Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/11/2016
Format: 12/11/2016
State of Tennessee v. Charles Travis Maples
E2016-00589-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Charles Travis Maples, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of three counts of the sale of cocaine in a drug-free school zone, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/16
In Re Hailey S.
M2016-00387-COA-R3-JV

This appeal arises from an adjudication of dependency and neglect against the father of a child born out of wedlock and a denial of an intervening petition for custody filed by the father’s relatives. The father and intervening petitioners appeal the circuit court’s decision. We affirm.

Macon County Court of Appeals 12/05/16
Franklin Howard v. Tennessee Department of Correction, et al
M2016-00337-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a declaratory judgment action filed by a prisoner to challenge the Tennessee Department of Correction’s manner of applying sentence reduction credits to his consecutive sentences. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Department of Correction upon concluding that it properly calculated the petitioner’s sentences and credits. We affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/05/16
In re Eddie F., et al.
E2016-00547-COA-R3-PT

This appeal involves the termination of a mother's parental rights to her four children by two different fathers. Mother contested the termination, but the fathers ultimately did not. The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that several grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the best interests of the Children. The mother appeals. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court's finding that Mother abandoned her children by failing to provide a suitable home. We also reverse the trial court's finding that Mother failed to substantially comply with the requirements of her permanency plans. However, we conclude that there is clear and convincing evidence to support the other grounds for termination relied upon by the trial court and that the termination of Mother's parental rights is in the Children's best interest.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 12/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Jonathon D. Brown
M2015-02457-CCA-R3-CD

Jonathon D. Brown (“the Defendant”) was convicted of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and theft of property over the value of $1,000 by a Robertson County jury.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a career offender to sixty years for both the aggravated rape and especially aggravated kidnapping charges, and to twelve years for the theft charge.  The trial court ordered the sentences to be served concurrently in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that venue was improper in Robertson County and that the evidence as to identity was insufficient for a rational juror to find that the Defendant was the assailant beyond a reasonable doubt.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/02/16
John C. Wells, III v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01715-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot “under the Takings Clause of the State and Federal Constitutions.” The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388 (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
James Bates v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01819-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court‟s decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
Kenneth Cradic v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01821-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions.. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
Ralph Thompson v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01845-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
Sean Goble v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01824-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
David Alan Hunter v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02177-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, David Alan Hunter, appeals from the post-conviction court's denial of relief from his conviction for first-degree murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the petitioner argues he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel's failure to adequately explain the benefits of accepting a plea agreement despite his assertion of innocence and failure to convey a formal plea offer made by the State. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/01/16
Larry Smith v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01899-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
State of Tennessee v. Chad Ray Thompson
M2015-01534-CCA-R3-CD

Chad Ray Thompson (“the Defendant”) was indicted by the Warren County Grand Jury for one count of first degree premeditated murder, one count of first degree felony murder, and one count of especially aggravated robbery in connection with the death of his cousin, Tracy Allen Martin (“the victim”).  Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to show premeditation for his first degree premeditated murder conviction and that there was insufficient evidence to prove the underlying felony of especially aggravated robbery for his first degree felony murder conviction.  Upon review, we conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to relief.  Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/01/16
William Phillips, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00103-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner, William Phillips, Jr., appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus/motion for Rule 36.1 correction of an illegal sentence, arguing that the trial court imposed an illegal sentence in violation of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) by altering the sentence in his negotiated plea agreement, which the trial court accepted prior to the sentencing hearing. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas court dismissing the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/01/16
Michael D. Ellington v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02295-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Michael D. Ellington, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his premeditated first degree murder conviction. On appeal, he argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief because the State either committed prosecutorial misconduct or he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/01/16
In re Cannon B.
E2016-01826-COA-R3-PT
This is an appeal by the appellant, Abigail T., from an order terminating her parental rights to her minor child. The order terminating the appellant’s parental rights was entered on July 19, 2016. The Notice of Appeal was not filed until August 19, 2016, more than thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the final order. The Attorney General, on behalf of the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, has filed a motion to dismiss this appeal based upon the untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal. Because the record confirms that the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal and grant the motion to dismiss.
 
Loudon County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
Alvin Waller, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00265-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Alvin “A.J.” Waller, Jr., appeals the denial of post-conviction relief for his convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. On appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/16
State of Tennessee v. April Lamb
M2016-00461-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, April Lamb, appeals her Rutherford County Circuit Court jury conviction of aggravated assault, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to sustain her conviction and that the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Mario Cruz Estrada
M2016-00056-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Mario Cruz Estrada, was convicted of attempted second degree murder for which he received a sentence of twelve years in confinement.  The defendant appeals his conviction challenging the trial court’s denial of his request for a jury instruction on the defenses of self-defense and defense of another and the admission of certain evidence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/16
In re Chance D.
E2016-00101-COA-R3-PT
This is a termination of parental rights case involving Chance D., who was age four at the time of trial. The mother, Carla D. ("Mother"), and the father, Julius D. ("Father"), have three children currently involved in termination actions: Chance D., Gabriella D., and Jude D. (collectively, "the Children"). Mother and Father have an extensive history with child welfare agencies and the courts in both Tennessee and Georgia.1 In March 2012, the Hamilton County Juvenile Court ("juvenile court") granted temporary legal custody of the Children to the Tennessee Department of Children‘s Services ("DCS"). Upon their placement in DCS custody, the Children were placed in the home of Karen P. and Thomas S. (collectively, "Foster Parents").2 DCS did not seek a finding of severe child abuse against Mother in the dependency and neglect action in juvenile court. Foster Parents filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother and to adopt Chance D. ("Chance") in the Hamilton County Circuit Court ("trial court") on July 31, 2013. Foster Parents concomitantly filed separate termination of parental rights actions involving Chance‘s two siblings, Gabriella D. ("Gabriella") and Jude D. ("Jude"). Following a bench trial, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that Mother had committed severe child abuse against Chance while he was in her custody. The trial court also found, however, that Foster Parents had not proven by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions leading to the removal of the Children persisted or that termination of Mother‘s parental rights was in Chance‘s best interest.3 The trial court thereby denied the petition to terminate Mother‘s parental rights to Chance. Foster Parents have appealed. We affirm the trial court‘s finding that the statutory ground of severe child abuse was proven by clear and convincing evidence. However, having determined that Foster Parents also proved by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother‘s parental rights was in the best interest of Chance, we reverse the trial court‘s denial of the termination petition. We therefore grant Foster Parents‘ petition for termination of Mother‘s parental rights to Chance. We remand this matter to the trial court for an adjudication regarding Foster Parents‘ petition for adoption.
 
Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
in re Chance D. - DISSENT
E2016-00101-COA-R3-PT

I fully concur in the majority's affirmance on the ground of severe abuse as to Chance D. Because I cannot agree that Foster Parents have shown clear and convincing evidence sufficient to forever sever the parent-child relationship at issue in this case, however, I must respectfully dissent from the majority's decision to reverse the trial court and grant Foster Parents' petition to terminate Mother's parental rights

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
In re Jude D.
E2016-00097-COA-R3-PT
This is a termination of parental rights case involving Jude D., who was age five at the time of trial. The mother, Carla D. ("Mother"), and the father, Julius D. ("Father"), have three children currently involved in termination actions: Chance D., Gabriella D., and Jude D. (collectively, the Children). Mother and Father have an extensive history with child welfare agencies and the courts in both Tennessee and Georgia.1 In March 2012, the Hamilton County Juvenile Court ("juvenile court") granted temporary legal custody of the Children to the Tennessee Department of Children‘s Services ("DCS"). Upon their placement in DCS custody, the Children were placed in the home of Karen P. and Thomas S. (collectively, "Foster Parents").2 DCS did not seek a finding of severe child abuse against Mother in the dependency and neglect action in juvenile court. Foster Parents filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother and to adopt Jude D. ("Jude") in the Hamilton County Circuit Court ("trial court") on July 31, 2013. Foster Parents concomitantly filed separate termination of parental rights actions involving Jude‘s two siblings, Gabriella D. ("Gabriella") and Chance D. ("Chance"). Following a bench trial, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that Mother had committed severe child abuse against Chance while he was in her custody. The trial court recognized that the determination of severe child abuse against Chance was a ground for termination of Mother‘s parental rights to Jude. The trial court also found, however, that Foster Parents had not proven by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions leading to the removal of the Children persisted or that termination of Mother‘s parental rights was in Jude‘s best interest.3 The trial court thereby denied the petition to terminate Mother‘s parental rights to Jude. Foster Parents have appealed. We affirm the trial court‘s finding that the statutory ground of severe child abuse was proven by clear and convincing evidence. However, having determined that Foster Parents also proved by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother‘s parental rights was in the best interest of Jude, we reverse the trial court‘s denial of the termination petition. We therefore grant Foster Parents‘ petition for termination of Mother‘s parental rights to Jude. We remand this matter to the trial court for an adjudication regarding Foster Parents‘ petition for adoption.
 
Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
In re Jude D. - DISSENT
E2016-00097-COA-R3-PT

I fully concur in the majority's affirmance on the ground of severe abuse as to Jude D. Because I cannot agree that Foster Parents have shown clear and convincing evidence sufficient to forever sever the parent-child relationship at issue in this case, however, I must respectfully dissent from the majority's decision to reverse the trial court and grant Foster Parents' petition to terminate Mother's parental rights.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
Lamont Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00090-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Lamont Johnson, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Gregory L. Allen a/k/a Michael Taylor
W2016-00495-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Gregory L. Allen a.k.a. Michael Taylor, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The defendant contends that the trial court erred in concluding that Rule 36.1 relief was not available because the alleged illegal sentence expired prior to the filing of the motion. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s Rule 36.1 motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/30/16