Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/23/2018
Format: 07/23/2018
State of Tennessee v. Elijajuan Smith
E2017-01086-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

The Defendant, Elijajuan Smith, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation for his burglary of a business and vandalism convictions and ordering him to serve his effective four-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Larry Eugene Haynes
E2017-01849-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

The Defendant, Larry Eugene Haynes, appeals the Sevier County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation for his forgery and misdemeanor theft convictions and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective six-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering his sentence into execution. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Leonard Ross
E2017-02087-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

The Defendant, Leonard Ross, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence for his 1993 convictions for especially aggravated robbery, attempted second degree murder, and burglary and his effective thirty-five-year sentence. The Defendant contends that the trial court court erred by summarily dismissing his motion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Mainor Celin Avilez Canales
E2017-01222-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

The Defendant, Mainor Celin Avilez Canales, was convicted after a jury trial of aggravated sexual battery and sentenced to serve twelve years in prison. The Defendant appeals, contending that the jury instructions did not adequately specify the mens rea of the offense and that the trial court improperly enhanced the sentence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Fred E. Smith, Jr.
M2017-01360-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

Defendant, Fred E. Smith, Jr., is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/18
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Thidor Cross
E2017-00572-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The State of Tennessee appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s imposition of an eleven months, twenty-nine days’ confinement at 75% service for theft of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1000. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103 (2014) (theft); 39-14-105 (2014) (amended 2017) (grading of theft). On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred by sentencing the Defendant pursuant to the amended version of the grading of theft statute that became effective after the commission of the offense. However, we have concluded that this court lacks jurisdiction to consider the issue because no appeal of right lies for the State pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3 or Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-402. As a result, we dismiss the appeal.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/18
State of Tennessee v. Andrew Young Johnson
E2017-00756-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The petitioner, Andrew Young Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition challenged his 1998 convictions of attempted first degree murder and felony reckless endangerment. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of coram nobis relief.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/18
State of Tennessee v. Mark D. Moraca, Alias
E2017-01536-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The petitioner, Mark D. Moraca, appeals the denial of his motion to expunge the records of his 1994 convictions for simple possession of amphetamine and simple possession of cocaine. Discerning no error, we affirm.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/18
State of Tennessee v. Jenaline N. Fisher
M2017-02223-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Appellant, Jenaline Fisher, is appealing the trial court’s denial of her 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 05/01/18
Montez Maxwell v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01012-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Petitioner, Montez Maxwell, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief alleging he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Petitioner entered guilty pleas to attempted second degree murder and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he received an effective sentence of sixteen years. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the postconviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/18
Isaiah Higgs v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00708-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn I. Wright

The Petitioner, Isaiah Higgs, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s order denying his petition for writ of error coram nobis. We affirm the coram nobis court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/18
Demond Hughes Gunn v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01548-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The pro se Petitioner, Demond Hughes Gunn, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/18
Melvin Braison v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00297-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Petitioner, Melvin Braison, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and his guilty pleas were therefore unknowing and involuntary. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael John Stitts
W2017-00209-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Michael John Stitts, was convicted by a Madison County jury of attempted first degree premeditated murder, aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and he received an effective sentence of sixty-one years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements made to police; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the State to amend the indictment to reflect the proper offense date; (4) he is entitled to reversal based on juror bias; (5) the trial court erred in placing the Defendant in restraints immediately before the jury verdict was read, and (6) the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range III offender and in imposing partial consecutive sentences. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment to reflect the proper sentencing range for the attempted first degree murder conviction.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/18
State of Tennessee v. Donald Clark
W2017-01901-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Over eighteen years ago, Defendant, Donald Clark, shot and robbed a man in Shelby County. After conviction, he received a 27-year sentence, as a violent offender. He now appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After careful consideration, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/18
Norma Barnett v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01521-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Norma Barnett, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Madison County Circuit Court. In this appeal, she argues that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was involuntary and unknowing. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/18
Jeffrey Scott v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00392-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Petitioner, Jeffrey Scott, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he challenged his conviction for second degree murder and resulting twenty-five-year sentence. The Petitioner maintains that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael James Amble
E2016-02495-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Pemberton

Defendant, Michael James Amble, was indicted by the Loudon County Grand Jury on one count each of DUI; DUI, multiple offenses; refusal of implied consent; driving while license cancelled, suspended, or revoked; possession of drug paraphernalia; speeding; and registration violation. Following a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of DUI and driving on a suspended license, and the jury found him not guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia. Following a bifurcated hearing, the jury found Defendant guilty of second offense DUI. The trial court found that Defendant violated the implied consent law, and the remaining offenses were dismissed on motion of the State. Following a sentencing hearing, Defendant was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days with all but 45 days suspended. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the trial court erred by not granting his motion for judgment of acquittal with respect to the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia; and 2) that the evidence at trial was insufficient to sustain his conviction for DUI. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Loudon County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/18
State of Tennessee v. William Lewis Reynolds
M2017-01857-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

The Defendant, William Lewis Reynolds, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 in which he challenged his guilty-pled conviction for the sale of cocaine and resulting sentence of twelve years as a Range III, persistent offender, at 60%. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand the judgment to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment reflecting the convicted offense of sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/18
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Davis
M2017-01499-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Appellant, Jonathan Davis, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, and the Maury County Circuit Court summarily denied the motion. On appeal, the Appellant contends that his sentences for his first degree felony murder convictions are illegal because the trial court ordered consecutive sentencing after the judgments of conviction became final and that the sentences for all of his convictions are illegal because the trial court failed to award pretrial jail credits. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the Maury County Circuit Court’s denial of the motion.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/27/18
Miguel Saenz v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02590-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Appellant, Miguel Saenz, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis seeking relief from his previously entered guilty plea. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, and upon application of the ruling of our Supreme Court in Frazier v. State, 495 S.W.3d 246 (Tenn. 2016), we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/26/18
State of Tennessee v. Andre Anthony
W2016-02347-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Appellant, Andre Anthony, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/26/18
Marquez Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01175-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The petitioner, Marquez Williams, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/26/18
State of Tennessee v. Rickey Williams
W2017-01889-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Rickey Williams, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his “Ex Parte Injunction and/or Show Cause Order.” On appeal, the petitioner contends the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his motion “because his conviction is voidable.” The State contends the petitioner’s appeal is not properly before this Court and, despite the lack of jurisdiction, the petitioner is not entitled to relief on the merits of his claim. Upon review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/26/18
Kedrick Carwell v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01899-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Kedrick Carwell, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. Within the context of his post-conviction claims, the petitioner attempts to challenge the jury instructions recited at trial, claiming the instructions led to a nonunanimous verdict. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition and conclude the petitioner has waived any challenge to the jury instructions or verdict.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/26/18