm and was given a total effective sentence of sixty-eight years. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of attempted first degree murder. After thorough review, we disagree and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
Jeremy James Dalton v. Clerks Of Courts In Fentress County Et Al.
M2020-01658-COA-R3-CV

Appellant, acting pro se, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his writ of mandamus for failure to state a claim and to comply with procedural requirements. We do not reach the merits of the appeal due to Appellant’s failure to comply with the briefing requirements outlined in Rule 6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee and Rule 27 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Fentress County Court of Appeals 06/16/21
Carol Buckley v. The Elephant Sanctuary In Tennessee, Inc.
M2020-00804-COA-R10-CV

In this Rule 10 extraordinary appeal, the plaintiff seeks review of the trial court’s decision to grant a new trial on the basis of an improper comment made during closing arguments, despite the fact that a curative instruction was given. Having reviewed all of the grounds asserted in support of the motion for new trial, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the motion.

Lewis County Court of Appeals 06/16/21
Allan F. White Jr. Et Al. v. Bradley County Government Et Al.
E2020-00798-COA-R3-CV

A police officer pursued and shot a man whom she encountered outside her home at two in the morning. After the man died from his injuries, his parents and estate brought suit in the Bradley County Circuit Court against the officer, the sheriff who supervised her, and the county, alleging negligence and violation of the man’s rights under federal law and the United States Constitution. Defendants removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (“the district court”). The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on the federal civil rights claims and remanded the state law tort claims to the Circuit Court. On remand to the Circuit Court, the claims against the sheriff were voluntarily dismissed and the remaining defendants moved for summary judgment. In reliance on the district court’s legal conclusions, the Circuit Court granted summary judgment to the police officer based on the doctrine of collateral estoppel and to the Bradley County government based on governmental immunity. Plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, we hold that collateral estoppel bars the claims against both the police officer and the county. Accordingly, we affirm.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 06/15/21
John C. Helton v. Esther R. Helton
E2020-00599-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from the trial court’s judgment finding Husband in civil contempt for his failure to comply with certain monetary obligations under the parties’ final decree of divorce. In addition to finding Husband in contempt, the court entered a monetary judgment against Husband and awarded Wife attorney’s fees in connection with the proceedings. Husband argues that the trial court erred in finding him in civil contempt, contending that he does not have the present ability to pay. He does not object to any other aspect of the trial court’s order, including the judgment entered against him. For her part, Wife raises an issue regarding the amount of the trial court’s award of her attorney’s fees. We vacate the trial court’s finding Husband in civil contempt and remand for reconsideration of Husband’s ability to pay, and we further vacate the trial court’s award of Wife’s attorney’s fees and remand for reconsideration.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 06/15/21
State of Tennessee v. Blaze Valentino Burkett
M2019-02143-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Blaze Valentino Burkett, appeals as of right from the Wayne County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation and his being ordered to serve the remainder of his ten-year sentence for possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by fully revoking his probationary sentence and that an alternative to full incarceration should have been imposed to allow him to seek treatment for his methamphetamine addiction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
In Re Aayden C. Et Al.
E2020-01221-COA-R3-PT

In this termination of parental rights action, the mother has appealed the juvenile court’s final order terminating her parental rights to the minor children, Aayden C. and Patrick C. (“the Children”), based on three statutory grounds. On October 11, 2019, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition seeking to terminate the mother’s and the father’s parental rights to the Children. Following a bench trial, the juvenile court found that statutory grounds existed to terminate the parental rights of both parents upon its determination by clear and convincing evidence that the mother and the father (1) had abandoned the Children by failing to provide a suitable home; (2) were in substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans; and (3) had failed to manifest an ability and willingness to personally assume custody of or financial responsibility for the Children. The juvenile court further found by clear and convincing evidence that it was in the Children’s best interest to terminate the parental rights of both parents.1 The mother has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 06/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Donald McIntire
E2020-01483-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Joseph Donald McIntire, pled guilty to attempted introduction of contraband into a penal facility and, after a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of eight years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in enhancing his sentence to eight years and requiring that he serve the entirety of his sentence in confinement. Upon our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
Jeffery Combs v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00239-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Jeffery Combs, was found guilty by a jury of eighteen counts of forgery and one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, and he received a twelve-year sentence in confinement. After this court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions on direct appeal, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief contending that trial counsel was ineffective because trial counsel failed to: consult a handwriting expert and properly advise the Petitioner of the cost of retaining one; thoroughly investigate or pursue a misidentification defense by seeking professional assistance to enhance the surveillance video and interviewing witnesses; consult with the Petitioner prior to trial; and convey a plea offer. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. We affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
Kristin M. Myers v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01401-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Kristin M. Myers, appeals the denial of her post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding she received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition. 

Loudon County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21
State of Tennessee v. Jason Burchfield
E2020-01369-CCA-R3-CD

The trial court revoked the community corrections sentence of the defendant, Jason Burchfield, and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends that, while he did violate the terms and conditions of his alternative sentence, the trial court’s full revocation of his sentence was excessive and constituted an abuse of discretion. After a thorough review of the record, the applicable law, and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Anthony Perry
E2020-00911-CCA-R3-CD

A Johnson County jury convicted the defendant, Mathew Anthony Perry, of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and the trial court imposed a sentence of fifteen years’ confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range II offender, asserting the State’s notice of enhanced punishment was deficient. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in failing to grant a mistrial based upon alleged improper testimony. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand the matter for the sole purpose of ensuring that judgment forms were entered for each count of the indictment.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21
Gene Lovelace Enterprises, LLC Et Al. v. City of Knoxville Et Al.
E2019-01574-COA-R3-CV

This is the second appeal of this action concerning the enforceability of a licensing ordinance applicable to sexually oriented businesses in the City of Knoxville. The trial court found the ordinance lawful upon remand from this court and granted summary judgment in favor of the City. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 06/11/21
State of Tennessee v. James Michael Martin
E2020-00097-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, James Michael Martin, appeals his Greene County Criminal Court jury conviction of driving under the influence (“DUI”), arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motions to dismiss and suppress and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/21
State of Tennessee v. Douglas M. Ferguson
E2020-00400-CCA-R3-CD

The Sullivan County Grand Jury indicted Douglas M. Ferguson, Defendant, for attempted first degree premeditated murder in count one, aggravated assault in count two, and reckless endangerment in count three. Following a trial, the jury convicted Defendant of misdemeanor reckless endangerment in count one, aggravated assault in count two, and felony reckless endangerment in count three. The trial court merged counts one and three into count two, sentenced Defendant to five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction with a thirty percent release eligibility, and imposed a fine of $10,000. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying alternative sentencing and by ordering Defendant to pay an excessive fine. Upon a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/21
Frederick Jones Et Al. v. Reda Homebuilders, Inc.
M2020-00597-COA-R3-CV

Appellants purchased a home from Appellee home builder and later discovered numerous defects in the construction of the home. Appellants sued Appellee for breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligence, and the trial court entered judgment in favor of Appellants. Appellants appeal the trial court’s denial of their motion for attorney’s fees under the provisions of the parties’ contract. Appellee appeals the trial court’s award of damages as speculative. We affirm the trial court’s award of damages in favor of Appellants and reverse the trial court’s denial of Appellants’ motion for attorney’s fees.  

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 06/10/21
State of Tennessee v. Shanthony Mays
W2020-00201-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Shanthony Mays, filed a petition for post-conviction relief challenging his convictions for aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon and the resulting twelve-year sentence. The post-conviction court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges the following: (1) that he provided new evidence establishing an improper jury venire; (2) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to provide statistical information to show the systematic exclusion of African-Americans in the jury venire of Obion County; (3) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to properly examine the State’s witnesses regarding the admissibility of evidence and impeachment; (4) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to file a pretrial motion regarding the chain of custody for “tainted evidence”; and (5) that the post-conviction court should have given more weight to the co-defendant’s recantation of his trial testimony. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the Petitioner relief.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/21