Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 02/26/2017
Format: 02/26/2017
In Re: Estate of Sandra Kay Christian
E2015-02276-COA-R3-CV

In this case involving the Last Will and Testament of Sandra Kay Christian, we construe a provision in her will in order to determine the interests of the parties with respect to real property owned by her. The deceased passed away on November 15, 2012. Her will contains a residuary clause. That clause devises two-fifths of the residue of her estate to Phyllis Midgett, Ms. Christian's sister. The will contains a separate provision that permits the deceased's nephews, John Reuben Christian, III and Ashley Paul Christian (the Nephews), to purchase her residence. The will provides that, in the event the Nephews elect to purchase the property, they will pay the deceased's niece, Regina Christian Dykes (the Niece), an amount that would make her share of the estate equal to theirs. The Nephews expressed their intent to purchase the residence. Ms. Midgett brought this action seeking a declaration that she has a two-fifths interest in the residence property. The trial court found the will provision at issue to be unambiguous. Consequently, the court held that Midgett has no interest in the residence property. The court directed Nephews to pay one-third of the value of the property to the Niece. Midgett appeals. We affirm

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 02/24/17
Daniel Adam Barnes v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00178-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Daniel Adam Barnes, filed in the Cheatham County Circuit Court a petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of violating Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-111 and the accompanying sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. The Petitioner alleged that his counsel was ineffective by failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence on direct appeal. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Charles R. Presley
M2015-01600-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, Charles R. Presley, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and its order that he serve his eight-year sentence for identity theft in confinement. The Appellant contends that the evidence was not sufficient to show that he “was actually on probation, what the probation conditions were, or whether he was advised of his probation conditions.” Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
Mansour Bin El Amin v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00048-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Mansour Bin El Amin, filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. In the petition, the Petitioner alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective. The Petitioner also filed a motion for the post-conviction court to approve funds for a private investigator to locate witnesses for the Petitioner’s case. The post-conviction court denied the petition and the motion, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
Michael Holley, et al v. Bethany Holley Ortiz
M2015-01432-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a mother’s petition to modify an agreed order granting custody of her two minor children to their maternal grandparents. The trial court determined that the mother was entitled to invoke the doctrine of superior parental rights because it concluded that the previous order was a temporary custody order. The court then awarded the mother custody of her children. The grandparents seek review of the trial court’s decision, first, to deny the grandparent’s request for a continuance to secure new counsel and, second, to allow the mother a presumption of superior parental rights. While we disagree that the presumption of superior parental rights applied, we conclude that Mother still demonstrated a material change in circumstances and that a change in custody was in the children’s best interests. We also conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the grandparents’ motion to continue. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Giles County Court of Appeals 02/24/17
Bobby McBee v. CSX Transportation, Inc.
W2015-01253-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a negligence action filed by the plaintiff employee in June 2010, pursuant to the Federal Employer Liability Act ("FELA"), see 45 U.S.C. §§ 51-60 (2012), against his former employer, the defendant railroad. The employee, who had worked for the railroad for thirty-nine years in a variety of positions, alleged that he suffered bilateral rotator cuff tears as a result of the railroad‘s negligence in failing to provide him with proper equipment while he worked as a foreman flagman from January 2007 through March 2009. In February 2012, the railroad filed a motion for summary judgment based on the three-year statute of limitations provided in 45 U.S.C. § 56. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion in April 2012 but stated that it would reconsider if presented with additional evidence. The railroad subsequently filed additional motions for summary judgment in January 2014, reasserting the statute-of-limitations defense and asserting that the employee could not prove his claim due to an alleged lack of expert testimony regarding medical causation and an alleged inability to demonstrate the railroad‘s liability through expert testimony. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motions for summary judgment as to the statute of limitations and medical causation. The court, however, granted summary judgment in favor of the railroad based on the employee‘s lack of expert testimony regarding liability. The employee has appealed the judgment, and the railroad has raised an issue regarding the statute of limitations. Having determined that under the circumstances of this action, the employee presented evidence that created a material factual dispute as to whether the railroad negligently contributed to his injuries, we reverse the trial court‘s grant of summary judgment. We affirm the trial court‘s judgment in all other respects.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/24/17
State of Tennessee v. David Banks
W2016-00173-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the Defendant, David Banks, of attempted rape of a child, a Class B felony; two counts of aggravated sexual battery, Class B felonies; and one count of child abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, for crimes he committed against two child victims. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the evidence is insufficient to support the verdicts. The Defendant also asserts that the trial court erred in refusing to permit an employee of the Department of Children's Services (“DCS”) to testify regarding a note she had written which stated that one of the victims had manifested behavioral issues, including lying. Because the evidence was sufficient to allow a rational trier of fact to convict the Defendant and because there was no error in the exclusion of the evidence, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Allen
W2016-00505-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Christopher Allen, entered a guilty plea to one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, with sentencing to be determined by the trial court. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court found that the Defendant was a Range I standard offender and imposed a five-year prison sentence to be served consecutively with a prior eleven-month and twenty-nine-day sentence. The trial court also required the Defendant to pay restitution to his victim. The Defendant appeals the trial court's denial of alternative sentencing. We conclude that the trial court did not err in sentencing the Defendant to a term of imprisonment. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
Cedric Mims v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00418-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Cedric Mims, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions of felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and attempted voluntary manslaughter and his effective sentence of life in prison. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel. We affirm the post-conviction court's denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Bostick
W2016-00573-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Christopher Bostick, was found guilty by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-15-522 (2014), 39-13-504 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to consecutive terms of twenty-five years for rape of a child and nine years for aggravated sexual battery, for an effective sentence of thirty-four years at 100% service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred by limiting his cross-examination of the victim’s sister and the forensic interviewer. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
Charles McMahon, et al. v. James Freels
W2015-01557-COA-R3-CV

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Gregory D. Valentine, Sr. v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00854-CCA-R3-PC

Gregory D. Valentine, Sr., (“the Petitioner”) entered a “best interest” plea to twenty counts of identity theft, six counts of criminal simulation, and one count each of forgery, theft of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000, and money laundering. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of twelve years and eight months; he was ordered to serve thirty-two months with a seventy-five percent release eligibility in the county jail and ten years with a thirty percent release eligibility on probation. The Petitioner filed three pro se motions to set aside his guilty pleas, which the trial court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the motions to set aside the Petitioner’s guilty pleas. On remand, the trial court denied the Petitioner’s motions. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the trial court’s denial. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed the denial, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. After this court remanded this case, the Petitioner filed a motion to recuse, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on the Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying post-conviction relief and by denying his motion to recuse. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/17
James J. Bogner, II v. Vanderbilt University
M2015-00669-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a judgment entered on a jury verdict in favor of the defendant in a health care liability action. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant hospital for medical malpractice, medical battery, and lack of informed consent. The trial court granted a partial directed verdict in favor of the defendant after the plaintiff presented evidence. At the close of all the proof, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a directed verdict on the remaining issues of medical battery and informed consent. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in denying the motion for a directed verdict, in refusing to adopt the plaintiff’s special jury instructions, and in using a confusing special verdict form. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Joseph O'Shields, et al. v. City of Memphis, et al.
W2016-01172-COA-R3-CV

The issue on appeal in this case is whether the City of Memphis unlawfully assessed a tax on real property located in a newly annexed area of the city in 2012. The plaintiffs are property owners in the annexed area who argue that the city had no authority to assess property taxes in the area for 2012 because its annexation of the area took effect after January 1, 2012. The trial court concluded that the tax was lawful because the City’s annexation of the area took effect before January 1, 2012 and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Davina Ruth Hart v. Gabriel Carse Hart
W2016-01616-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce proceeding, father appeals the trial court’s reduction of his parenting time. We reverse the trial court’s reduction of father’s parenting time because the evidence does not support the trial court’s modification of the parenting plan and reinstate the previous parenting plan.

Madison County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Larry D. Patton, et al. v. Shelby County Government, et al.
W2016-00970-COA-R3-CV

In 2014, the plaintiffs filed this claim against several defendants pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act due to the recording of a forged deed in 2009. The circuit court dismissed the lawsuit based on the GTLA’s one-year statute of limitations. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/23/17
Christopher D. Hodge v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00892-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Christopher D. Hodge, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition requesting DNA analysis of evidence pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/17
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Gaines
W2016-01262-CCA-R3-CD

The Petitioner, Kenneth Gaines, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Because the motion failed to state a colorable claim for relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/17
Donel Autin, et al. v. William Goetz
W2016-00099-COA-R3-CV

The trial court entered a protective order under Rule 26.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure while the case was ongoing. After the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, the trial court entered an order confirming the dismissal and extending the protective order ―in perpetuity. The defendant did not appeal the final order, but years later filed a motion to modify the protective order. The trial court denied the motion as barred by the doctrine of res judicata. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to extend the protective order after plaintiffs nonsuited their case. As an issue of first impression, we conclude that the trial court retained jurisdiction to extend and modify its previously entered protective order notwithstanding the voluntary dismissal of the underlying action. We further hold that modification of existing protective orders is authorized by the holding in Ballard v. Herzke, 924 S.W.2d 652, 658 (Tenn. 1996); accordingly, we vacate the trial court‘s denial of defendant‘s motion to modify and remand for reconsideration in light of our supreme court‘s established precedent.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
In Re Estate of Gertrude Bible Link
M2015-02280-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a jury trial in a will contest. The jury returned a verdict finding that the contested will was valid. The contestants have appealed, raising numerous issues and arguing that the evidence presented does not support the jury’s verdict. We affirm.    

Marion County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
Omar Ahmad v. Ezad Ahmad
W2015-02148-COA-R3-CV

Because the order appealed does not comply with Rule 58 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, the order is not a final judgment. Consequently, this Court lacks jurisdiction and this matter must be dismissed.

Madison County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Terry Sherrod
M2016-01112-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Terry Sherrod, pled guilty in two separate cases to domestic assault and possession of a Schedule IV drug with the intent to sell or deliver. As a result of the guilty pleas, he received an effective sentence of four years to be served on Community Corrections. Subsequently, an affidavit and warrant were filed alleging Defendant violated the conditions of his sentence. After a hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his original sentence of four years with credit for 580 days. Defendant appeals the revocation. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by determining that Defendant violated the terms of his Community Corrections sentence. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. However, we remand the case for the entry of proper judgment forms for the charges that were dismissed as a result of the guilty plea.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
In Re: Delilah G.
E2016-01107-COA-R3-PT

This is an appeal from an order terminating a mother’s parental rights to her daughter, of whom the Department of Children’s Services acquired custody following a referral of a drug exposed child and two referrals for medical maltreatment and nutritional neglect. The child’s parents were later adjudicated to have committed severe abuse on the child. The Department subsequently petitioned to terminate the parental rights of both parents, and the court granted the petition on the ground of severe child abuse and after holding that termination of the parents’ rights was in the best interest of the child. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Melton Jackson
M2016-01559-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Matthew Melton Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of theft of property valued over $500, and two counts of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years, to be served at 100%. This Court affirmed the Defendant’s sentence on appeal. State v. Matthew Melton Jackson, No. M2001-01999-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 288432, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 7, 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2003). The Defendant then unsuccessfully filed two petitions for post-conviction relief and two petitions for writs of habeas corpus, and this Court affirmed the lower courts’ denial of relief in each regard. The Defendant then filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct his allegedly illegal sentence, which the trial court summarily dismissed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
Alfonso Chalmers v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01500-CCA-R3-ECN

The Petitioner, Alfonso Chalmers, appeals the denial of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his conviction for premeditated first degree murder and resulting sentence of life in prison. The Petitioner filed a petition for the writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered mental health records reveal that he was diagnosed as psychotic and, therefore, unable to be convicted for premeditated first degree murder. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that it was time-barred, was meritless, and raised issues previously determined by this court. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17