Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/01/2021
Format: 12/01/2021
State of Tennessee v. Demetrious Tommy Lee
M2020-00914-CCA-R3-CD
In 2018, a Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Demetrious Tommy Lee, for attempted first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, reckless endangerment, evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle, and domestic assault. In 2019, a superseding indictment was returned, elevating the Defendant’s kidnapping charge to especially aggravated kidnapping and adding a charge for employment of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony but keeping all other charges the same. One week prior to trial, the Defendant filed a motion for a continuance, which the trial court denied following a hearing. At trial, the jury found the Defendant guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted second degree murder as well as the charged offenses of especially aggravated kidnapping and employment of a firearm but found the Defendant not guilty of evading arrest. The charges of reckless endangerment and domestic assault were dismissed. Thereafter, the trial court imposed an effective eighteen-year sentence to be served at 100% for these convictions. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to continue his trial after the State superseded the indictment and presented him with additional discovery shortly before trial; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to exclude evidence that violated State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999); (3) the trial court committed plain error in not requiring the State to make an election of offenses with regard to the especially aggravated kidnapping count; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for attempted second degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. Keontis Dontrell Cunningham
M2020-00874-CCA-R3-CD

A Bedford County jury convicted the defendant, Keontis Dontrell Cunningham, of two counts of aggravated assault, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of five years’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and argues the trial court erred in instructing the jury on selfdefense.  Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. Darnell Treshawn Wiggins
M2019-02086-CCA-R3-CD

A Maury County jury convicted the defendant, Darnell Treshawn Wiggins1, of second degree murder, first degree felony murder, and kidnapping, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions, the jury improperly weighed the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its opening statement. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in admitting Officer Dalton’s testimony during the penalty phase, in denying his motion for mistrial, and in denying his motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
Ed Henry Loyde v. State of Tennessee
W2020-01310-CCA-R3-HC

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Ed Henry Loyde, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of thirty-five years. This Court affirmed the judgments on appeal. State v. Ed Loyde, No. W2014-01055-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 1598121 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Apr. 6, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 21, 2015). After unsuccessfully filing a petition for post-conviction relief, Ed Loyde v. State No. W2018-01740-CCA-R3-PC, 2020 WL 918602 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Feb. 25, 2020), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 22, 2020), the Petitioner filed for a writ of habeas corpus, which the habeas corpus court summarily dismissed. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. Will Vaughn
W2020-00366-CCA-R3-CD

In a consolidated trial of Case No. 18-04092 and Case No. 18-04093, a Shelby County jury convicted Will Vaughn (“Defendant”) of fifteen counts of Class C felony facilitation of attempted second degree murder, fifteen counts of Class C felony employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and two counts of Class A misdemeanor facilitation of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. The trial court sentenced Defendant to six years for each of the thirty felony counts and to eleven months and
twenty-nine days for each count of facilitation of reckless endangerment counts. The trial court aligned some convictions concurrently and others consecutively in each case. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court stated that it was imposing an effective thirty-year sentence in Case No. 18-04092 and an effective thirty-year sentence in Case No. 18-04093 and ordered the two sentences to be run consecutively for a total effective sentence of sixty years. The “special conditions” section of the thirty-two judgment forms signed by the trial court state that the total effective sentence is fifty-four years. Also, the judgment forms for some of the counts do not match the consecutive/concurrent alignment announced by the trial court. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review, we affirm the convictions and consecutive sentencing but remand for trial court resentencing in two counts and for entry of the proper judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
Irene Howard v. State of Tennessee
M2020-00735-COA-R3-CV

Following a car accident involving an employee of the State of Tennessee, Irene Howard (“Claimant”) sought damages against the State based on alleged injuries arising from the accident. The claim was denied by the Division of Claims and Risk Management (the “DCRM”), and Claimant thereafter appealed to the Claims Commission (the “Commission”). Because Claimant failed to appeal the DCRM’s decision within ninety days, however, the Commission concluded it lacked jurisdiction over the case and dismissed the appeal. We affirm.

Court of Appeals 08/26/21
In Re L.F., Et Al.
M2020-01663-COA-R3-PT

This case involves a petition to terminate parental rights.  The petition was filed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services against the biological mother of three minor children.  The petition listed seven grounds for termination of the mother’s parental rights.  After a final hearing on the petition, the trial court terminated Mother’s parental rights, finding five grounds for termination: (1) abandonment by failing to visit; (2) persistence of conditions; (3) substantial noncompliance with a permanency plan; (4) failure to manifest an ability or willingness to parent; and (5) severe child abuse.  We affirm the trial court in part, reverse in part, and remand.

Franklin County Court of Appeals 08/26/21
State of Tennessee v. James McClain
W2019-01217-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, James McClain, appeals his Madison County Circuit Court jury convictions of aggravated assault and witness coercion, claiming that the trial court erred by permitting him to represent himself at trial, by permitting the State to proceed on an amended indictment, and by imposing consecutive sentences. Because the record establishes that the defendant knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived his right to counsel, that the indictment was not amended, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/21
State of Tennessee v. David Yost, Jr.
E2020-01115-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se petitioner, David Yost, Jr., appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/21
In Re Jackson H.
M2020-01551-COA-R3-PT

The trial court terminated a father’s parental rights to his child on the grounds of (1) persistence of conditions, (2) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to personally assume custody or financial responsibility, (3) substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, and (4) abandonment by wanton disregard. The trial court also found that termination of the father’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Although we reverse three of the termination grounds, we affirm the trial court’s conclusion that clear and convincing evidence supports a finding of abandonment by wanton disregard. We also affirm the trial court’s determination that the termination of the father’s parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

Giles County Court of Appeals 08/25/21
James Black v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01008-CCA-R3-CD

The Petitioner, James Black, was convicted of two counts each of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder and was sentenced to a concurrent life sentence by the trial court. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel stemming from trial counsel’s legal use of prescribed opioids during his trial, specifically asserting that 1) the prescribed opioids caused him to perform deficiently at trial; 2) that trial counsel’s offering of the Petitioner’s criminal history tainted the jury; and 3) that trial counsel’s use of prescribed opioids combined with his severe back pain created a conflict of interest. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/21
Delia Ruth Smith Durham v. Karen Stone, Et Al.
E2020-01444-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff. After two hearings, the trial court entered an order granting the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 08/25/21
Carlos Rodgers et al v. Nationstar Mortgage et al.
W2020-01022-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns the dismissal of one of the defendants involved in the underlying case. Because there is no written order evidencing how the operative claims against the subject defendant were resolved, we vacate the trial court’s dismissal of the defendant and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Opinion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/24/21
W. Scott Johnson v. Tomcat USA, Inc. et al.
E2021-00057-COA-R9-CV

This interlocutory appeal concerns the trial court’s refusal to enforce a forum selection clause contained in a stock bonus transfer agreement in this action arising out of the termination of the plaintiff’s employment. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue, citing the forum selection clause, which specified New York as the sole venue for litigating claims. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The defendants appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 08/24/21
Zachary Gale Rattler v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01533-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Zachary Gale Rattler, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he was deprived of a fair and impartial jury and received ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/24/21
State of Tennessee v. Kavasia S. Bonds and Charles Allen Jones
M2020-00323-CCA-R3-CD

Defendants, Kavasia S. Bonds and Charles Allen Jones, along with a co-defendant Brian Davis, were indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for aggravated assault while acting in concert with two or more other persons. Following a jury trial, Defendants Bonds and Jones were convicted as charged, and the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict as to Defendant Davis. For their convictions, Defendant Bonds was sentenced to 16 years’ incarceration, and Defendant Jones was sentenced to 14 years. In this appeal as of right, Defendants Bonds and Jones both challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Defendant Bonds also asserts that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence a photograph of the victim’s eye and that the prosecutor improperly commented on Defendant Bonds’ silence at trial during closing arguments. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/21
State of Tennessee v. Devin L. Legon
M2020-00866-CCA-R3-CD
The Defendant, Devin L. Legon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of property valued over $60,000, aggravated burglary, and theft of property valued over $60,000. He agreed to pay $60,000 in restitution and to serve an effective ten-year sentence on probation. A revocation warrant was issued, and following a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
 
Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/21
Jennifer Pallotta Gaby v. Tony Harold Gaby
E2020-00790-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce, child custody case, Appellant/Father filed a petition to modify the permanent parenting plan, seeking equal parenting time. Appellee/Mother opposed the petition. The trial court held that there had been a material change of circumstance and awarded Father additional parenting time, but not equal parenting time. On appeal, Father asserts that the trial court failed to consider the statutory best interest factors. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-106(a). Although we leave undisturbed the portion of the trial court’s order concerning a material change of circumstance, the trial court’s failure to make best interest findings in compliance with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01 precludes any meaningful appellate review of that question. Accordingly, we vacate the order and remand for entry of an order that includes the required findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Greene County Court of Appeals 08/23/21
Rickie Heatherly v. Off The Wagon Tours, LLC
M2019-01582-COA-R3-CV

Relying on an inapplicable statute, the plaintiff asked the court to order a limited liability company to produce records for his inspection.  Claiming that the plaintiff had never been a member, the LLC denied that he was entitled to access its records.  After a bench trial, the court found that the plaintiff was a member and entitled to inspect and copy the records.  So the court ordered the LLC to allow the inspection and to pay the plaintiff’s costs and attorney’s fees incurred in filing suit.  The evidence does not preponderate against the court’s finding that the plaintiff was a member at formation of the LLC.  But because the relief was sought under an inapplicable statute, we vacate the inspection order and the award of attorney’s fees. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/23/21
Rarity Bay Partners v. Rarity Bay Community Association Inc. Et Al.
E2021-00166-COA-R10-CV

Members of a nonprofit corporation sought to compel production of election records from the election of the corporation’s board of directors. The trial court ordered production of the records pursuant to a protective order. This Court granted the Rule 10 appeal to determine whether production of the election ballots is required under the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act, whether the members have a privacy right with respect to their votes, and whether the trial court’s protective order protects that privacy right. We hold that production of the ballots is required under the statute, members have a limited privacy right with respect to their votes, and the protective order protects that right.

Monroe County Court of Appeals 08/23/21
State of Tennessee v. Gabriel Storm Davis
M2020-00431-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Gabriel Storm Davis, was convicted by a jury of one count of aggravated child abuse and one count of aggravated child neglect.  The trial court imposed an effective twenty-two-year sentence, as a Range I standard offender, to be served at 100 percent, by operation of law, in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, Defendant argues: that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; that the State’s election of offenses was insufficient to ensure a unanimous verdict; and that the trial court erred by admitting the victim’s forensic interview into evidence.  Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/21
Karla Chase v. Ober Gatlinburg, Inc.
E2020-00649-COA-R3-CV

This action arises from a snowboarding accident at Defendant Ober Gatlinburg’s ski resort. Plaintiff Karla Chase, attempting to avoid a collision with another skier, crashed face-first into a 4x4 post supporting a warning fence marking the edge of the slope’s navigable terrain. She alleged that Defendant negligently created an unreasonably dangerous condition by not using rounded and/or padded fence posts. The jury returned a verdict finding Defendant not at fault. After returning the verdict form, one of the jurors requested and was allowed to read a statement saying, “we find the defendant not guilty. We, the jury, are in one accord that Ober and the ski industry should look into using materials for posts with rounded corners or more padding.” Plaintiff filed a motion for new trial, but died before the hearing and the trial court’s ruling denying the motion. Plaintiff’s counsel filed a notice of appeal in the deceased Plaintiff’s name. We hold that Plaintiff’s personal representative may be substituted for her on appeal pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 19(a) even though no motion for substitution was made, because Defendant did not request the trial court to dismiss the action pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 25.01. We affirm the trial court’s judgment approving the jury verdict in favor of Defendant.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/21
State of Tennessee v. Frank Layman Glavin
M2020-01125-CCA-R3-CO
Petitioner, Frank Layman Glavin, appeals the denial of his petition to expunge his evading arrest conviction claiming that the trial court misapplied the expunction statute. See T.C.A.§ 40-32-101(k)(Supp. 2020). We conclude that Petitioner does not meet the plain language requirements of section 40-32-101(k) of the Tennessee Code, and accordingly affirm the trial court’s order.
 
Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/21
Lola Bernice Robinson v. Leah M. Robinson Et Al.
E2021-00034-COA-R3-CV

This case involves a dispute over a parcel of real property. The appellant filed suit alleging fraudulent conveyance of the property. The trial court granted a judgment in favor of the appellee, finding that the appellant did not meet her burden of proof to establish fraud, undue influence, or lack of capacity. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the trial court’s decision. Additionally, we award the appellee her attorney’s fees on appeal.

Washington County Court of Appeals 08/20/21
James Henry Matthew Owens v. Jessica Paige May
E2020-01322-COA-R3-JV

This is an appeal from the trial court’s entry of a permanent parenting plan involving one minor child. The trial court named the father primary residential parent of the minor child and entered a parenting plan awarding equal co-parenting time and ordering the child’s enrollment in the father’s school of choice. The mother appealed. Upon our review, we vacate the order of the trial court and remand for entry of sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law to facilitate appellate review.

Claiborne County Court of Appeals 08/19/21