Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/04/2021
Format: 12/04/2021
State of Tennessee v. Stephen C. Wallick
M2020-01121-CCA-R3-CD

A Dickson County jury convicted the defendant, Stephen C. Wallick, for the Class B felony of theft of property valued over $60,000 but less than $250,000.  The trial court imposed a sentence of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, suspended to supervised probation, and ordered the defendant pay $60,000 in restitution.  The defendant filed this timely appeal, challenging the evidence supporting his conviction.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/08/21
Windie L. Perry v. State of Tennessee
M2019-02074-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Windie L. Perry, appeals from the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions for two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated child abuse, one count of facilitation of rape of a child, two counts of false imprisonment, and six counts of reckless endangerment and her effective twenty-year sentence.  On appeal the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying relief on her ineffective assistance of counsel claims.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/08/21
State of Tennessee v. Christopher D. Todd
M2020-01669-CCA-R3-CD

Following a bench trial, the defendant, Christopher D. Todd, was convicted by the Robertson County Circuit Court with possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and he was sentenced to an effective term of eighteen months’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress challenging the legality of the initial stop of his vehicle. Upon our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/08/21
Tommy Taylor v. Johnny Fitz, Warden
W2020-01294-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Tommy Taylor, appeals as of right from the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he contended that his thirteen-year sentence was illegal and that his guilty plea was void because the affidavit of complaint and arrest warrant were not signed by a magistrate or a neutral and detached court clerk. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that summary dismissal was improper and that the petition stated a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/08/21
Bobby Scott Smith v. Barbara Diane (Fuston) Smith
M2019-01834-COA-R3-CV

A husband and wife sought to end their long-term marriage. After a prolonged trial, the court classified, valued, and equitably divided the marital estate. The court also ordered both parties to pay their own attorney’s fees. The wife filed a motion to alter or amend the final decree. Acknowledging errors in the initial decree, the court issued an amended divorce decree. Among other things, the court amended the value of the marital residence. Both parties raise issues on appeal. We find the evidence does not preponderate against the court’s classification of the husband’s interest in several parcels of real property as marital property. We also conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in amending the value of the marital residence, dividing the marital estate, or declining to award attorney’s fees to the wife. So we affirm.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 09/07/21
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Dean Givens
M2020-01431-CCA-R3-CD

Following the denial of a suppression motion, the defendant, Frederick Dean Givens, pled guilty to possession of more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. As a condition of his plea agreement, the defendant reserved the right to appeal two certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A). Upon our review, we conclude the issues are not dispositive of the defendant’s case, and the appeal is dismissed. Additionally, we remand the case for entry of judgment forms in counts 3 and 4. 

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/07/21
State of Tennessee v. Paul D. Page
M2020-01096-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Paul D. Page, pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of 0.5 grams or less of methamphetamine, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of nine years’ incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in denying his request to serve his sentence on probation. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. 

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/07/21
James Morrow v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01488-CCA-R3-PC

In 1998, the Petitioner, James Morrow, was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, and we affirmed the judgments. State v. James Morrow, No. W1998-0583-CCA-R3-CD, 1999 WL 1529719 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 29, 1999), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 26, 2000). Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court dismissed after multiple hearings. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/07/21
Errol Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2020-00184-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Errol Johnson, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his convictions for aggravated child neglect and criminally negligent homicide. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that he was denied the right to represent himself at trial and that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel because counsel failed to advise him that the State could introduce rebuttal evidence after he testified. Following our review, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/07/21
Robert Derrick Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01849-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Robert Derrick Johnson, appeals as of right from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his conviction for robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel because counsel failed to (1) advise him of a statutory right to at least fourteen days to prepare for trial, see Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-14-105; (2) file a motion to continue the trial; (3) suppress the victim’s in-court identification of the Petitioner; (4) file a motion or object at trial to the destruction of video-recorded evidence; and (5) challenge the Petitioner’s second trial as violative of double jeopardy. The Petitioner also contends that the post-conviction court erred by striking his pro se amendment to the post-conviction petition. Following our review, we affirm.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/03/21
Melissa Ann (Letner) Grayson v. Elmer Wayne Grayson
E2020-01339-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arose from a 2011 divorce decree awarding to the wife one-half of the husband’s military retirement pay that had accumulated during the term of the marriage. At the time of the husband’s retirement in 2018, the United States Defense Finance and Accounting Service would not disburse retirement funds to the wife due to deficient award language contained in the 2011 order. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service explained in a letter addressed to the wife that the 2011 order had failed to provide a method to calculate the marital portion of the husband’s retirement pay and that it had no way to calculate retirement pay that had “accumulated during the term of the marriage.” In order to effectuate the enforcement of its intended division of the husband’s military retirement pay, the trial court attempted to correct its order by replacing “accumulated during the term of the marriage” with language compliant with the United States Department of Defense Financial Management Regulations (“DoD Regulations”) and specifying that the wife should be awarded fifty percent of the husband’s disposable military retired pay based upon his military pay grade rank and his creditable service years as of the date of the divorce.

Monroe County Court of Appeals 09/03/21
Tennessee Department of Human Services v. Andrew Jackson Heaton
E2021-00791-COA-R3-CV

A non-attorney filed a notice of appeal as next friend of Andrew Jackson Heaton. As a non-attorney next friend may not practice law while acting on behalf of an infant or incompetent, this appeal is hereby dismissed.

Washington County Court of Appeals 09/03/21
In Re Kierani C.
W2020-00850-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on Kierani C., the minor child (“the Child”) of Christopher A., Sr. (“Father”), and Keona C. (“Mother”). In August 2017, Mother surrendered her parental rights to the Child before the Shelby County Chancery Court (“chancery court”).1 At that time, the Child was placed in the legal custody and partial guardianship of Hannah’s Hope United Methodist Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling (“Hannah’s Hope”) and the physical custody of pre-adoptive parents, Katherine B. and Adrian B. In September 2017, Hannah’s Hope filed a petition in the chancery court to terminate Father’s parental rights to the Child. In January 2018, Father filed a petition to establish parentage in the Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court (“juvenile court”), and in May 2018, Katherine B. and Adrian B. filed a petition in the Shelby County Circuit Court (“trial court”) to terminate Father’s parental rights to the Child. Upon motions filed by Katherine B. and Adrian B., all matters pertaining to the Child were subsequently transferred to the trial court, which consolidated the actions. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted both termination petitions upon its finding clear and convincing evidence of ten statutory grounds, including four abandonment grounds, specifically that Father had willfully failed to (1) visit the Child in the four months preceding the petition’s filing by Hannah’s Hope, (2) financially support the Child in the four months preceding each petition’s filing, (3) visit Mother during the four months preceding the Child’s birth, and (4) make reasonable payments toward Mother’s financial support during the four months preceding the Child’s birth, as well as six grounds applicable to a putative father, specifically that Father had failed to (5) pay a reasonable share of expenses related to the Child’s birth, (6) make reasonable and consistent payments for the Child’s support, (7) seek reasonable visitation with the Child, (8) file a petition to establish paternity within thirty days of receiving notice of alleged paternity, and (9) manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the Child, and, additionally, that (10) placement of the Child in Father’s legal and physical custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the Child’s welfare. The trial court further found by clear and convincing evidence that it was in the Child’s best interest to terminate Father’s parental rights. Father has appealed. We hold that under Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-113(g)(9)(A)(ii) and (iii), a putative father’s efforts made after the termination petition’s filing may be considered in reviewing the respective grounds involving failure to support the child and failure to seek or maintain visitation with the child. Therefore, having determined that clear and convincing evidence did not support the trial court’s findings that Father’s efforts to support and visit the Child made after the respective petitions’ filings were unreasonable or token, we reverse the trial court’s findings as to these two grounds. We affirm the trial court’s judgment terminating Father’s parental rights in all other respects.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 09/03/21
State of Tennessee v. Terrance F. Arnold
W2020-00149-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, Terrance F. Arnold, appeals the Henderson County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation, arguing that there was no “substantial evidence” that he violated his probation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/02/21
State of Tennessee v. Quindarius Lamonta Jordan
M2020-00714-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Quindarius Lamonta Jordan, pleaded guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and unlawful possession of a firearm, a Class A misdemeanor See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-210 (2018) (second degree murder); 39-12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt); 39-13102 (2018) (aggravated assault); 39-17-1307 (2018) (unlawful weapon possession). The trial court imposed eleven years for attempted second degree murder, five years for aggravated assault, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for the firearm violation. The court imposed partial consecutive service, for an effective sixteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by ordering confinement and consecutive service. Although we affirm the judgments of the trial court, we remand the case for the entry of judgment forms reflecting a dismissal of the charges in indictment Counts 1, 4, 5, and 6.  

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/02/21
Guidesoft, Inc. D/B/A Knowledge Services v. State Protest Committee, State of Tennessee, Et Al.
M2020-00964-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a bid protest. UWork.com, Inc., d/b/a Covendis Technologies (“Covendis”) successfully bid on a contract to manage a network of temporary workers for the State of Tennessee. Guidesoft, Inc. d/b/a Knowledge Services (“Knowledge Services”), an unsuccessful bidder, filed a protest with the Central Procurement Office (“the CPO”). The CPO dismissed Knowledge Services’ bid for insufficient bond. Knowledge Services appealed to the State Protest Committee (“the Committee”), which denied the appeal. Knowledge Services then filed a petition for common law writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”). After a hearing, the Trial Court dismissed Knowledge Services’ amended petition. Knowledge Services now appeals to this Court, arguing that under Tenn. Code Ann. § 12-3-514(d), its protest bond should be based on 5% of the lowest evaluated cost proposal rather than 5% of the State’s estimated maximum liability as found below. We hold, inter alia, that the protest bond statute is meant to protect the State, and the appropriate protest bond amount is based on the costs the State may incur rather than a bidder’s proposed cost. Further, the fee relied upon by Knowledge Services to calculate its protest bond is but a small portion of the contract at issue, which is estimated to cost the State $190,000,000. The Committee did not exceed its jurisdiction or act illegally, arbitrarily, or fraudulently. We affirm the Trial Court. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/02/21
Regions Bank v. Doctor R. Crants
M2020-01703-COA-R3-CV

This is a collection lawsuit to recover the balance Appellant allegedly owes on a promissory note held by Appellee.  On Appellant’s motion, the trial court stayed the proceedings and remitted the matter to binding arbitration pursuant to the terms of the promissory note.  Appellant brings the instant appeal under Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(a).  Because the order appealed is not final, this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the appeal. Tenn. R. App. P. 3(a).  Furthermore, neither the Federal Arbitration Act nor the Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act provides a mechanism for appeal of Appellant’s issues to this Court.  Appeal dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/01/21
State of Tennessee v. Thomas McLaughlin
E2020-01434-CCA-R3- CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Thomas McLaughlin, was convicted by a Union County jury of vehicular homicide. See Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 39-13-213. The Defendant also pleaded guilty to one count each of driving on a revoked license, violating the financial responsibility law, driving without registration, and driving without registration plates. The trial court classified the Defendant as a persistent offender and imposed a total effective sentence of 15 years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: 1) he was unfairly prejudiced by the introduction of evidence of his toxicology reports and license status; 2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for vehicular homicide; and 3) his sentence is unlawful because the trial court erroneously applied aggravating factors.1 Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Union County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/21
State of Tennessee v. Robert Joseph McBride
M2020-00765-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Robert Joseph McBride, was indicted by the Bedford County Grand Jury for one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor involving a number of materials exceeding 25; eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, each involving a number of materials exceeding 100; and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor involving a number of materials exceeding 50. Following the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a warrant to search Defendant’s house and computer, Defendant entered guilty pleas to eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor involving materials exceeding 100, all Class B felonies. The agreed upon sentence was 12 years on each count, to be served concurrently. Defendant reserved for our review eight certified questions of law. We conclude that only Defendant’s question regarding the staleness of the information supporting the search warrant, is dispositive. After reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/21
State of Tennessee v. Darious Fitzpatrick
M2018-02178-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Darious Fitzpatrick, appeals as of right from his convictions for first degree felony murder, second degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery, for which the trial court imposed an effective sentence of life plus twenty years. The Defendant’s sole issue on appeal is whether his sentence is unconstitutional in light of his status as a juvenile at the time of the offenses. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/21
Jeremy Khristian Abney v. Kaitlynne Nichole Pace
M2020-00182-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a post-divorce proceeding. The father filed a petition to modify child support, and the mother filed a civil contempt action against the father for failure to pay child support as ordered by the court. Following trial, the trial court found that a significant variance existed from the previously ordered child support obligation and granted the father’s petition to modify child support. The trial court retroactively modified the father’s child support obligation from the date the petition was filed, resulting in three modifications while the petition had been pending. In the respective child support worksheets for the modifications, the trial court declined to include a credit to the mother for the health insurance premiums she had paid for the child, determining such expense of additional insurance coverage not to be “a reasonable necessity or requirement.” In consideration of the mother’s civil contempt complaint, the trial court found that the father had been in contempt of court due to his failure to pay child support as ordered by the court but that he had cured his contempt due to an involuntary payment from his income tax refund proceeds and the retroactive modification of his obligation and resultant overpayment of child support while the petition to modify was pending. The trial court further denied an award of attorney’s fees to either party. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court in all respects.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 08/31/21
In Re Kaelyn R.
E2020-01254-COA-R3-PT

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her daughter. The trial court concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence that the mother had abandoned her child by wanton disregard and by committing severe child abuse against her. The court also concluded that the evidence was clear and convincing that termination of parental rights was in the child’s best interest. We agree and affirm.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 08/31/21
Nigel M. Reid, II v. Colette Jean Wallace
E2021-00181-COA-R3-CV

Following a hearing, the Circuit Court for Hamblen County (“trial court”) entered an order of protection against Nigel Reid II (“Respondent” or “Cross-Petitioner”) and in favor of Collette Jean Wallace (“Petitioner” or “Cross-Respondent”). Respondent appealed to this Court. Because Respondent’s brief fails to comply with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27, we dismiss the appeal.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 08/30/21
Frederick Tucker v. State of Tennessee
M2020-00810-CCA-R3-ECN

The Petitioner, Fredrick L. Tucker, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his rape of a child conviction, for which he received a twenty-one-year sentence. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/21
State of Tennessee v. James Howard Harmon, Jr.
E2019-02044-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, James Howard Harmon, Jr., appeals his Blount County Circuit Court jury convictions of second degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, theft of property valued at $500 or less, arson, and abuse of a corpse, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence his statement of April 10, 2012, and by admitting evidence in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b). Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/21