Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/09/2016
Format: 12/09/2016
State of Tennessee v. Leo H. Odom
M2016-00523-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Leo H. Odom, 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.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Tony Ladd Meeks
M2016-00285-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Tony Ladd Meeks, is appealing the trial court’s order dismissing 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.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/16
In Re: La'Trianna W.
E2016-01322-COA-R3-PT

This appeal involves the termination of a father's parental rights to his minor child. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of his rights on the statutory ground of mental incompetence. The court further found that termination was in the best interest of the child. The father appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/09/16
Jeremy David Parvin v. Jackie LaDean Newman
E2016-00549-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce action, the husband filed a complaint alleging abuse of process on the part of the wife during the divorce proceedings. He asserted that prior to the parties' stipulation to grounds for divorce and presentation of a settlement agreement, subsequently adopted by the trial court in a final divorce judgment, the wife had filed a motion for contempt against him with the intent to harass him, cause him to incur unnecessary expense, and “weaken his resolve” to litigate for more favorable terms. The wife filed a motion to dismiss this action, which the trial court treated as a motion for summary judgment because the wife had requested that the court consider the record of the divorce proceedings. Following a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the wife upon finding, inter alia, that the husband's complaint was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Upon the wife's subsequent motion, the trial court imposed a sanction against the husband's counsel, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 11.02, in the amount of $9,745.25, comprising the wife's reasonable attorney's fees and expenses incurred in defending against this action. The husband appeals. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm. We deny the wife's request for attorney's fees on appeal.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Odom
M2015-02040-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jeffrey Odom, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 due to the Defendant’s failure to appear at the scheduled hearing.  Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/16
Sheddrick Harris v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01573-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Sheddrick Harris, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 2010 first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery convictions and his effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole plus sixty years. The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by denying relief because the trial court judge was without jurisdiction to preside over his trial after signing the search warrant executed by the police. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/16
Jeremy David Parvin v. Jackie Ladean Parvin - dissenting in part
E2016-00549-COA-R3-CV

I fully concur in the majority's opinion with one exception—I would grant Wife's request for attorney's fees on appeal. I respectfully dissent on this one issue.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/09/16
Mark W. Lovett v. Frank Lynch, et al.
M2016-00680-COA-R3-CV

Appellant, the first, but not the highest nor successful bidder on a piece of real property in a delinquent tax property sale, filed a quo warranto action alleging that the tax sale was conducted illegally. The trial court dismissed appellant’s suit for lack of standing because the property at issue had been redeemed by an individual with a mortgage on the property. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Franklin County Court of Appeals 12/08/16
Valerie Miller v. Jackson-Madison County General Hospital District, et al.
W2016-01170-COA-R3-CV

This is a case, brought pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, involving a plaintiff who was injured when she slipped and fell in a municipal hospital owned and operated by the defendant. The plaintiff alleged that she suffered injuries after slipping in water that was on the hospital's floor. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that the defendant had no actual or constructive notice of the water and entered judgment in its favor. The plaintiff appealed. We affirm.

Madison County Court of Appeals 12/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Patterson aka John O'Keefe Varner aka John O'Keefe Kitchen
M2015-02375-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Kevin Patterson aka John O’Keefe Varner aka John O’Keefe Kitchen, appeals his Coffee County Circuit Court jury convictions of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, claiming that the trial court erred by refusing to sequester the jury, that the trial court should not have seated potential jurors who had served on the petit jury in a recent criminal trial, that the prosecutor’s closing argument was improper, and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of attempted second degree murder.  Although we detect no error with regard to the defendant’s convictions, we find that the defendant’s sentence of life without the possibility of parole constitutes plain error because the State failed to comply with the notice requirements of Code section 40-35-120.  Accordingly, we affirm all of the defendant’s convictions as well as the five-year sentences imposed for the defendant’s convictions of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  We reverse the trial court’s finding that the defendant was a repeat violent offender, vacate the sentence of life without the possibility of parole, and remand the case for resentencing within the appropriate sentencing range on the defendant’s conviction of attempted second degree murder.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Patterson aka John O'Keefe Varner aka John O'Keefe Kitchen-Concurring in part and dissenting in part
M2015-02375-CCA-R3-CD

I agree with the majority opinion’s conclusions with respect to the issues raised by Defendant in his direct appeal.  I respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by the majority as it relates to section V of the opinion.  I am unable to agree with the statement that the trial court committed an error that breached a clear and unequivocal rule of law in sentencing Defendant to life without the possibility of parole pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-120.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Patterson aka John O'Keefe Varner aka John O'Keefe Kitchen-Concurring
M2015-02375-CCA-R3-CD

I concur with the lead opinion.  I write separately because I am sympathetic to the common sense approach that Judge Easter uses in the separate opinion (dissenting in part) to determine that the pre-trial notice substantially complied with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-120.  After all, the violent nature of the prior offenses, second degree murder and facilitation of second degree murder, should be obvious, and who knows better than the Defendant that there were separate periods of incarceration, even if the Defendant does not know the dates of those periods.  An argument could also be made that a reasonable statutory interpretation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-120(i)(2) is that “shall” is mandatory as it relates to “[t]he district attorney general[’s] fil[ing] a statement with the court,” but “shall” is “merely directory” as it relates to “set[ting] forth the dates of the prior periods of incarceration, as well as the nature of the prior conviction offenses.”  See Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-120(i)(2); Myers v. AMISUB (SFH), Inc., 382 S.W.3d 300, 309 (Tenn. 2012).  In Myers v. AMISUB (SFH), Inc., our supreme court stated: “To determine whether the use of the word ‘shall’ in a statute is mandatory or merely directory, we look to see ‘whether the prescribed mode of action is of the essence of the thing to be accomplished.’”  Id. (citing 3 Norman J. Singer & J.D. Singer, Statutes and Statutory Construction § 57:2 (7th ed. 2008)); see alsoHoldredge v. City of Cleveland, 218 Tenn. 239, 402 S.W.2d 709, 713 (1966) (“[A] provision relating to the essence of the thing to be done, that is, to matters of substance, is mandatory, and when a fair interpretation of a statute . . . shows that the legislature intended a compliance with such provision to be essential to the validity of the act . . . , the statute must be regarded as mandatory.”).  Arguably, the essence to be accomplished by section 40-35-120(i)(2) is to place a defendant on notice that the state intends to seek to have him found to be a repeat violent offender and thereby face a sentence of life without possibility of parole.  If this statement is correct, then the other requirements are “merely directory” and substantial compliance should be sufficient.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Tristan Delandis Grant
W2016-000941-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Tristan Delandis Grant, was convicted by a Tipton County Circuit Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and theft under $500, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court merged the theft conviction into the aggravated robbery conviction and sentenced the defendant to eight years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Depriest Fuller, Jr.
W2016-00456-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Brandon Depriest Fuller, Jr., was convicted of reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony. The trial court denied his request for judicial diversion and imposed a sentence of three years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying judicial diversion and imposing a sentence of full confinement. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court denying the defendant's request for judicial diversion and imposition of a sentence of confinement.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Leopold Mpawinayo
M2015-00778-CCA-R3-CD

After a bench trial, the trial court found the Defendant, Leopold Mpawinayo, guilty of two counts of violating the habitual motor vehicle offender law and sentenced him to three years for each conviction, ordering that the sentences be served consecutively and on probation.  The Defendant’s probation officer filed an affidavit asserting that the Defendant had violated his probation by being arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and by failing to pay his probation fees and court costs.  The trial court held a hearing and found that the Defendant had violated his probation.  The trial court ordered intensive probation with GPS monitoring.  Shortly thereafter, police arrested the Defendant for four counts of aggravated assault.  The trial court held a hearing and found that the Defendant had again violated his probation.  The trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and sentenced him to serve one year, at 100%, followed by a new six-year period of intensive supervised probation, with additional requirements.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it revoked his probation and when it added additional conditions to his probation.  After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
James Ray Jones, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00922-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, James Ray Jones, Jr., pleaded guilty to possession of over seventy pounds of marijuana in a drug-free school zone and received a sentence of twenty-five years in the Department of Correction.  The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that his guilty plea was not voluntary because the State coerced the Petitioner into accepting the offer by threatening to prosecute his brother.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
Douglas Marshall Mathis v. Bruce Westbrooks, Warden
M2016-01348-CCA-R3-HC

Petitioner, Douglas Marshall Mathis, appeals the summary dismissal of his third petition for habeas corpus relief.  Because Petitioner’s claims have been previously litigated and are not cognizable in a habeas corpus proceeding, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition for habeas corpus relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/07/16
Kathy Hudson v. William T. Hudson
W2015-01519-COA-R3-CV

This is the second appeal of this case. In the first appeal, the Husband appealed the trial court’s valuation of the marital assets and its overall distribution of the marital estate. Appellant Husband now appeals the trial court’s adoption of Appellee Wife’s property survey dividing certain real property. Husband also appeals the trial court’s valuation of a tractor and attachments, which were awarded to Wife in the final decree of divorce. Because Wife’s survey does not comport with the division of real property as set out in the final decree of divorce, the trial court abused its discretion in adopting it. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s order as to the adoption of Wife’s survey. As to the value of the tractor, we conclude that the trial court’s valuation is within the range of values represented by the evidence and affirm this portion of the trial court’s order. Reversed in part, affirmed in part and remanded.

McNairy County Court of Appeals 12/07/16
Samuel Chandler v. Cynthia Perkins Frazier a/k/a Cynthia Edwards
W2016-00960-COA-R3-CV

Appellant appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his complaint to quiet title. Appellant claimed that Appellee’s title was procured by fraud. The trial court denied relief. Because the trial court’s order does not contain sufficient findings and conclusions of law
as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01, we vacate the order and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/07/16
In Re Estate of Ellra Donald Bostic
E2016-00553-COA-R3-CV

Decedent’s sister was appointed as executor of the estate and subsequently filed a will contest complaint regarding a single bequest in the will. The trial court removed sister as executor and appointed an administrator pendente lite. Ultimately, the trial court dismissed sister’s will contest on the basis that the sister was estopped from attacking the will after her appointment as executor. Sister appeals. We affirm the trial court’s ruling with regard to sister’s standing to contest the will. However, we vacate the trial court’s dismissal of sister’s will contest on the basis of estoppel and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 12/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Harold Allen Vaughn
W2016-00131-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Harold Allen Vaughn, and his co-defendants, were indicted by a Madison County Grand Jury for attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, especially aggravated kidnapping, and especially aggravated robbery. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of attempted first degree murder resulting in serious bodily injury, aggravated assault, and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the aggravated assault conviction into the attempted first degree murder conviction and sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of twenty-five years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury that his co-defendant was an accomplice as a matter of law. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand for entry of a judgment form as to count two reflecting that the Defendant‟s aggravated assault conviction was merged with count one.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael Halliburton
W2015-02157-CCA-R3-CD

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Michael Halliburton, as charged of one count of attempted first degree premeditated murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of domestic assault. After imposing a sentence, the trial court granted the defendant's motion for a new trial and entered an order recusing itself from presiding over the new trial. Thereafter, the State filed an application for an extraordinary appeal pursuant to Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, which this court granted. On remand, the defendant was given a new sentencing hearing and a hearing on his motion for new trial. The successor trial court, serving as thirteenth juror, approved the jury's verdict and merged the defendant's convictions for aggravated assault and domestic assault with his attempted first degree murder conviction before imposing a sentence of twenty-one years. The successor court then denied the defendant's motion for new trial. On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions because he was insane at the time he committed the offenses or, alternatively, was incapable of forming the requisite culpable mental states for the offenses; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting several items of evidence; (3) the trial court abused its discretion in granting the State's motion in limine and excluding the testimony of two defense witnesses; and (4) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial on the basis that the rule of sequestration was violated. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/16
Gerald Collins v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00085-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Gerald Collins, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Circuit Court for Gibson County. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was involuntary. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Earl Jones
M2015-01373-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Rodney Earl Jones, of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced him to life for the first degree murder conviction and to twenty years for the especially aggravated robbery conviction, ordering the sentences to be served consecutively. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for severance; (2) the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury about his co-defendant’s out of court statements; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Jamichael Polk Armstrong
M2015-02083-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jamichael Polk Armstrong, was convicted by a Maury County jury of facilitation of sale of cocaine over 0.5 grams in a drug-free school zone and sentenced to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, with the first eight years to be served at one hundred percent release eligibility pursuant to the Drug-Free School Zone Act (hereinafter “the Act”).  On appeal, the Defendant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred by applying the Act to his facilitation conviction.  Following our review, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction but remand for resentencing.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/16