Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/01/2016
Format: 07/01/2016
In re AAAA Bonding Company, LLC
M2014-02157-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Ben H. Cantrell

The appellant, AAAA Bonding Company, LLC, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s revocation of its authority to write bail bonds.  The State concedes that the trial court erred because the evidence failed to show that the owner of the company and his wife, the circuit court clerk, commingled funds and, therefore, that she received an indirect benefit from his ownership of the company to justify the revocation.  However, the State requests that we remand the case to the trial court in order for the court to consider additional proof and make additional findings as to whether the court clerk is receiving some other direct or indirect benefit from her husband’s ownership of AAAA Bonding Company, LLC.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court but decline to remand the case for further proceedings.  Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is vacated.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Charles Wayne Dalton - Concurring
M2014-02156-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard

Although I am compelled to agree with the majority’s conclusion affirming the denial of coram nobis relief, I write separately to elaborate on the conundrum the petitioner faces in this case.  It is significant to me that the petitioner was convicted by a jury of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.  The State, the defense, and the trial court stipulated that at the time of his guilty plea to other charges and waiver of his right to appeal his jury convictions, the petitioner was not advised that he would be required to register as a sex offender, see T.C.A. § 40-39-211(a), (c), and that the petitioner’s offenses did not involve an element of sex. Despite the parties’ efforts to rectify the inequity of placing the petitioner on the sexual offender registry, because the petitioner’s kidnapping related convictions automatically trigger the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry Act, they were constrained by statute to comply.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
Charles Wayne Dalton v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02156-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Charles Wayne Dalton, filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, seeking relief from his convictions of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.  The Petitioner contended that he entered guilty pleas and forfeited his right to appeal without knowing that he would be required to be on the sexual offender registry for life.  The trial court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Marvin Johnson
W2015-00783-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant, Marvin Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-202 (2014). The trial court imposed a life sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, (3) the trial court erred by admitting an autopsy photograph of the victim, and (4) the trial court erred by denying his request for transcripts. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
Marquon Green v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00162-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Petitioner, Marquon L. Green, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. More specifically he contends that trial counsel (1) failed to adequately communicate with him; (2) failed to file a motion to suppress his confession; (3) failed to prepare him to testify at trial; and (4) failed to adequately question and impeach the State's witnesses. Petitioner also argues that appellate counsel failed to address whether Petitioner's statement was the result of a coerced confession. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel or appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Pamela Moses
W2014-02220-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Russell

The pro se defendant, Pamela Moses, appeals the Shelby County Circuit Court’s dismissal of her appeal of her convictions in the Bartlett Municipal Court for speeding and illegally parking in a handicapped parking space. Among other things, she argues that her notice of appeal was timely and that the trial court’s dismissal for failure to prosecute was improper because she was not notified of her trial date, in violation of her substantive and procedural due process rights. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Sara Anne Neumann
E2015-00945-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

The defendant, Sara Anne Neumann, was charged with one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”). The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence from the traffic stop, arguing that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion that she was committing a traffic violation to justify the stop. The trial court agreed and granted the motion to suppress. The State now appeals, arguing that the officer’s observation of the defendant and his radar gun constituted reasonable suspicion. Following a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we conclude that the evidence preponderates against the findings of the trial court. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
William T. Minton v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00986-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The petitioner, William T. Minton, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
Carl Jones, Jr. v. Doug Cook. et al.
E2015-01371-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

Pro se petitioner, Carl Jones, Jr., appeals the Bledsoe County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal, the petitioner argues that his judgment of conviction is void because the trial court failed to award him jail credit for time served on community corrections. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the habeas court and remand this matter for entry of an amended judgment awarding the petitioner 259 days of jail credit.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
Ameale Hudson v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01096-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Petitioner, Ameale Hudson, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel‘s failure to include in his motion for new trial the issue of the trial court‘s denial of two of the Petitioner‘s pretrial motions, which resulted in the waiver of the issues on direct appeal. He further asserts that the cumulative effect of trial counsel‘s errors entitles him to post-conviction relief. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Patton Benfield
W2015-00532-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Kevin Patton Benfield, was convicted by a Henderson County jury of one count of aggravated assault and received an effective sentence of six years' confinement. On appeal, the sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction. Upon our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Harris
W2015-00500-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Joseph Harris, appeals as of right from his jury conviction for aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction because violence was only used after the taking of the automobile had been completed; (2) that the trial court should have declared a mistrial when an alleged violation of Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), took place by a witness's reference to a co-defendant's statement that incriminated the Defendant; (3) that the trial court should have instructed the jury on joyriding as lesser-included offense of theft; and (4) that the trial court should have issued a special instruction on when a “taking” occurred by including additional language from State v. Swift, 308 S.W.3d 827 (Tenn. 2010). Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Randy Jackson
W2015-02021-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Randy Jackson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and attempt to commit aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-402 (2014), 39-12-101 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to consecutive terms of eleven years for aggravated robbery and nine years for attempted aggravated robbery, for an effective twenty-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Justin Tyler
W2015-00161-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The defendant, Justin Tyler, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to twenty-five years and ten years, respectively, to be served consecutively in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in admitting the video of the victim's forensic interview, (2) the prosecutor committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument, and (3) the cumulative effect of the errors warrants reversal. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Alexander Carney - Dissenting
W2015-01265-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the appeal should be dismissed. However, when the issue is addressed on its merits, the convictions should be affirmed. The trial court found that Defendant was not wearing his seatbelt, which was a violation of the law, and that fact gave the trooper legal grounds to stop Defendant. By the limited issue in the certified question of law, Defendant (who presumably drafted the certified question) challenged only the stop and seizure of his vehicle on the ground that he was driving without wearing his seatbelt. The State could have insisted that the certified question include the issue relied upon by the majority in order to justify the seizure of the drug evidence, but did not. Thus, neither the State nor this court can go beyond the precise issue presented. The appellate court is “limited to consideration of the question preserved.” State v. Day, 263 S.W.3d 891, 900 (Tenn. 2008).

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Alexander Carney
W2015-01265-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, Alexander K. Carney, pled guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court to possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, for which he received an effective sentence of five years in the Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to his sentence for a conviction in a separate case. As a condition of his guilty plea, the defendant attempted to reserve a certified question of law regarding the legality of the traffic stop that led to the discovery of the drugs. Because we agree with the State that the certified question of law is not dispositive of the case, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Nicholas Grace
W2015-01177-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendant, Nicholas Grace, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-402. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Duvil Lunsford
W2014-01926-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Nathan B. Pride

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Ricky Duvil Lunsford, of attempted voluntary manslaughter and employing a deadly weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it: (1) failed to properly instruct the jury; (2) excluded an email from the Defendant to the victim about the decline of their marriage; (3) prevented the Defendant from testifying about the victim's prior aggressive tendencies; and (4) excluded evidence of the victim's prior domestic assault charge. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury as to self-defense. We reverse the judgments of conviction and remand for a new trial.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
Kevin Anthony Dickson Junior v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01443-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

Petitioner, Kevin Anthony Dickson Junior, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner's primary contention is that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because he is a sovereign citizen who is not subject to the laws of the State of Tennessee, though he also includes an allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel as well as other alleged constitutional violations. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
Tiffany Amos v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01727-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The petitioner, Tiffany Amos, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from her theft and criminal impersonation convictions, arguing that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/28/16
Lona Parker v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02233-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Lona Parker, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/28/16
Alonza Grace v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01392-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

The petitioner, Alonza Grace, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief, arguing that his guilty plea was not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered because he was under the influence of prescription medication. He further contends that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request a forensic evaluation to determine his competency and in failing to investigate alleged missing evidence. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/28/16
Paul David Childs v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00994-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, Paul David Childs, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel.  Specifically, the Petitioner alleges that trial counsel was ineffective (1) for failing to “adequately inform” the Petitioner about “his rights regarding a preliminary hearing” and failing to request a preliminary hearing; (2) for failing to impeach the victim with an alleged prior inconsistent statement; (3) for preventing the Petitioner from testifying at trial; (4) for failing to sufficiently prepare for the trial, failing to present any witnesses at trial, and pursuing a “highly questionable” trial strategy; and (5) for advising the Petitioner to waive his right to appeal his conviction.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/28/16
Dalton B. Lister v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01325-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Mark Freiberg

The Petitioner, Dalton B. Lister, appeals the Bradley County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree felony murder, attempt to commit aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and his effective life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the State destroyed evidence, withheld exculpatory evidence, and concealed the existence of an agreement with a codefendant, and that the cumulative effect of the misconduct deprived him of his constitutional right to a fair trial. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/16
Saidrick T. Pewitte v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00883-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The petitioner, Saidrick T. Pewitte, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/16