Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/17/2021
Format: 04/17/2021
State of Tennessee v. Crystal Renae McCroskey
E2019-02293-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant-Appellant, Crystal Renae McCroskey, was indicted by a Knox County grand jury for one count of especially aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of domestic assault in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-13-305, 39-13-304, 39-13-102, and 39-13-111. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant pled guilty to one count of aggravated assault as a Range II, Multiple Offender for an agreed sentence of eight years, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. As part of the agreement, the State dismissed the five remaining counts. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant’s sentence to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her an alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
State of Tennessee v. James Andrew Weidekamp
M2020-00736-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, James Andrew Weidekamp, appeals the summary denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that due process considerations should toll the statute of limitations. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition as time-barred.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
State of Tennessee v. William Henry Smith, Jr.
M2020-00125-CCA-R3-CD

Petitioner, William Henry Smith Jr., was convicted of conspiracy to sell and deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine and received a fifteen-year sentence of imprisonment. The Petitioner filed a Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, which was summarily dismissed by the trial court. Petitioner raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether Petitioner’s allegation that he was erroneously classified as a career offender fails to state a colorable claim that his sentence is illegal; and (2) whether Petitioner’s right to due process of law was violated by the imposition of a sentence longer than what is required for a persistent offender. Upon review, we affirm the summary dismissal by the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
State of Tennessee v. Johnvya T. Smith
E2020-00409-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Johnvya T. Smith, appeals from the trial court’s judgment granting him partial relief based on his 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that the trial court should have allowed him to withdraw the guilty plea that resulted in the illegal sentence rather than merely amending the sentence. The State disagrees, arguing that the trial court appropriately denied the Defendant’s request to withdraw his guilty plea because the illegal aspect of his sentence was not a material component of the Defendant’s plea agreement. We agree with the State. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
Grandon P. Day v. Kevin Genovese
M2020-00373-CCA-R3-HC

In a procedurally complex case, the Petitioner, Grandon P. Day, pleaded guilty in Davidson County Criminal Court in July 2004 to two sets of offenses that occurred on April 3, 2003, and July 9, 2003. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to a total effective sentence of sixteen years of incarceration for these offenses. In December 2005, a Williamson County Circuit Court jury convicted the Petitioner of twenty additional offenses, all of which occurred in July 2003. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to a total effective sentence of 84 years of incarceration, to be served consecutively to his other offenses. Fourteen years later, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, in which he alleged that the trial court erred when it ordered that his sentences run concurrently when consecutive sentences were statutorily required. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and we affirm its judgment.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
David Sanders v. State of Tennesse
M2020-00457-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, David Sanders, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his conviction of rape, for which he received a ten-year sentence of imprisonment. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-503. In his appeal, the Petitioner argues that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered based on the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
State of Tennessee v. McKinnley McGee
E2020-00015-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant-Appellant, McKinnley McGee, was indicted by an Anderson County grand jury of attempted second degree murder in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39- 13-210 and 39-12-101, a Class B felony, and two counts of aggravated assault in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-102, a Class C felony. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, Multiple Offender to an effective sentence of twenty-years’ imprisonment. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence was sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction for attempted second degree murder. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Hurt
E2020-00236-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Joshua Hurt, was convicted by a Knox County jury of attempted voluntary manslaughter (Count 1), in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39- 13-211, as a lesser included offense of attempted first-degree murder, employment of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony (Count 2), possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony (Count 3), in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery (Counts 4 and 5), in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-403. The trial court merged Counts 4 and 5 and sentenced the Defendant to seventeen years’ imprisonment for these counts, merged Count 3 into Count 1 and sentenced the Defendant to four years’ imprisonment for these counts to run concurrently to Count 4, and six years’ imprisonment for Count 2 to run consecutively to Count 1, for a total effective sentence of seventeen years’ imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the Defendant’s convictions for especially aggravated robbery, and (2) whether the trial court erred in (a) not giving the appropriate definition of serious bodily injury and (b) instructing the jury on flight. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
State of Tennessee v. Victor Valle
W2019-01767-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the Defendant, Victor Valle, of rape of a child, and he received a sentence of twenty-two years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court’s ruling admitting the victim’s testimony that the Defendant had abused her outside of the time period specified in the indictment. We conclude that the evidence is sufficient and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of prior bad acts, and we affirm the judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/21
State of Tennessee v. Jamauri Ransom
W2019-02310-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jamauri Ransom, was convicted by a jury of aggravated robbery and first-degree felony murder, and he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his felony murder conviction, asserting that this court should apply to the present case our supreme court’s rejection of the “continuous offense theory” for robbery as discussed in State v. Owens, 20 S.W.3d 634 (Tenn. 2000); that the aggravated robbery and felony murder were separated by intervening circumstances; and that the State failed to negate his theory of self-defense. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/21
Erin R. Knight v. Tennessee State Board Of Education
M2020-00770-COA-R3-CV

A public school teacher, who allegedly tested positive for alcohol on school premises during school hours, was threatened with revocation of her teaching license by the state board of education. The teacher petitioned the board for declaratory judgment, arguing that the board lacked the authority to promulgate the rule on which the threatened action was based. After a hearing, the administrative law judge concluded that the board did have the power to revoke a teacher’s license for misconduct, and the board subsequently adopted the administrative law judge’s order. The teacher then appealed to the chancery court, as permitted under the UAPA, and the chancery court affirmed the board’s findings. The teacher now appeals the chancery court’s order. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/08/21
Nesreen Boutros v. Amazon.Com DEDC, LLC Et Al.
M2020-00455-SC-R3-WC

Nesreen Boutros (“Employee”) suffered a work-related injury to her right arm and neck while working for her employer, Amazon.com DEDC, LLC (“Employer”), on April 23, 2015. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (the “trial court”) held Employee suffered a compensable injury and was entitled to lifetime medical benefits and temporary total disability (“TTD”) benefits, but suffered no permanent impairment. Employer appealed the award of TTD benefits and additional medical benefits, and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the “Appeals Board”) affirmed. Employer appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for consideration and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. After careful consideration, we affirm the decision of the Appeals Board and adopt its well-reasoned opinion in its entirety as set forth in the attached Appendix.  

Workers Compensation Panel 04/08/21
Watauga Falls Development v. Rivers End Subdivision P.O.A. et al.
E2021-00269-COA-R3-CV

The appellee, Watauga Falls Development (“Watauga”), filed a motion to dismiss this appeal alleging that the dismissal of a prior appeal of this case bars the instant appeal. Because the previous appeal was taken from the same judgment as the instant appeal and the dismissal of the previous appeal was with prejudice, this appeal must be dismissed.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 04/08/21
In Re Greyson D. Et Al.
E2020-00988-COA-R3-PT

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights on the grounds of severe abuse and failure to manifest a willingness and ability to assume custody and on the determination that termination is in the best interests of her children. Upon our review, we discern no error and affirm the termination.

Roane County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
State of Tennessee v. Erick Eugene Jones, Jr.
E2019-01737-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Erick Eugene Jones, Jr., was convicted by a Greene County Criminal Court jury of two counts each of facilitation of felony murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, facilitation of felony murder in the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, Class B felonies; aggravated child neglect, a Class A felony; one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony; and one count of facilitation of aggravated assault, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-11-403 (2018) (facilitation of a felony); 39-13-102 (2014) (subsequently amended) (aggravated assault); 39-13-202 (2018) (felony murder); 39-15- 402 (2014) (subsequently amended) (aggravated child abuse and child neglect). He received an effective sentence of fifty years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence does not support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred by allowing autopsy photographs of the victims into evidence, and (3) the trial court erred by sentencing the Defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions related to the victim T.T.1 for facilitation of felony murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, facilitation of aggravated assault, and aggravated child neglect. We reverse the Defendant’s convictions related to K.E. for facilitation of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, facilitation of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, aggravated assault, and aggravated child neglect. We reverse the Defendant’s conviction related to the victim T.T. for facilitation of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/21
Alice Faye Powers v. Stephen Edwin Powers
M2019-01512-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a contested divorce involving one minor child. The father appeals the trial court’s decision to name the mother as the primary residential parent and its decision to grant the father less than equal parenting time. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the trial court’s decisions and remand.

Humphreys County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
Ernest B. Williams IV, PLLC Et Al. v. The Association Of Unit Owners Of The Five Hundred And One Union Building Et Al.
M2019-02114-COA-R3-CV

This case concerns the termination of a condominium building. At the center of the dispute on appeal is a disagreement over whether the ordered distribution of the proceeds from the sale of the condominium real estate was proper. The Appellant, who was a unit owner in the condominium, takes specific issue with the trial court’s use of a certain appraisal as the basis for a distribution of sale proceeds. The trial court ruled against the Appellant on this issue, holding that the subject appraisal became final because it had not been timely disapproved by unit owners representing at least 25% of the votes in the unit owners’ association as provided in Tennessee Code Annotated section 66-27-318 of the Tennessee Condominium Act of 2008. In holding that the proposed allocation from the appraisal should be used, the trial court also ordered that the Appellant pay certain attorney’s fees and discretionary costs. A request for prejudgment interest against the Appellant, however, was ultimately denied. On appeal, we affirm the trial court’s judgment in all respects.   

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
A.W. v. M.N.
W2020-00091-COA-R3-JV

This case involves a petition to modify a father’s parenting time. The mother filed the petition against the father, alleging that the father sexually abused their minor child during an unsupervised visitation. After a two-day hearing, the trial court denied the mother’s petition, finding that there was insufficient evidence to show that the father sexually abused the minor child. The mother appealed. We affirm the trial court’s decision and remand.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
Anthony D. Herron, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00595-COA-R3-CV

This case involves a breach of contract claim brought against the Tennessee Department of Human Services pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(a)(1)(L). The defendant moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, claiming the parties never entered into a written agreement. The Tennessee Claims Commission granted the motion and dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm the Commission’s decision and remand.

Court of Appeals 04/07/21
In Re Estate Of B. Ray Thompson, Jr.
E2019-01364-COA-R3-CV

This consolidated appeal arises from a dispute among various children and grandchildren of B. Ray Thompson, Jr. (“B. Ray Jr.”) and Juanne Jennings Thompson (“Juanne” or together, “Decedents”),1 over the estates of both B. Ray Jr. and Juanne. When three of the Decedents’ children obtained a court order sealing the records for both estates, a different faction of the family filed petitions to intervene in the estate actions and to unseal the records. The Chancery Court for Knox County (the “trial court”) denied the petitions for intervention and left several documents under seal. This appeal followed. We hold that the trial court abused its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/06/21
In Re Estate of Juanne Jennings Thompson
E2019-01365-COA-R3-CV

This consolidated appeal arises from a dispute among various children and grandchildren of B. Ray Thompson, Jr. (“B. Ray Jr.”) and Juanne Jennings Thompson (“Juanne” or together, “Decedents”),1 over the estates of both B. Ray Jr. and Juanne. When three of the Decedents’ children obtained a court order sealing the records for both estates, a different faction of the family filed petitions to intervene in the estate actions and to unseal the records. The Chancery Court for Knox County (the “trial court”) denied the petitions for intervention and left several documents under seal. This appeal followed. We hold that the trial court abused its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/06/21
State of Tennessee v. Quantavious Williams
E2019-02266-CCA-R3-CD

A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Quantavious Williams, of first degree murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, carjacking, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, aggravated robbery, and aggravated kidnapping. In this appeal, the defendant challenges those convictions on grounds that the trial court erred by excluding expert testimony regarding the defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged offenses and that the evidence was insufficient to establish his guilt. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/21
Brenda Naldrett Johnson v. Gary Lee Johnson
E2020-00875-COA-R3-CV

This case involves an intra-family dispute over a parcel of real property. Because of the profound deficiencies with Appellant’s brief, we decline to reach the merits of this appeal and instead find that Appellant has waived his argument. Thus, we affirm the judgment of the trial court and award Appellee damages, including attorney’s fees incurred on appeal, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 27-1-122.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 04/06/21
Larry Michael Berkley v. State of Tennessee
W2019-02215-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Larry Michael Berkley, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his multiple convictions of rape, aggravated statutory rape, sexual battery by an authority figure, and statutory rape by an authority figure, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/21
In Re Estate of Hattie Faye Baker
W2020-00460-COA-R3-CV

The petitioner claims an interest in the estate of the second wife of her uncle, who was originally married to the petitioner’s aunt. Because the property at issue was held by the petitioner’s aunt and uncle as a tenancy by the entireties, the uncle owned the property in fee simple upon the aunt’s death. We conclude that the petitioner’s claim is without merit, and we affirm the decision of the trial court.

McNairy County Court of Appeals 04/06/21