Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/23/2016
Format: 07/23/2016
Armand E. Booker, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01098-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Armand E. Booker, Jr., appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2014 guilty pleas to especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, attempt to commit aggravated robbery, and custodial interference and his effective fifteen-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that (1) his guilty pleas were involuntary and unknowing and (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Ivan Charles Marable
W2015-01670-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

In 1997, the defendant, Ivan Charles Marable, pled guilty to burglary and two charges of possession of a controlled substance. He claims that, although the offenses were committed serially, with the second and third committed while he was on bond, he pled to concurrent three-year sentences. He does not dispute that these sentences have expired. Now an inmate in a federal penitentiary, he filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 to correct his alleged illegal sentences and to award jail credits. The trial court granted the motion for an evidentiary hearing but ordered that it would not be held until after the defendant’s release from federal prison. The defendant appealed this order and sought to have a hearing after which he would be allowed to withdraw his pleas of guilty. Based upon the decision of our supreme court in State v. Adrian R. Brown, --- S.W.3d ---, No. E2014-00673-SC-R11-CD, 2015 WL 7748275 (Tenn. Dec. 2, 2015), which was released while the appeal was pending in this matter, we reverse the order of the trial court granting a hearing on the defendant’s motion and direct that his motion be dismissed because the 1997 Tennessee sentences of which he complains have expired.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Bruce Lee Robinson
W2015-01183-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The defendant, Bruce Lee Robinson, pled guilty in 1999 to first degree felony murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2015, he filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, claiming that his sentence was illegal. The trial court disagreed, dismissing the motion after concluding that it did not present a colorable claim. We agree and affirm the dismissal of the motion, pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Butler
M2015-00596-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Defendant-Appellant, Kevin Butler, was convicted by a Rutherford County jury of aggravated robbery and sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to fourteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in allowing the State to engage in prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument.  Upon review, it is necessary to remand this matter for entry of an amended judgment which reflects the sentence as stated in the trial court’s order denying the motion for new trial.  In all other respects, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Thomas A. Isbell - Concurring
M2015-00587-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

I concur in all portions of the majority opinion except the conclusion that the trial court did not violate the holding in Mitchell v. U.S., 526 U.S. 314 (1999).  In Mitchell, the Supreme Court held, 

By holding [the defendant’s] silence against her in determining the facts of the offense at the sentencing hearing, the [trial court] imposed an impermissible burden on the exercise of the constitutional right against compelled self-incrimination.

Id. at 330.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Thomas A. Isbell
M2015-00587-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendant, Thomas A. Isbell, was convicted of aggravated child abuse after his infant son was brought to Maury Regional Hospital with a spiral fracture of the left humerus.  As a result of the conviction, Defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in incarceration as a Range I, standard offender and ordered to serve 100% of the sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-501(i)(1) and (2)(K).  He appeals both his conviction and sentence.  After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Doug Harold Morrison
M2014-00762-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

Following a jury trial, Doug Harold Morrison (“the Defendant”) was convicted of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury as to the lesser included offense of attempted theft of property.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
Michael Wayne Davis v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00976-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Michael Wayne Davis (“the Petitioner”) appeals from the dismissal of his untimely filed petition for post-conviction relief.  The Petitioner argues that principles of due process require tolling the statute of limitations to file his petition.  Because the record does not justify tolling the statute of limitations, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
Jose A. Rivas v. Gerald McAllister, Warden
E2015-01506-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

In 2005, the petitioner pled guilty as a career offender to two counts of facilitation of first degree murder, a Class A felony, and he was sentenced to serve an effective sentence of sixty years in prison. On May 22, 2015, the petitioner filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus, asserting that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because, while his crimes took place in Hancock County, his guilty pleas were entered in Greene County. The trial court dismissed the petition, and the petitioner appeals. On review, we conclude that the judgments are facially valid, and we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Sammy Steadman
E2015-00884-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Joshua Sammy Steadman, appeals the trial court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence. He argues that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve his original sentence in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Carlos Campbell
E2015-00730-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Appellant, Carlos Campbell, stands convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, for which the trial court sentenced him to an effective term of six years' incarceration. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that his statement to the police should have been suppressed. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/16
Jordan Mansfield Looper v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01018-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Petitioner, Jordan Mansfield Looper, pleaded guilty to attempted second degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to twelve years in confinement.  State v. Jordan Mansfield Looper, No. M2012-02523-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 4647629, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 26, 2013).  Petitioner unsuccessfully appealed his twelve-year sentence.  Id.  Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, and he now appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.  Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel “abandoned” his case and when trial counsel told him that he would receive probation during sentencing.  Petitioner further argues that these errors, in addition to his grief after viewing pictures of the victim’s injuries for the first time, resulted in his guilty plea not being knowingly and voluntarily entered.  Following our thorough review of the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony John Silva - Dissent
M2015-00121-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge:

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s holding that the evidence preponderates against the findings of the trial court, thereby finding the Defendant’s warrantless arrest was sufficiently supported by probable cause.  I agree with the trial court that the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time of the arrest were not sufficient to lead a prudent person to believe that the Defendant committed or was committing a DUI offense.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony John Silva
M2015-00121-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The defendant, Anthony John Silva, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.  He filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the trial court granted.  The State now appeals, arguing that the defendant’s arrest was sufficiently supported by probable cause.  Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we reverse the judgment of the trial court granting the defendant’s motion to suppress, and we remand for further proceedings.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/16
Roscoe Graham v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01482-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

In August 2013, Roscoe Graham (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of aggravated sexual battery and sentenced to ten years' incarceration. Thereafter, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by: (1) failing to assert a viable defense; (2) coercing the Petitioner to waive filing of a motion for new trial and direct appeal; and (3) operating under an actual conflict of interest. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/16
Quinton Sanders v. State of Tennessee
W2014-02232-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Quinton Sanders, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, the petitioner argues that the post-conviction court failed to make adequate findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding one of his claims, and he argues that trial counsel was ineffective. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Bobo
W2015-00930-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Prior to his indictment, the defendant entered into a written and signed plea agreement with the State in general sessions court, where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing and presentment to the grand jury and indicated he intended to plead guilty to one count of aggravated burglary. After the matter was transferred to criminal court but before the court could accept the plea agreement, the State indicated that it would refuse to abide by the terms. The defendant was ultimately granted a preliminary hearing and indicted, and he then entered an open guilty plea to one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, one count of vandalism of property valued at $10,000 or more, a Class C felony, and one count of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more, a Class D felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant to serve four years on supervised probation for each conviction, with all the sentences to be served concurrently. In entering his guilty pleas, the defendant reserved a certified question of law asking this court to decide whether a written plea agreement, executed in general sessions court, was binding on the State prior to its acceptance by the criminal court. We conclude that the certified question is not dispositive of the defendant‘s aggravated burglary conviction, and accordingly dismiss the appeal of that offense. We further hold that such an agreement is not enforceable absent detrimental reliance by the defendant, and we conclude that the trial court did not err in remanding for a preliminary hearing and indictment rather than granting the defendant specific performance of the agreement. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Alex Hardin Huffstutter
M2015-00950-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

In conjunction with the entry of a nolo contendere plea to first offense driving under the influence (“DUI”), Defendant, Alex Hardin Huffstutter, reserved a certified question for appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) in which he asked this Court to determine whether Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-313 excluded DUI as an offense for which judicial diversion was available.  On appeal, this Court determined that the question was not dispositive and dismissed the appeal.  State v. Alex Hardin Huffstutter, No. M2013-02788-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 4261143, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 28, 2014), no perm. app. filed.  Subsequently, Defendant filed a motion in the trial court seeking reconsideration of his eligibility for judicial diversion.  The trial court considered the motion and issued an order denying relief.  Defendant appeals the denial of the motion to reconsider.  After a review, we determine that the appeal is not properly before this Court.  Consequently, the appeal is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Donte Dewayne Watson
M2015-00108-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Donte Dewayne Watson, the Defendant, was sentenced to eight years on community corrections under the supervision of the Davidson County Drug Court Program (“DCIV”).  Following the issuance of a warrant alleging violations of the drug court agreement order and an amended warrant alleging as an additional ground an arrest for a criminal offense, the Defendant filed a request that his case be transferred back to the court that sentenced him to drug court.  The criminal court judge, who also presided over DCIV, denied the request.  Following a hearing, the criminal court revoked community corrections, resentenced the Defendant to nine years, and ordered the sentence to be served in the Department of Correction.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court revoking the Defendant’s community corrections.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/16
Courtney Wesley v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01476-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Courtney Wesley, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2013 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more, alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Shuan Terrell Marsh
M2015-00848-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The defendant, Shuan Terrell Marsh, appeals his Marshall County Circuit Court jury conviction of third offense possession of a controlled substance, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Antonio M. Crockett
M2015-00566-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County jury found the Defendant, Antonio M. Crockett, guilty of first degree felony murder, for which the Defendant received a life sentence. On appeal from his conviction, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to sever his case from that of his co-defendant; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (3) the trial court erred in admitting the statement of the victim under the dying declaration hearsay exception; and (4) the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant’s life sentence to be served consecutively to a prior sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Donquise Tremonte Alexander
M2015-02098-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Donquise Tremonte Alexander, pleaded guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement to second degree murder and received a thirty-year sentence. More than three years later, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting that the trial court correct an illegal sentence because his sentence exceeds the sentencing range for a Range I offender convicted of a Class A felony. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion after determining that the Defendant knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty and agreed to a sentence outside the appropriate sentencing range pursuant to Hicks v. State, 945 S.W.2d 706 (Tenn. 1997). On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
Timothy L. Diggs, Sr. v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00503-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Don Ash

The Petitioner, Timothy L. Diggs, Sr., appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for aggravated child abuse and felony murder and his effective life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying relief on his due process and ineffective assistance of counsel claims. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Hill
W2015-01594-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

In 1991, the Defendant, Anthony Hill, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of more than 26 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, in case numbers 90-09874 and 90-15702, with agreed concurrent sentences of 7.2 years’ incarceration for each of the two convictions. In 2014, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 seeking to correct an illegal sentence, and the trial court held a hearing on the motion. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court held the Defendant’s sentences should have been ordered to run consecutively and thus were illegal. The trial court denied the Defendant’s 36.1 motion, holding that his sentences had expired which rendered the issue moot. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred because he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because his illegal sentence was a material component of his plea agreement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, and in accordance with the Tennessee Supreme Court’s recent holding in State v. Adrian R. Brown, __ S.W.3d __, No. E2014-00673-SC-R11-CD, 2015 WL 7748275, at *7 (Tenn. Dec. 2, 2015), we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/16