Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/25/2017
Format: 04/25/2017
State of Tennessee v. Mark Oden Potts
M2016-02079-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Mark Oden Potts, pled guilty to various drug-related offenses.  He received an effective sentence of eight years as a standard offender.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court abused its discretion by denying an alternative sentence of probation or community corrections.  After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/17
David Andrew Oliver v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02244-CCA-R3-PC
The Petitioner, David Andrew Oliver, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction
relief in which he challenged his rape of a child conviction and twenty-five
year prison sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied his right to
the effective assistance of counsel, arguing that trial counsel should have advised him to
testify at trial. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/17
Suzanne Bishop West v. Epiphany Salon & Day Spa, LLC
E2016-01860-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a jury award of damages in a negligence case. Suzanne Bishop West (“West”) sued Epiphany Salon & Day Spa, LLC (“Epiphany”) in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”) for damages resulting from a facial she received that burned her face. Epiphany conceded liability and the matter went before a jury for a determination of damages. The jury awarded West $125,000 in damages. Epiphany filed a motion for remittitur. The Trial Court, finding the award excessive, reduced the award from $125,000 to $47,800. West appeals to this Court, asking that we restore the original jury award of $125,000. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 04/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Johnathan Robert Leonard
M2016-00269-CCA-R3-CD

Johnathan Robert Leonard (“the Defendant”) appeals his Marshall County convictions for three counts of rape of a child, two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of aggravated sexual battery, for which he received an effective sentence of ninety-six years.  The Defendant asserts that he was denied due process and a fair trial based on numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct and that the cumulative effect of “irregularities” during voir dire and jury selection resulted in structural constitutional error, necessitating a new trial.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Maurice Marlin
M2016-01376-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Gregory Maurice Marlin, was convicted of evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle, evading arrest on foot, and operating a motor vehicle while declared a habitual traffic offender.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a standard offender to two years for the evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle conviction, eleven months and twenty-nine days for the evading arrest on foot conviction, and two years for the operating a motor vehicle while declared a habitual offender conviction, all to be served consecutively to each other.  After the sentencing hearing, the trial court amended the sentence and merged the evading arrest on foot conviction with the evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle conviction, for an effective sentence of four years in prison.  The Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
M.H.L. ET AL. v. BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF GREATER KINGSPORT, INC., ET AL.
E2017-00024-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiffs, Michael Lambert and Pamela Lambert, on behalf of themselves and their minor child, M.H.L. (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), seek to appeal from an order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant, City of Kingsport, Tennessee (“the City”), on Plaintiffs’ claims against the City in this negligence case arising out of injuries sustained by the minor plaintiff while participating in a youth basketball program. In their complaint, Plaintiffs asserted claims against not only the City, the entity who ran the youth basketball program, but also against the defendant, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, Inc. (“the Boys and Girls Club”), which owned and managed the property used by the youth basketball program. The order from which Plaintiffs seek to appeal resolves only the claim against the City, leaving unresolved the claim against the Boys and Girls Club. As a result, we lack jurisdiction to consider this appeal. The appeal is dismissed without prejudice to the filing of a new appeal once a final judgment has been entered

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 04/24/17
Trina A. Henson v. Chris Robert Henson
M2016-01661-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a final decree of divorce. The trial court declared the parties divorced, divided the marital property and marital debt, and ordered Husband to pay rehabilitative alimony of $2,500.00 per month for three years, and an award of $20,000.00 for attorney’s fees, as alimony in solido. On appeal, Husband contends that the trial court erred in: (1) its division of the marital debt; (2) its award of rehabilitative alimony; and (3) its award of attorney’s fees. Wife requests attorney’s fees incurred in defending this appeal. We affirm the trial court’s judgment and remand for determination of Wife’s attorney’s fees on appeal.
 

Robertson County Court of Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Justin Ray Lane
E2016-01756-CCA-R3-CD
A Sullivan County jury convicted the defendant, Justin Ray Lane, of four separate felony
offenses for his participation in a controlled drug buy of heroin and cocaine within one
thousand feet of a school. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting his convictions arguing the State failed to prove he authored the text
messages which established the details of the illegal transaction. Additionally, and for
the same reason, the defendant argues photographs of the text messages establishing the
drug deal were not properly authenticated at trial. Finally, the defendant contends the
trial court prejudiced the jury by including the preamble to the Drug-Free School Zone
Act in its charge. After reviewing the record, submissions of the parties, and pertinent
authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
Josh L. Bowman v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01028-CCA-R3-PC
The Petitioner, Josh L. Bowman, was convicted by a jury of three counts of first degree
felony murder, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of especially
aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a
firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. After the verdict, the Petitioner
pled guilty to one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous
felony when he had previously been convicted of a felony. The trial court merged the
murder convictions, merged the burglary convictions, and merged the firearms
convictions. This court on appeal reversed the especially aggravated kidnapping
conviction and remanded for a new trial, affirming all other judgments. See State v. Josh
L. Bowman, No. E2012-00923-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 4680402, at *3 (Tenn. Crim.
App. Aug. 29, 2013), overruled in part by State v. Teats, 468 S.W.3d 495 (Tenn. 2015).
The Petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, alleging that his trial counsel was
deficient in allowing him to enter a guilty plea to the firearms offense and deficient in
failing to object to the racial composition of the jury venire. The post-conviction court
granted relief on the firearms conviction, finding that the Petitioner did not have a
qualifying prior “dangerous felony” and dismissing the charge. The post-conviction
court found that the Petitioner could not show deficiency or prejudice on the jury issue.
Both parties filed notices of appeal in this court. The State asserts that the postconviction
court misinterpreted Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324 (2008) in
granting relief and argues that the prior felony need not be a dangerous felony according
to statute. The Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to relief from all his convictions based
on the jury composition. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the postconviction
court’s judgment. We remand for the post-conviction court to enter judgment
on the merged conviction which survives the dismissal of the firearms offense.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Thomas R. Davis
E2016-01622-CCA-R3-CD
A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Thomas R. Davis, of simple possession of
a controlled substance; simple possession of a controlled substance, third offense; and
misdemeanor evading arrest. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced
the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days each for simple possession of a
controlled substance and evading arrest and one year for simple possession of a
controlled substance, third offense. The trial court merged the drug convictions and
ordered the Defendant to serve his sentences concurrently, for an effective sentence of
one year. On appeal, the Defendant contends that due to an amendment to Tennessee
Code Annotated section 39-17-418(e) that went into effect prior to the sentencing
hearing, he did not qualify for enhanced punishment for simple possession of a controlled
substance based on prior convictions. We conclude that the amendment to Tennessee
Code Annotated section 39-17-418(e) controls and that, as a result, the Defendant did not
qualify for enhancement punishment for his simple possession conviction based on his
prior convictions. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are reversed in part and
affirmed in part. The Defendant’s conviction for simple possession of a controlled
substance as a Class E felony as reflected in the judgment for count 12 is dismissed, and
the case is remanded to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment reflecting the
$2,500 fine imposed by the jury in count 11 and for further proceedings in accordance
with this opinion.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/17
Volodymyr Helyukh, et al. v. Buddy Head Livestock & Trucking, Inc., et al.
W2015-01354-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiffs appeal the grant of summary judgment in a negligence case. One of the plaintiffs, a truck driver, suffered injuries stemming from a collision with another tractor-trailer owned by the defendant and operated by its employee. The plaintiffs claimed that the employee's negligence proximately caused the accident. The owner of the overturned tractor-trailer moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiffs could not establish that its employee‟s conduct fell below the applicable standard of care. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue, among other things, that owner of the overturned tractor-trailed failed to meet its burden of production in moving for summary judgment. Because we conclude that the movant failed to demonstrate the absence of material facts that would create genuine issues for trial, we reverse the grant of summary judgment.

Henderson County Court of Appeals 04/24/17
DONALD RAY BROWN v. ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY
E2016-00237-SC-R3-WC

Donald Brown (“Employee”) filed this action, alleging that he sustained a compensable heart attack while working for Grand Eagle Company (“Employer”).[1]  After a hearing on the merits, the trial court found that Employee had failed to satisfy his burden of proof that the heart attack was caused by an acute, immediate, stressful event.  Judgment was entered for Employer.  Employee timely filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court, and the appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51.  We affirm the judgment.



[1]Grand Eagle Company went out of business before the trial.  Therefore, suit was brought against its insurer, Zurich American Insurance Company, in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-102(11) (1999).

Sevier County Workers Compensation Panel 04/21/17
Myron Lorenzo Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01361-CCA-R3-PC

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Myron Lorenzo Johnson, of first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  The trial court merged the convictions for first degree premeditated murder and felony murder and ordered an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus sixty years.  On appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court’s judgments.  See State v. Myron Lorenzo Johnson, No. M2008-02198-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 521028, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 12, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2010).  The Petitioner then filed a post-conviction petition in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
David Turner, et al. v. Karl Kendrick, et al. v. Danny Anderson, et al
M2016-00884-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the dismissal of a third-party complaint, which was filed two years after the third-party plaintiffs filed its answer to the original complaint. The trial court found that the third-party plaintiffs failed to seek leave of the court to join the third-party defendants as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 14.01. The trial court also determined that the third-party plaintiffs failed to state a claim which would support the trial court granting leave to file a third-party complaint, and, accordingly, dismissed the Appellants’ third-party complaint. The third-party plaintiffs appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.  

Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/21/17
State of Tennessee v. David G. Jenkins
M2016-00270-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, David G. Jenkins, appeals his conviction of first degree premeditated murder for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in admitting post-mortem photographs of the victim; (3) the trial court improperly commented on the evidence in front of the jury; (4) the trial court erred in limiting defense counsel’s cross-examination of a witness; (5) the trial court erred in its rulings on various hearsay evidence; (6) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s request to give his own closing argument to the jury; and (7) reversal is warranted due to the cumulative effect of the errors.  Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
Brunswick L. Robinson v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02429-CCA-R3-HC
The pro se petitioner, Brunswick L. Robinson, appeals the denial of his petition for writ
of habeas corpus by the Johnson County Criminal Court, arguing the trial court erred in
summarily dismissing the petition as his sentence has expired. After our review, we
affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the
Court of Criminal Appeals.
Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
Roderick McAlpin v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01482-CCA-R3-PC
The petitioner, Roderick McAlpin, 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.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Allen Mills, Jr.
E2016-01118-CCA-R3-CD
The pro se defendant, Maurice Allen Mills, Jr., appeals as of right from the Knox County
Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1
(“Rule 36.1”) motion to correct an illegal sentence. The defendant contends his motion
stated a colorable claim for relief, so the trial court erred in summarily denying it.
Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/17
Peggy Patterson v. Shane Patterson
M2016-00886-COA-R3-CV

Stepmother filed a detainer warrant against Stepson and was awarded possession of the real property in the general sessions court. Stepson appealed to the circuit court, and a bench trial was conducted. The trial court awarded the property to Stepmother. We affirm the trial court’s finding that no resulting trust was proven. Although we affirm the trial court’s finding of unjust enrichment for the improvements on land based on the three-part test under Freeman Indus., LLC v. Eastman Chem. Co., 172 S.W.3d 512, 525 (Tenn. 2005), we reverse the trial court’s award of $37,000.00 to Stepson for the improvements to the property because Stepson failed to prove the correct measure of damages at trial. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Cannon County Court of Appeals 04/20/17
State of Tennessee v. Teena Marie Bright
M2016-01873-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Teena Marie Bright, pleaded guilty to possession of .5 gram or more of a methamphetamine with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver.  Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eight years as a Range I, standard offender.  The sentence was suspended to supervised probation after 158 days in confinement.  A violation of probation warrant was subsequently issued, and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered service of the balance of the sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals the trial court’s order that she serve her sentence in confinement.  We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/17
State of Tennessee v. Darryl Wilkins Burton
M2016-00690-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Darryl Wilkins Burton, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI) in exchange for a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served on probation after the service of forty-eight hours in the Williamson County jail.  The Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the denial of his motion to suppress, which was based upon an unconstitutional seizure.  Because the Defendant failed to properly reserve the certified question, we dismiss the appeal.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/17
George M. Greenwood, et al. v. City of Lebanon, Tennessee
M2016-01168-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiffs entered into a contract signed by the commissioner of finance for the City of Lebanon to act as the City’s insurance broker for health care benefits. The plaintiffs secured a group health care benefit contract for the City for the period from July 1, 2013 through July 1, 2014. In February 2014, the City informed the plaintiffs that it had appointed another broker and refused to pay the monthly service fees for the remaining months of the contract. The City asserted that the contract was ultra vires because it was not signed by the mayor or approved by ordinance enacted by the city council as required by the City’s charter. The trial court found the contract to be ultra vires, but determined that the City “should be equitably estopped from denying the validity of the agreement” and granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.  

Wilson County Court of Appeals 04/19/17
In Re: Lorenda B.
M2016-01841-COA-R3-PT

This appeal concerns the termination of a mother’s parental rights to her minor child. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Davidson County (“the Juvenile Court”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Judith B. (“Mother”) to her minor child Lorenda B. (“the Child”). Mother has alleged throughout this case that there is a satanic conspiracy against her and that the Child is at risk of having her organs harvested for trafficking purposes. After a trial, the Juvenile Court terminated Mother’s parental rights. Mother appeals to this Court. We affirm the grounds of substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan and mental incompetence, but we reverse the grounds of willful failure to support and persistence of conditions. We also affirm the Juvenile Court’s finding that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the Child’s best interest. We affirm, in part, and reverse, in part, the judgment of the Juvenile Court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/19/17
State of Tennessee v. Tazarius Jay Vond Leach
M2015-01866-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Tazarius Jay Vond Leach, of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of carjacking.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of fifteen years.  On appeal, the Appellant argues that the State’s providing “a hypothetical using the facts of the case” to explain criminal responsibility during voir dire violated his right to a fair trial and impartial jury.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Dean Hodges
M2014-01544-CCA-R3-CD

The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Appellant, Michael Dean Hodges, of aggravated child abuse in counts one through three and aggravated child neglect in count four.  After a jury trial, the Appellant was acquitted in count one but convicted as charged in counts two and three and convicted of knowing aggravated assault as a lesser-included offense of aggravated child neglect in count four.  The trial court merged the aggravated assault conviction into the aggravated child abuse convictions and sentenced the Appellant to an effective twenty-five-years in confinement to be served at 100%.  On appeal, the Appellant claimed that the trial court erred by failing to sever the charge of aggravated child abuse in count one from the remaining two counts of aggravated child abuse; that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to hear a portion of his statement in which he admitted to prior bad acts; that the trial court erred by giving the jury a supplemental instruction on “knowingly” that failed to include language about non-accidental conduct; and that cumulative error warranted a new trial.  This court concluded that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to hear that the Appellant had been “in trouble” previously but that the error was harmless; however, we concluded that the Appellant’s conviction of aggravated assault had to be reversed because knowing aggravated assault was not a lesser-included offense of aggravated child neglect.  The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the Appellant’s application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the court’s recent opinion in State v. Howard, 504 S.W.3d 260 (Tenn. 2016), regarding lesser-included offenses.  Upon reconsideration, we again conclude that knowing aggravated assault is not a lesser-included offense of aggravated child neglect as charged in this case and modify the conviction to reckless endangerment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/17