Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 08/02/2015
Format: 08/02/2015
Mark Takashi v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01432-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Mark Takashi, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Criminal Court for Knox County. He was convicted of aggravated child abuse and sentenced to twenty-five years' imprisonment, to be served at 100 percent. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during plea negotiations. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/15
Curtis Cecil Wayne Bolton v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00559-CCA-R3-PC
The Petitioner, Curtis Cecil Wayne Bolton, was convicted of the first degree premeditated murder of his two and one-half year old son and received a life sentence. In the present post-conviction action, the post-conviction court granted relief on two ineffective assistance of counsel claims but denied relief on the Petitioner’s remaining ineffective assistance of counsel claims. In this appeal, the State contends that the post-conviction court erred by granting relief for ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to seek a severance and in failing to object to the State’s bolstering and vouching for the codefendant’s testimony. The Petitioner also contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claims related to failure to consult with a medical expert and investigate the medical evidence, failure to advise the Petitioner accurately during plea discussions regarding the sentence he would face if convicted, and failure to object to prosecutorial misconduct. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court granting post-conviction relief on the ground that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to seek a severance.
 
Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/15
State of Tennessee v. Zantuan A. Horton
M2014-02541-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Zantuan A. Horton, appeals the revocation of his probationary sentence, claiming that the trial court erred by ordering that he serve the balance of his sentence in confinement.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/15
Michael Antonio Dodson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00768-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Michael A. Dodson, entered open pleas of guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to one count of aggravated rape, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a felony.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a mixture of concurrent and consecutive sentences which resulted in an effective sentence of 86 years at 100% service.  The judgments were affirmed on appeal.  State v. Michael Antonio Dodson, No. M2010-01047-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 5831759 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 21, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. April 20, 2012).  He filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief.  Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief and dismissed the petition.  Petitioner has timely appealed, and following a review of the record and the briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/15
In re Cassie C.
E2014-02113-COA-R3-JV

This case involves a minor's appeal of a criminal court order directing her to pay restitution of over $9,000 at the rate of $50 a month. The minor claims that the amount of restitution is excessive and that the court failed to consider the rehabilitative nature of the juvenile court system and her inability to remit payment. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/28/15
State Bank of Reeseville v. Mary Beth Shea et al.
E2014-02170-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff bank filed this action asserting that defendants fraudulently conveyed real property located in Tennessee in an effort to defraud the bank and to evade the collection of a Wisconsin state court judgment against defendant Mrs. Shea. The trial court granted the bank’s motion for summary judgment, setting aside the conveyance as fraudulent and declaring the deed from Mrs. Shea to her father null and void. The defendants appeal. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 07/28/15
State of Tennessee v. Debra L. Heath
E2014-00555-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Debra L. Heath, has appealed the Morgan County Criminal Court’s denial of her motions to suppress evidence obtained during searches of her property. The appellate record, however, does not contain a motion for new trial, a transcript from a motion for new trial hearing, or an order denying a motion for new trial. Pursuant to Rule 3(e) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, we conclude that the issue presented herein has been waived. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/15
State of Tennessee v. LeDerrius Thomas
W2014-01390-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Lederrius Thomas, was convicted of first degree murder and attempted first degree murder. The trial court sentenced appellant to life for his first degree murder conviction and to fifteen years for his attempted first degree murder conviction, to be served concurrently. Appellant now challenges his convictions, arguing that the evidence at trial was insufficient to prove premeditation and that the trial court erred in issuing a supplemental jury instruction regarding the element of premeditation. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/15
Kingston Neale B/N/F Dion Russell v. United Way of Greater Kingsport et al.
E2014-01334-COA-R3-CV

This negligence action arose when a minor child injured his finger while participating in a woodworking shop activity at a facility operated by the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport. The child's father and mother originally filed a joint action as next friends of the child, naming as defendants the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport and the United Way of Greater Kingsport (collectively, “Defendants”). The parents eventually nonsuited the original action. The child's father subsequently filed this action as next friend of the child, seeking damages for permanent impairment, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity. Defendants filed concomitant motions for summary judgment, each asserting that the father lacked standing to bring this action pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 20-1-105(b). Following a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The father has appealed. Having determined that Tennessee Code Annotated § 20-1-105(b) (2009) operates only to bar an action brought by the father on his own behalf to recover medical expenses and loss of the child's service, we affirm the grant of summary judgment to Defendants only as to the father's claim for these damages. We reverse the grant of summary judgment as to the claims brought on behalf of the child and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 07/28/15
Diane R. Wright, et al. v. Shoney's Tenn1 LLC.
M2014-01394-COA-R3-CV

Suit was brought for personal injuries allegedly sustained in a slip-and-fall at Defendant’s restaurant. Plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary non-suit and then re-filed the complaint within a year of dismissal; service of process was not obtained for twenty months. On Defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint as being ineffective because of Plaintiffs’ alleged intentional delay in securing service of summons in contravention of Tenn. R. Civ. P. 4.01(3), the court held that the delay was intentional and dismissed the complaint. Finding that the evidence does not support the finding that Plaintiffs intentionally delayed service of process, we reverse the judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/28/15
Mark Evans v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, et al.
M2014-01394-COA-R3-CV

A pro se litigant brought suit in the General Sessions Court for Smith County over a dispute with a neighbor. The general sessions court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff appealed to the Circuit Court, where his claims were once again dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Because in this circumstance we conclude that only a chancery court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the dispute, we affirm.

Smith County Court of Appeals 07/28/15
In re: Estate of Jane Kathryn Ross, et al.
M2014-02252-COA-R3-CV

The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the terms of an attorney-client retainer agreement preclude the attorneys from recovering any fees for representation of the decedent’s estate in an action to recover assets from the decedent’s son. Prior to her death, the decedent commenced an action against her son to recover the value of a new home she constructed on her son’s property, which was prior to the engagement of the attorneys whose fees are at issue. After the decedent’s death, the administrator continued to pursue the action, but subsequently concluded that the estate did not have sufficient assets to continue prosecuting the claim; thus, the administrator agreed to a settlement with the decedent’s son. When the motion seeking court approval of the settlement was filed, the decedent’s daughter opposed the settlement. Following discussions, the administrator, the decedent’s daughter, and her attorneys entered into an agreement stating, in pertinent part, that the daughter’s attorneys would “at no cost to the estate, prosecute this matter to trial” and that “all [of the attorneys’] fees and expenses shall be the responsibility of [the daughter].” The attorneys prosecuted the matter to trial, and the estate prevailed; however, the son appealed the judgment, and we reversed and remanded for a new trial. The estate prevailed on remand, and the son appealed again. While the second appeal was pending, the son filed a petition for bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee was appointed, and the probate court allowed the trustee to be substituted for the son. Thereafter, the attorneys who represented the estate in the trial of the underlying action and both appeals filed a motion for fees and expenses. The administrator for the estate did not file an objection to the fees based on the retainer agreement or inform the probate court or the trustee of the existence of the retainer agreement. Following a hearing, the trial court awarded $178,598 in attorneys’ fees and expenses and assessed all of the fees against the estate. Soon thereafter, the bankruptcy trustee learned of the retainer agreement. Based on this new information, the trustee filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59.04 motion to set aside the order assessing the attorneys’ fees against the estate. The administrator supported the trustee’s motion, taking the position for the first time that the parties to the retainer agreement intended for the daughter to be responsible for all of the attorneys’ fees. Conversely, the attorneys seeking the fees insisted that the retainer agreement only relieved the estate of liability for the fees incurred through the trial, which concluded on August 15, 2012. The attorneys’ position was supported by the administrator’s prior counsel who negotiated the terms of the retainer agreement on behalf of the estate. She stated that it was not the intent of the parties to preclude the new attorneys from recovering fees for services rendered on behalf of the estate after trial. She also stated that it would be “highly inequitable” for the estate to not be responsible for the fees incurred after the trial because the resulting judgment benefited the estate. Following a hearing on the trustee’s motion, the trial court ruled that it was the intent of the parties for the daughter to be solely responsible for attorneys’ fees and expenses “up to trial,” but all reasonable and necessary fees and expenses incurred after that trial were the responsibility of the estate. Thus, the court assessed the attorneys’ fees incurred through August 15, 2012 to the daughter and all fees incurred thereafter to the estate. This appeal followed. We affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/28/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Anthony Logan
M2013-02701-CCA-R3-CD

Aggrieved of his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, carjacking, reckless endangerment, and three counts of aggravated assault, the defendant appeals.  He claims that (1) the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss based upon a violation of his right to a speedy trial; (2) the trial court denied his right to due process of law by failing to rule on his pretrial motions; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault; (4) his conviction of reckless endangerment is void because that offense was not a lesser included offense of the charged offense of aggravated assault; (5) the dual convictions of aggravated robbery and carjacking violate principles of double jeopardy; (6) he was denied the constitutional right to confront the witnesses against him; (7) the trial court’s failure to enforce its subpoenas denied him the right to compulsory process; (8) the trial court should have either excluded certain evidence or granted the defendant’s motion for a continuance; (9) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress certain evidence; (10) the trial court erred by failing to exclude an out-of-court identification of the defendant; (11) the trial court erred by failing to order the production of certain evidence; and (12) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences.  Because felony reckless endangerment is not a lesser included offense of aggravated assault, the defendant’s conviction of that offense is reversed, and that count is remanded for a new trial on the remaining lesser included offense of assault.  We affirm the judgments of the trial court in all other respects.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Donald W. Higgins, III
M2014-01171-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Donald W. Higgins III, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated child neglect, claiming that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court erred by admitting photographs of the victim’s injuries, that the trial court erred by refusing to play at trial a portion of his recorded pretrial interview with the police, that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury that a violation of the duty to report was a lesser included offense of aggravated child neglect, and by imposing a Range II sentence.  Because the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to support the defendant’s conviction of aggravated child neglect, that conviction is reversed, and the charge is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Bradley Dale Felton
M2014-02333-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Bradley Dale Felton, pleaded guilty to attempted rape of a child, a Class B felony, and received an eight-year sentence, suspended to probation after serving one year in custody.  A probation violation warrant was filed, and the trial court sustained the violation and ordered appellant to serve fifteen weekends in jail and extended his probation by one year.  Appellant was subsequently arrested on a capias warrant for failing to serve his weekends in a consecutive manner, and following a revocation hearing, the trial court ordered his sentence into execution.  Appellant now appeals the judgment of the trial court, arguing that he was never ordered to serve his weekends consecutively.  The State concedes that appellant is correct and that the trial court should be reversed.  Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Dominique Ramell Jarrett
E2014-02131-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Dominique Ramell Jarrett, entered a guilty plea to carjacking, a Class B felony, and received the agreed-upon sentence of eight years with the trial court to determine the manner of service. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied all forms of alternative sentencing and ordered appellant to serve his sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. It is from this judgment that he now appeals. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/15
Roy Len Rogers v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00255-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Roy Len Rogers, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, second degree murder, and reckless endangerment. State v. Roy Len Rogers, No. E2011-02529-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 5371987, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 23, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 11, 2014). The trial court merged the second degree murder conviction into the first degree murder conviction and sentenced petitioner to a mandatory life sentence for the murder conviction and to a concurrent term of eleven months and twenty-nine days for the reckless endangerment conviction. Id. This court upheld petitioner's conviction on direct appeal. Id. The pro se petitioner filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged numerous infractions of the trial court, trial counsel, and the State. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition, stating that the issues had been addressed in petitioner's direct appeal. On appeal, petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred by summarily dismissing his petition without appointing counsel. Following our review of the record, the parties' briefs, and the applicable law, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for appointment of counsel and further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/15
Homer L. Cody v. Board of Professional Responsibility of The Supreme Court of Tennessee
W2014-02003-SC-R3-BP

A hearing panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that a Memphis attorney should be suspended from the practice of law for 180 days based on his violation of Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 8, Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7(a), 8.4(a), and 8.4(d). The trial court affirmed the decision of the Hearing Panel. After careful consideration, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Supreme Court 07/27/15
The Peoples Bank v. Conrad Mark Troutman, et al.
E2014-01150-COA-R3-CV

This action involves a commercial loan in the amount of $765,000.00. Prior to closing on the loan, the lender received a commitment for title insurance requiring that a prior lien on title to the real property as collateral be released or subordinated. The lender went forward with the closing after receiving assurance from the title insurance company's agent and attorney that the prior lien had been subordinated. Thereafter, the title insurance company issued a policy that excepted the prior lien from coverage. Following default by the borrowers, the prior lienholder foreclosed on the property, causing the lender to file the present action against the title insurance company and the attorney who prepared the commitment for title insurance, as well as the attorney's law firm. The title insurance company and the attorney, together with his law firm, filed separate motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion filed by the attorney and his firm. The lender subsequently took a voluntary nonsuit of its claims against those parties. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the title insurance company. The attorney, his firm, and the lender have appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the title insurance company. We dismiss the joint appeal filed by the attorney and his law firm as not justiciable.

Campbell County Court of Appeals 07/27/15
Michael Carnahan v. Jeffrey Carnahan
M2014-01759-COA-R3-CV

Money judgment was entered in suit to recover personal property which had been instituted in general sessions court. Defendant sought relief pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 more than ten days after judgment was entered and general sessions court denied relief. On appeal, the circuit court granted plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because motion for relief was not timely, as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 16-15-727. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.   

Wilson County Court of Appeals 07/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Daniel H. Jones
E2014-02463-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Daniel H. Jones, is currently serving an effective sentence of thirty-one years for a multitude of convictions. In October 2014, Defendant filed a motion under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, alleging that his aggregate sentence is illegal because it exceeds the maximum sentence for a Range I offender convicted of a Class B felony. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, finding that Defendant had failed to state a colorable claim. Upon our thorough review of the record, we determine that Defendant has not presented a colorable claim for relief. Therefore, we affirm the decision of the trial court in full.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/15
State of Tennessee v. John Wesley Couch
M2014-01372-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, John Wesley Couch, was found guilty by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-433 (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to four years’ confinement, to be served consecutively to a Coffee County sentence and any other existing sentences.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) his sentence is excessive and contrary to law.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/15
Curtis D. Marvel v. Roane Transportation Services, LLC
E2014-01252-SC-R3-WC

A truck driver alleged that he sustained a heart attack in the course and scope of his employment. His employer denied the claim, asserting that the heart attack was not caused by his employment. The trial court ruled that the claim was compensable and awarded the truck driver workers' compensation benefits. The employer has appealed. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, the appeal was referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

Sevier County Workers Compensation Panel 07/23/15
In re Marcell W.
W2014-02004-COA-R3-PT

In this parental termination case, Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to the minor child at issue. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/23/15
Andrew C. Clarke v. City of Memphis
W2014-00602-COA-R3-CV

This appeal stems from a public records dispute, pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act, Tennessee Code Annotated
§ 10-7-101 et seq., litigated in the Shelby County Chancery Court. The trial court awarded Appellee/Cross-Appellant $3,500.00 in attorneys‘ fees and costs due to the City of Memphis‘ ("the City") failure to timely respond to Appellee/Cross-Appellant‘s open records request. The City appealed concerning the propriety of the award of attorneys‘ fees. Appellee/Cross-Appellant cross-appealed concerning the amount of the fees awarded and additionally prayed for an award of attorneys‘ fees on appeal. Although we conclude that Appellee/Cross-Appellant is entitled to attorneys‘ fees, we modify the amount awarded from $3,500.00 to $2,340.00. Further, we deny Appellee/Cross-Appellant‘s request for attorneys‘ fees on appeal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/23/15