Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 11/27/2014
Format: 11/27/2014
Cedric Dickerson v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01766-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Cedric Dickerson (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to life without the possibility of parole for his first degree felony murder conviction and eleven years for his aggravated robbery conviction and ordered the sentences to run concurrently. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court’s judgments. See State v. Cedric Dickerson, No. 02C01-9802-CR-00051, 1999 WL 74213, at *4 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 17, 1999). The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following a post-conviction hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that “the Eighth Amendment should prohibit life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders.” Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s decision denying relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Antonio Cole
W2013-02161-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Anthony Antonio Cole (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence, driving without a license, violation of the financial responsibility law, violation of the registration law, and failure to yield the right of way. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve a total effective sentence of twelve months and twenty-nine days in confinement. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions for driving under the influence, driving without a license, and failure to yield the right of way. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Dennis Butler
W2013-01397-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Dennis Butler (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of sale of cocaine. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant was sentenced to four years suspended to probation. Upon the filing of a probation revocation warrant, the Defendant was taken into custody, and a revocation hearing was held. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his original sentence in confinement. The Defendant timely appealed the trial court’s ruling. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Norman Branch
W2013-00964-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

A jury convicted the Defendant, Norman Branch, of theft of $500 or less and intentionally evading arrest in a motor vehicle. After a hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of six years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days, to be served in the workhouse. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends the following: (1) the trial court erred in allowing him to be impeached with twelve prior convictions; (2) the trial court erred in excluding certain of his testimony as inadmissible hearsay; (3) the evidence was not sufficient to support his evading arrest conviction; (4) the trial court provided an improper jury instruction on the evading arrest charge; (5) the trial court erred in sentencing him as a career offender; and (6) cumulative error entitles him to a new trial. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Michael Anthony Skettini
E2013-02780-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

The Defendant, Michael Anthony Skettini, appeals as of right from the Blount County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation and order of confinement for one year. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his probation based upon the “limited evidence” of driving under the influence (DUI) presented at the revocation hearing and that a “lesser period of split confinement . . . would have been more reasonable” under the circumstances. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s revocation of the Defendant’s probationary sentences and order of confinement.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
Mark L. Peck v. State of Tennessee, et al
E2013-01760-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

The petitioner, Mark L. Peck, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, arguing that newly discovered evidence of the unreliability of an FBI agent’s firearms testimony entitles him to a new trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TIMOTHY HOWARD CUNNINGHAM
M2013-2844-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Timothy Howard Cunningham, of reckless endangerment by use of a deadly weapon, namely a motor vehicle. The trial court sentenced him to four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/14
KENNETH DEWAYNE JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
M2013-02491-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

Petitioner, Kenneth Dewayne Johnson, pled guilty to aggravated assault in Davidson County on November 17, 2011.  On June 10, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the foreman of the grand jury that issued the indictment was ineligible to serve for being a convicted felon.  Petitioner also asserted that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and entered an unknowing and involuntary plea.  The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as untimely.  On August 16, 2013, Petitioner, with the assistance of counsel, filed a second petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the statute of limitations should be tolled in his case because the ineligibility of the grand jury foreman was not made public knowledge until after the statute of limitations had expired and was, therefore, a “later-arising” ground for relief.  The post-conviction court dismissed the petition, finding that the ineligibility of the grand jury foreman did not divest the trial court of jurisdiction and that Petitioner was not denied effective assistance of counsel.  Petitioner appealed.  Upon a thorough review of the law and the facts in this case, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
MYRON L. JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
M2013-02314-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Appellant, Myron L. Johnson, appeals the trial court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
 

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
Danny Lee Greene v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01583-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Petitioner, Danny Lee Greene, appeals the Washington County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2007 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence as a violent offender. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying him relief because (1) juror bias existed and (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Lee Driskell
E2013-01783-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

Robert Lee Driskill (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and one count of violating the implied consent law. Pursuant to the Defendant’s plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days’ incarceration, to be suspended on supervised probation after the service of forty-eight hours’ confinement. In conjunction with his guilty plea, the Defendant reserved the following certified question of law: “Whether the officer’s conduct violated the Defendant’s rights under Article I, Section 7 or the Fourth Amendment when the officer through activating blue lights caused the Defendant to stop his moving vehicle and encounter the officer.” Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we hold that the Defendant is entitled to no relief. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
Charles Middlebrook v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02411-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Charles Middlebrook, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 convictions upon guilty pleas for theft valued more than $1000 but less than $10,000 and assault and his Range III eight-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were involuntarily entered because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/14
STEVEN JAMES MCCAIN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
M2013-00992-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The petitioner, Steven James McCain, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 1998 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, claiming that the State withheld material evidence at trial and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/14