Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/18/2018
Format: 12/18/2018
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Baxter aka Maurice Gross - Concurring
W2016-01088-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

I write separately for the sole purpose of reiterating my belief that a prosecutor’s error in arguments to a jury should not be designated as “prosecutorial misconduct” or other words of similar import. See State v. Timothy McKinney, No. 2016-00834-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 1055719 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 23, 2018), Woodall, dissenting.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Baxter aka Maurice Gross
W2016-01088-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Maurice Baxter, of aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, and theft of property valued more than $1,000, and he received an effective sentence of fifty-eight years in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to hear that his DNA profile was in the CODIS database, that the trial court erred by allowing the defense’s DNA expert to testify for the State, and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its rebuttal closing argument. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the defense expert’s testifying for the State constitutes reversible error. We also conclude that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct and that the cumulative effect of that error further warrants reversal. Accordingly, the Appellant’s convictions must be reversed and the case remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/10/18
Allen Booker v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01662-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Allen Booker, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he failed to receive due process at his trial or in the post-conviction evidentiary hearing and the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Marlon Boyd
W2017-00791-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Defendant, Marlon Boyd, was convicted of first degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life without parole plus 30 years. On appeal, Defendant argues (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever the count of the indictment alleging possession of a firearm by a convicted felon from the other charges; (2) that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the State to use Defendant’s prior convictions for impeachment purposes; and (3) that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Upon our review of the record, we find no reversible error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/10/18
James Michael Naive v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00278-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Woodruff

A Williamson County jury convicted Petitioner, James Michael Naive, of the first degree premeditated murder of his sister. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to life imprisonment. On appeal, this court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. State v. James Michael Naive, No. M2012-00893-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 4505395 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 21, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 11, 2013). Petitioner filed a postconviction petition, and the post-conviction court denied relief following an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel in that trial counsel’s defense strategy was unlikely to be successful, and trial counsel failed to advise Petitioner that his testimony was essential to his defense. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/10/18
Roy Smith v. State of Tennessee - Dissent
M2017-00321-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

I respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by the majority in this case. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at the plea negotiation stage. Specifically, the Petitioner argues that trial counsel was deficient in proceeding to trial based on an erroneous jurisdictional argument. As a result, the Petitioner argues that, but for trial counsel’s erroneous advice, he would have accepted the State’s more favorable plea offer. The State argues that the Petitioner has failed to overcome the presumption that trial counsel exercised reasonable judgment in all strategic decisions. Moreover, the State asserts that because the Petitioner has failed to prove he would have accepted the ten-year offer extended to him instead of the twentyyear offer, he has failed to prove prejudice. For the reasons that follow, I would have reversed the judgment of the post-conviction court and remanded this matter for a rehearing. The facts underlying the Petitioner’s convictions stem from the execution of a search warrant upon his home resulting in the discovery of oxycodone and several hundred dihydrocodeinone pills. State v. Roy Allen Smith, No. M2014-01172-CCA-R3- CD, 2015 WL 3550106, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 8, 2015) perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 15, 2015). The Petitioner was ultimately convicted after a jury trial of simple possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell, maintaining a dwelling used for keeping or selling controlled substances, and possession of drug paraphernalia, for which he received an effective twelve-year sentence. Id. The trial court ordered the Petitioner’s twelve-year sentence to be served consecutively to six prior convictions with an aggregate sentence of thirty-seven years for which the Petitioner had been on probation at the time that the instant offenses were committed. Roy Allen Smith, at *3. In total, it appears that the Petitioner received an effective forty-nine-year sentence, the bulk of which is for driving offenses.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/18
Roy Smith v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00321-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

Petitioner, Roy Smith, was convicted at trial of several drug-related offenses and sentenced to twelve years to be served consecutively to a prior aggregate sentence of thirty-seven years. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel advised him to reject a favorable plea offer in favor of attempting to have the charges dismissed at trial based on a jurisdictional argument. The post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner now appeals, asking this Court, among other things, to require the State to re-extend the alleged plea offer pursuant to Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156, 174 (2012). We decline and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Geremy Paul Mathis
M2017-00166-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

The Appellant, Geremy Paul Mathis, was convicted by a Coffee County Circuit Court Jury of initiating a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a Range I, standard offender to eleven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion to suppress the “meth lab” discovered after an officer ordered the Appellant to exit the vehicle in which he was a passenger, (2) denying his motion for mistrial after a defense witness made repeated references to the Appellant’s previous incarceration, and (3) refusing to grant the alternative sentence of community corrections. The Appellant further contends that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Larry Franklin Mann
M2017-01929-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Buddy D. Perry

The Defendant, Larry Franklin Mann, appeals his convictions following a jury trial in 2001 for attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, and especially aggravated kidnapping, for which he received an effective sentence of twenty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant maintains that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury in accordance with State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012). We conclude that the trial court’s failure to issue the instruction was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and we, therefore, affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael A. Flippen, Jr.
M2017-01288-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Michael A. Flippen, Jr., entered a guilty plea to second degree murder, with the length of his sentence to be determined by the trial court. Following a hearing, the Defendant received a twenty-year sentence to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the length of his sentence, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in applying certain enhancement factors. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Dedrick Wiggins
W2017-00926-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Dedrick Wiggins (“Defendant”) was convicted by a Shelby County jury of second degree murder and sentenced to thirty-five years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting the victim’s statement under the dying declaration hearsay exception and that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Andrea Spencer
W2017-02475-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Appellant, Andrea Spencer, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred because his motion stated a colorable claim for sentencing outside the statutory ranges and a Blakely v. Washington violation. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/08/18
Joshua L. Carter v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02401-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Joshua L. Carter, Petitioner, was convicted in separate jury trials of sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine in a drug-free zone; possession with the intent to sell or deliver more than .5 grams of cocaine in a drug-free zone; simple possession of marijuana; and evading arrest in case number 2011-B-1648 and of voluntary manslaughter, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and felony murder in case number 2011-D-3013. Petitioner received a total effective sentence of forty years as a multiple offender in case number 2011-B-1648 and received a life sentence in case number 2011-D-3013, to be served consecutively to his forty-year sentence. These cases were consolidated on appeal, and this court affirmed Petitioner’s convictions. Petitioner filed petitions for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court consolidated the petitions and denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner asserts that: (1) trial counsel in case number 2011-D-3013 failed to call an alibi witness; (2) trial counsel in case numbers 2011-B-1648 and 2011-D- 3013 failed to properly investigate the cases; and (3) trial counsel in case number 2011- B-1648 failed to withdraw. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Wellington Thomas
E2017-01859-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Elizabeth C. Asbury

Defendant, Wellington Thomas, pled guilty to driving under the influence (“DUI”), second offense, and evading arrest. In doing so, Defendant reserved a certified question of law regarding the legality of his traffic stop. The police officer that stopped Defendant observed Defendant’s vehicle touching the fog line twice and crossing the centerline dividing southbound lanes of traffic without a signal. The basis for the traffic stop cited by the police officer was that Defendant had failed to maintain his lane. Defendant filed a motion to suppress and contended that the traffic stop was unconstitutional. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. After a review of the record and the dash camera video depicting Defendant’s driving, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/08/18
Joshua Brown v. State of Tennessee
E2017-01788-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Petitioner, Joshua Brown, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/18
Katherine Louise Holmes v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01479-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Fishburn

The petitioner, Katherine Louise Holmes, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged her 2012 conviction of attempted first degree murder, alleging that she was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/18
State of Tennessee v. Donald Ray Mahaffey
M2017-00387-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Donald Ray Mahaffey, was convicted of the sale of more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine; delivery of more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine; conspiracy to sell and deliver more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine; possession of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony; unlawful possession of a weapon after having been convicted of a felony involving the use or attempted use of force, violence, or a deadly weapon; possession of marijuana for resale; and possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of thirty-two years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/18
Jonathon C. Hood v. Robert Baggett, Circuit Court Clerk
M2018-00336-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

Appellant, Jonathan C. Hood, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his petition seeking habeas corpus relief. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/18
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Sinquarius Marks
M2017-02013-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Appellant, Anthony Sinquarius Marks, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Eugene David Sanders, Jr.
M2017-01916-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Defendant, Eugene David Sanders, Jr., appeals from his Davidson County Criminal Court convictions of aggravated assault and aggravated criminal trespass, for which he received an effective sentence of fifteen years to serve in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant contends that: (1) the jury’s verdict was against the weight of the evidence; (2) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on self-defense; and (3) the trial court erred by allowing the State to call Defendant’s court-appointed private investigator as a rebuttal witness. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Jose Ortiz
M2016-02457-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Appellant, Jose Ortiz, was convicted of child abuse and aggravated sexual battery. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions and contends that “to enable reasonable appellate review[, this] court must establish a standard of performance for the trial court to satisfy its duty as the thirteenth juror.” Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael Dewayne Wade
M2017-01884-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The defendant, Michael Dewayne Wade, appeals the revocation of his community corrections placement, arguing that the trial court erred by ordering the balance of his 12- year sentence to be served in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Teddy Lynn Sams
E2017-01837-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Defendant, Teddy Lynn Sams, pleaded guilty to three counts of violating a condition of community supervision in exchange for an effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the sentence. After a hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court erred when it did not order an alternative sentence. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/03/18
State of Tennessee v. Claude Delanore Maney, Jr.
M2017-01711-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant, Claude Delanore Maney, Jr., was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault by strangulation and was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to eight years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/03/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Russell
M2017-01152-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Defendant, Christopher Russell, appeals his convictions for second degree murder and aggravated child abuse and his effective twenty-five-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to continue the trial; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence; and (4) his sentences are excessive. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/03/18