Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/18/2017
Format: 10/18/2017
State of Tennessee v. Brian Robert Lawson
M2017-00238-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda McClendon

The State of Tennessee appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s order dismissing the indictment, which charged the Defendant with domestic assault by causing bodily injury. On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred by dismissing the indictment. We conclude that the trial court erred by dismissing the indictment. The order of the trial court is reversed, the domestic assault charge is reinstated, and the case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Gabriel Toban
M2016-00952-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Jones

The Defendant, Gabriel Toban, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of third offense driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §55-10-401 (2012). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his DUI conviction, (2) the trial court erred by rejecting a negotiated plea agreement, (3) the indictment was invalid, and (4) the trial court erred by denying a motion to dismiss. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Brijesh Mukesh Desai
M2016-02301-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Brijesh Mukesh Desai, the Defendant, entered a negotiated guilty plea to Class C felony issuing or passing a worthless check in the amount of $10,000 or more but less than $60,000. The plea agreement provided that the Defendant would be sentenced as a Range I standard offender; the sentence would be between three and six years; there would be a possibility of diversion; restitution would be $18,871.34; and the manner of service was to be determined by the trial court at a later hearing. Following the sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to six years’ probation following the service of forty-five days in jail. The Defendant now appeals, claiming that the trial court erred in accepting his plea of guilty. However, the Defendant did not reserve the right to appeal a certified question of law or seek review of his sentence, nor do any other grounds for direct appeal under Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(b) exist. Because the Defendant has no right to a direct appeal from his guilty plea, the appeal is dismissed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Calandra Clark
W2017-00135-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Calandra Clark, of identity theft, forgery, driving on a revoked license, and violation of the seat belt law. The Defendant pled guilty to an additional count of driving on a revoked license as a prior offender, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of four years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain her convictions for identity theft and forgery and that her sentence is improper. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/17
Mark Stephen Foster v. Jonathan Lebo, Warden
W2017-00924-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Pro se petitioner, Mark Foster, appeals from the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. Relying on Anthony D. Byers v. State, the petitioner argues in this appeal that his convictions for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony are illegal and in direct contravention of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324(c). No. W2011-00473-CCA-R3-PC, 2012 WL 938976, at *8 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 15, 2012) perm. app. denied (Aug. 15, 2012). Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan David Patterson - Concurring
M2016-01716-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson
I concur in the majority opinion in this case. I write separately to express a policy reason for affirming the trial court’s original sentence.
 
Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan David Patterson
M2016-01716-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson
This is a matter that involves cross appeals. Defendant, Jonathan David Patterson, entered an open guilty plea to multiple offenses in four separate cases. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of thirty-one years. Defendant filed a notice of appeal. Subsequently, Defendant also filed a motion for reduction of his sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35. The trial court granted the motion, reducing Defendant’s effective sentence to eighteen years. The State appealed the reduction of Defendant’s sentence. The appeals were consolidated by this Court. After a review, we determine that the trial court abused its discretion in granting relief under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35 because Defendant did not present post-sentencing information or developments that warranted an alteration in the interest of justice. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court as to the Rule 35 motion are reversed and remanded. Additionally, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in its original sentencing decision imposing an effective thirty-one-year sentence and that Defendant failed to show he was entitled to plain error relief as a result of an alleged breach of the plea agreement by the State. On remand, the trial court should reinstate the original judgments and sentences. The trial court shall also enter a judgment form for Count Thirty-seven of case number 2015-CR-731.
 
Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/17
Terrence McDonald v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02565-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, Terrence McDonald, was convicted of four counts of aggravated rape and one count of reckless endangerment. He appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief and argues that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Arthur Jay Hirsch
M2016-00321-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove
The defendant, Arthur Jay Hirsch, appeals his Lawrence County Circuit Court jury convictions of driving on a suspended license, unlawfully carrying a weapon with the intent to go armed, and violating both the vehicle registration and financial responsibility laws, claiming that the statute proscribing the unlawful carrying of a weapon is unconstitutional, that the rulings of the trial court evinced a bias against him and resulted in a violation of due process principles, and that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 
Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Arthur Vincent
M2016-02530-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham
The defendant, Douglas Arthur Vincent, appeals his Sequatchie County Circuit Court guilty-pleaded conviction of rape, claiming only that the trial court erred by imposing the maximum available sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 
Sequatchie County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Daniel T. Maupin
M2016-01483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe
The Defendant, Daniel T. Maupin, was convicted by a Dickson County Circuit Court jury of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony, and driving under the influence (“DUI”), a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to consecutive terms of two years for the criminally negligent homicide conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended after service of six months, for the DUI. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred: (1) by not declaring a mistrial after a prospective juror made a statement about drug impairment; (2) by not having the jurors put their questions in writing during the deliberations and not reducing supplemental jury instructions to writing; and (3) by denying judicial diversion. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we notice that the judgment in Count 2 and the transcript from the sentencing hearing indicate that restitution was reserved. Therefore, we remand for a restitution hearing or entry of a corrected judgment in Count 2 indicating the agreed-upon restitution.
 
Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Clarence Eric Norris
M2016-02111-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn
The Defendant, Clarence Eric Norris, appeals the trial court’s ordering him to serve the remainder of his eight-year sentence in confinement after finding that he violated the terms of his community corrections sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher King Knight
W2016-00673-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

A Hardin County jury convicted the Defendant, Christopher Knight, of second degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-two years in confinement. In this appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court failed to excuse a juror for cause when the juror had extrajudicial information about the Defendant; (2) the trial court failed to perform its role as the thirteenth juror; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/17
Curtis Wren v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00500-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Curtis Wren, filed a petition for post-conviction relief and a motion to correct an illegal sentence. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the pleading, finding that the petition for post-conviction relief was untimely, that the petition failed to allege a sufficient factual basis for a motion to reopen prior post-conviction proceedings, and that the petition failed to state a colorable claim of an illegal sentence. On appeal, Petitioner only challenges the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. Upon our review of the record, we determine that this is Petitioner’s second such petition and that dismissal was proper on that ground. Thus, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/17
In Re Billy T.W. et al.
E2016-02298-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Henry E. Sledge

In this parental termination action, we conclude that the trial court properly found clear and convincing evidence to terminate the rights of the mother and father on the grounds of failure to provide a suitable home, substantial noncompliance with a permanency plan, and persistence of conditions. We conclude that the trial court erred in terminating the father’s rights on the ground of willful failure to visit. Clear and convincing evidence supports the trial court’s determination that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the children.

Loudon County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/27/17
Claudale Renaldo Armstrong v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02539-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell
The Petitioner, Claudale Renaldo Armstrong, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his conviction for the sale of 0.5 grams or more of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, his conviction for the sale of less than 0.5 grams of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, and his effective sentence of twenty-six years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion seeking recusal of the trial judge after the Petitioner filed a federal lawsuit and complaints with the Board of Professional Responsibility and the Board of Judicial Conduct against the judge. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.
 
Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/27/17
Ronald Christopher Hayes v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01094-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane
In 2010, the Petitioner entered a “best interest” plea to second degree murder and was sentenced to a term of twenty-five years. On April 5, 2016, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered evidence exists. On May 5, 2016, the trial court issued an order denying the petition as time-barred. The Petitioner appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to toll the statute of limitations. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 
Jackson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Christian Devon McDuffie
M2017-00103-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers and Judge John H. Gasaway, III
The Defendant, Christian Devon McDuffie, was found guilty by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury of three counts of aggravated child abuse, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. §39-15-402 (2014) (amended 2016). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent terms of fifteen years for each conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Donald Spray
M2016-00879-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.
Following a bench trial, the Defendant, Michael Donald Spray, a former dispatcher for the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department, was convicted in the Bedford County Circuit Court of eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor involving over 100 images, a Class B felony, and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor involving over 50 images, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to an effective term of sixteen years in the Department of Correction. The sole issue the Defendant raises on appeal is whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the images on the basis they were discovered as a result of an illegal, warrantless search by a fellow employee of the sheriff’s department. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/17
State of Tennessee v. William "Bill" Douglas Farr, Sr.
M2016-01216-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, William “Bill” Douglas Farr, Sr., was convicted by a Lawrence County Circuit Court jury of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and was sentenced to forty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument by vouching for the credibility of a witness and repeatedly referring to the Defendant as a “monster”; (2) the trial court erred in failing to give specific unanimity and election of offenses jury instructions; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (4) the trial court applied the incorrect law in determining his sentence. After review, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction but modify his sentence to twenty-five years and remand for entry of an amended judgment.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/17
Billy Dean Sizemore v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02531-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson
The Petitioner, Billy Dean Sizemore, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The State concedes that the post-conviction court erred in summarily dismissing the petition. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for an evidentiary hearing.
 
Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/17
State of Tennessee v. Barry Wayne Gossage
M2016-02264-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley
The Defendant, Barry Wayne Gossage, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his original sentence in confinement. On appeal, he argues that he should have been sentenced to a new term of community corrections or probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/17
State of Tennessee v. Charlotte Lynn Frazier and Andrea Parks
M2016-02134-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Burch

The Defendants, Charlotte Lynn Frazier and Andrea Parks, along with ninety-five other co-defendants, were charged through a presentment with conspiracy to manufacture, sell, or deliver 300 grams or more of methamphetamine with at least one defendant having committed an overt act within 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, recreation center, or child care facility.  The Defendants each filed a motion to suppress evidence seized during the execution of search warrants at their homes.  The Defendants alleged that the magistrate, a circuit court judge, lacked the authority to issue the search warrants because the Defendants’ homes were located outside the magistrate’s judicial district.  The trial court granted the Defendants’ motions.  The State sought and was granted permission to appeal in both cases pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9, and this court consolidated the appeals.  We hold that the magistrate did not have the authority to issue search warrants for property located outside his judicial district and that, as a result, the searches of the Defendants’ homes were unconstitutional.  Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s orders granting the Defendants’ motions to suppress and remand the cause to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.  

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Sharon Daugherty
M2016-02552-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

The Appellant, Sharon Daugherty, appeals the Macon County Criminal Court’s order denying her motion to recover firearms confiscated during a search of her home.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that she is entitled to the return of the property because the State dismissed the criminal charges against her.  Because the Appellant has no appeal as of right from the denial of a motion to recover confiscated property, we dismiss the appeal.  

Macon County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Glenn Black
M2016-02584-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

A Montgomery County jury convicted the Defendant, Joshua Glenn Black, of first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping.  The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in allowing a trial exhibit, the front door from the victim’s apartment, to remain in the courtroom for a period of time during the trial and (2) the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments.  Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.  

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/25/17