Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/20/2014
Format: 12/20/2014
Ricardo Davidson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00565-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner, Ricardo Davidson, filed a petition in the Maury County Circuit Court, seeking habeas corpus relief from four felony drug convictions.  The court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that the petitioner failed to file in the court closest to him and that, regardless, his claims did not entitle him to habeas corpus relief.  On appeal, the petitioner challenges this ruling.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
Mack Transou v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00537-CCA-R3-ECN

The petitioner, Mack Transou, appeals from the dismissal of his second coram nobis petition, some of which appears to be repackaged claims from his previous post-conviction attacks on his sentences, with others not cognizable for coram nobis relief. The coram nobis court concluded that his petition was without merit, and we concur. Accordingly, we affirm the denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
Rodricko Thomas v. Jerry Lester, Warden
W2014-00686-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner, Rodricko Thomas, received an effective sentence of fourteen years after pleading guilty to an included offense of aggravated robbery and nolo contendere to the charged offenses of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Two years after being sentenced, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging the firearm conviction was void because the indictment had not specified a predicate felony. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and this court affirmed that dismissal because the petition did not include a copy of the assailed indictment. Rodricko O. Thomas v. Jerry Lester, Warden, No. W2013-02522-CCA-R3-HC, 2014 WL 2442272, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 23, 2014). Subsequently, he filed a second petition, making the same allegations and, with this petition, included a copy of the indictment. The habeas corpus court determined that the indictment was sufficient to apprise the petitioner of the employing a firearm offense and dismissed the petition. Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
David Jones v. Mortgage Menders, LLC, et al
M2014-00140-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves several claims relating to the sale and refinancing of Plaintiff’s two properties. When Plaintiff defaulted on the mortgages, Mortgage Menders, LLC offered to purchase the properties,fulfill the mortgage indebtedness, refurbish the properties for resale, and remit half of the profits when the properties sold. Mortgage Menders, LLC borrowed money from Defendant Hazlewood to accomplish the terms of the agreement. Defendant Hazlewood also served as an escrow and closing agent for two later transactions involving the properties. When Plaintiff failed to receive any portion of the proceeds relating to the sale of one of the properties, he filed suit for breach of contract, fraud, and civil conspiracy against each of the parties involved. Defendant Hazlewood filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The trial court partially granted the motion for summary judgment, finding that Defendant Hazlewood was not a party to the contract and that he had not participated in a civil conspiracy. Years later, the court dismissed the remainder of the case for failure to prosecute. Plaintiff appeals. The decision of the trial court is affirmed in part and reversed in part. We remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/12/14
In Re: Josie A., et al
M2014-00442-COA-R3-PT

Father’s parental rights to his three children were terminated on the grounds of abandonment by failure to visit, failure to support, and failure to provide a suitable home, as well as persistence of the conditions that led to the removal of the children. He appeals, contending that there is not clear and convincing evidence sufficient to terminate his parental rights. Finding no error in the judgment of the trial court, we affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 12/12/14
Maria Beth Reynolds v. William Reynolds
M2013-01912-COA-R3-CV

Wife filed a criminal contempt petition against Husband alleging seven violations of the order of protection she obtained against him. The trial court found Husband guilty of six of the seven counts of criminal contempt and, after considering each count of contempt individually, sentenced him to a total of 28 days in jail to be served consecutively. Husband challenges five of the six findings of criminal contempt and the sentence. Husband also challenges the exclusion of his witness based on her violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615. We have determined the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Husband’s witness for violating Rule 615. We have also determined the evidence supports the finding that Husband violated the order of protection on each of the five counts he challenges and that the sentence imposed is appropriate. Therefore, we affirm the trial court in all aspects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/12/14
Perry L. McCrobey v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00369-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Perry L. McCrobey, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, petition for post-conviction relief, and petition for a writ of error coram nobis, seeking relief from his conviction of possession of cocaine for resale and resulting eight-year sentence. On appeal, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the petitions

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/11/14
State of Tennessee v. Letivias D. Prince
M2014-00260-CCA-R3-ECN

The petitioner, Letivias D. Prince, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which challenged his 1997 jury conviction of first degree murder.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/11/14
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Joe Mason
E2014-00571-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Bobby Joe Mason, pled guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court to robbery, a Class C felony, and criminal impersonation, a Class A misdemeanor, and received an effective three-year sentence to be served as 160 days in confinement and the remainder on enhanced supervised probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by revoking his probation and ordering that he serve the remainder of his sentences in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/11/14
State ex rel. Department of Transportation v. William H. Thomas, Jr.
W2013-02082-COA-R3-CV

This is the second appeal of this case involving the Appellee’s construction of a billboard without the required state permit. In the first appeal, this Court held that the trial court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate any of Appellee’s purported defenses or counterclaims raised in response to the State of Tennessee’s petition for injunctive relief. Accordingly, we held that the trial court’s order was “void and of no effect.” Upon remand, the State sought restitution for amounts paid to Appellee pursuant to the void order. In contravention of the law of the case, the trial court awarded Appellant only part of its restitution, and ruled in Appellee’s favor on his First Amendment defense to the State’s petition. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s order and remand the case with mandated instructions.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/11/14
State of Tennessee v. Janice Kirkland
E2013-02243-CCA-R3-CD

A Blount County jury found the Appellant guilty of two counts of assault against an unacquainted homeowner. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by subjecting her to double jeopardy in convicting her of two counts of assault rather than one. She also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the convictions. Because we find that the two convictions are based on separate offenses under applicable law, and because a rational jury could find the Appellant guilty based on the evidence presented, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/11/14
In Re Conservatorship of Michael S. Starnes
W2013-02614-COA-R3-CV

This is a conservatorship case. Appellant, the only child of Appellee, sought a conservatorship over Appellee after Appellee suffered a stroke. Appellee filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(6) motion to dismiss the petition. The trial court, in its memorandum opinion, denied the Appellee’s motion to dismiss, finding Appellant’s petition to appoint a conservator “legally sufficient.” In that same opinion, the trial court considered matters outside the pleadings, converted the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment, and sua sponte granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee. Appellant appeals. Because Appellant was not, as required under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02, “given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to [the] motion by Rule 56,” we vacate and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Ellison
W2013-02786-CCA-R3-CD

Calvin Ellison (“Defendant”) was indicted on one count of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony - attempted first degree murder. A jury returned verdicts convicting the Defendant of misdemeanor reckless endangerment as a lesser-included charge of attempted first degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, and employing a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s ruling excluding a portion of his expert witness’s testimony; argues that his conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony should be overturned in light of the jury’s verdict in the first count of the indictment; and challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/10/14
Ricky Frith v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02435-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Ricky Frith, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel’s failure to: (1) adequately communicate, investigate, and prepare for trial by obtaining “exonerating records”; (2) raise a Fourth Amendment challenge to the Petitioner’s illegal arrest; (3) subpoena the officer who took the victim’s initial suspect description; and (4) file a timely motion for new trial. Additionally, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel based upon appellate counsel’s advice that there was no legitimate basis for an appeal, and appellate counsel’s failure to request a delayed appeal. After our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Rothes Taylor
W2013-02520-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant was convicted of burglary and theft over $500 and sentenced to four years. On appeal, the Appellant argues that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions. After reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/10/14
Howard G. Bruff v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02223-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Howard G. Bruff, appeals the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s denial of his timely petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2005 convictions of first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery on the grounds that his trial counsel was ineffective. Because the record supports the decision of the post-conviction court, we affirm that court’s order.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/10/14
State of Tennessee v. David Patrick Armitage
E2013-02654-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, David Patrick Armitage, was convicted of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and sentenced to twenty years in the Department of Correction. The sentence was to be served consecutively to a previous out-of-state sentence. On appeal, the defendant raises two issues for review: (1) whether there was sufficient corroboration of an accomplice’s testimony with regard to the defendant’s identity; and (2) whether the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction. Following review of the record, we affirm the conviction and sentence as imposed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/10/14
Buddy J. Webb, et al. v. Brent Douglas, et al.
W2014-00299-COA-R3-CV

Landowners, whose properties abut a gravel road that  crosses over the land of another, claim the right to use that road for ingress and egress.  The trial court found the gravel road was formerly a public road, but that the road ceased being a public road at some point.  Once the road ceased being a public road, the trial court found the landowners whose land abutted the road had a permanent easement and right to use the road for ingress and egress purposes.  The landowners over whose property the road crosses appealed.  We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Benton County Court of Appeals 12/09/14
Lloyd L. Meyers v. Farmers Aid Association of Loudon County, Tennessee
E2013-02585-COA-R9-CV

This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of Appellant insurer’s motion for summary judgment in an action on a homeowner’s policy that contained a contractual one-year statute of limitations. The Appellee insured filed suit eighteen months after the loss occurred. In the trial court, the Appellant insurer moved for summary judgment, arguing that the one-year statute of limitations in the Appellee insured’s policy was a bar to his action. The trial court agreed with the Appellee’s interpretation of the policy provisions and denied the motion for summary judgment. This court granted the Appellant’s application for interlocutory appeal. Following our review, we reverse the trial court’s decision and remand the case for entry of summary judgment in favor of Appellant.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 12/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Rohman M. Harper
M2014-00944-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Rohman M. Harper, was found guilty by a Cheatham County Circuit Court jury of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-504 (2014).  Before the trial, the Defendant pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor, and to public intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor.  See id. §§ 39-16-602 (2014), 39-17-310 (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent terms of eight years at 100% service for aggravated sexual battery, six months for resisting arrest, and thirty days for public intoxication.  On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his aggravated sexual battery conviction.  Although we affirm the aggravated sexual battery conviction, we remand the case for entry of corrected judgments relative to the resisting arrest and public intoxication convictions.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/14
Derrick Campbell v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02567-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Derrick Devon Campbell, pleaded guilty to second degree murder with an agreed sentence of thirty years at Range II to be served at one-hundred percent as a violent offender. Petitioner now appeals the trial court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly explain his plea agreement and the consequences of the plea.  Having reviewed the record before us, we affirm the judgment of trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Vanessa Coleman
E2013-01208-CCA-R3-CD

In this case both victims were sexually assaulted. Accordingly, we will identify them by their initials. Defendant, Vanessa Coleman, was one of four defendants charged by presentment for offenses which occurred in January 2007, involving the deaths of the victims, C.N. and C.C. In her first trial, Defendant was acquitted of all charges alleging the murder, kidnapping, and rape of victim C.N. She was convicted of several counts of the lesserincluded offense of facilitation of charges alleging the murder, kidnapping, and rape of victim C.C. Defendant was granted a new trial by the trial court based upon structural error in the proceedings of the first trial. Following the second trial, a jury found Defendant guilty of the following offenses against victim C.C.: three counts of facilitation of first degree murder, one count of facilitation of second degree murder, two counts of facilitation of aggravated kidnapping, six counts of facilitation of rape, and one count of facilitation of misdemeanor theft. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged Defendant’s convictions for facilitation of first degree murder and second degree murder into one conviction and imposed a sentence of 25 years for that conviction. The trial court also merged Defendant’s two convictions for facilitation of aggravated kidnapping and imposed a sentence of six years to be served consecutively to Defendant’s 25-year sentence. The trial court merged Defendant’s six convictions for facilitation of rape into three convictions and imposed a sentence of four years for each conviction, to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to Defendant’s remaining sentences. For Defendant’s facilitation of misdemeanor theft conviction, the trial court imposed a sentence of six months to be served concurrently with the remaining sentences. Thus, Defendant received a total effective sentence of 35 years for her convictions. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) whether the evidence at trial was sufficient to sustain her convictions; 2) whether the trial court should have dismissed the presentment because Defendant was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury before the filing of the presentment in this case; 3) whether the trial court erred by admitting testimony of Defendant’s statements made during unrecorded interviews; 4) whether the trial court should have excluded photographs of the victims’ bodies; 5) whether all of Defendant’s convictions for facilitation of rape should have been merged into one conviction; and 6) whether the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record before us, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Vanessa Coleman - separate concurring opinion
E2013-01208-CCA-R3-CD

I write separately because I feel it is necessary to adequately address the federal grand jury issue as presented by the Defendant in her appellate brief. The majority notes that the Defendant moved to dismiss the presentment under Rule 6(j)(6) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, arguing that her subpoena to testify before the federal grand jury barred her state court prosecution. I do not disagree that Rule 6(j) 6) “applies only to proceedings in state grand juries within the State of Tennessee.” However, the Defendant’s argument both in her interlocutory appeal, and as presented in this direct appeal, is that the federal authorities were acting as agents of the Knox County District Attorney General’s office. Specifically, she notes that the charges against her arose from a joint investigation between State and federal authorities. She continues, by virtue of this joint investigation, the federal authorities were acting as agents of the Knox County District Attorney General when they subpoenaed her to testify before the federal grand jury regarding her knowledge and participation in the crimes against the victims, thereby, triggering the immunity protection afforded by Rule 6(j)(6). In my opinion, to ignore the agency issue, ignores the issue presented by the Defendant.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/14
Rodney Braden v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02767-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Rodney Braden, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his conviction for second degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with his guilty plea. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/14
Charlotte J. Cartwright, et al. v. DMC-Memphis Inc. d/b/a Delta Medical Center, et al.
W2013-01614-COA-R3-CV

This appeal requires consideration of the interplay between the pre-suit notice requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121 and Tennessee’s savings statute, Tennessee Code Annotated § 28-1-105. In the instant case, Plaintiff re-filed a medical malpractice action within one year of a previous voluntary non-suit. Defendants moved to dismiss the re-filed action on the basis that the pre-suit notice provided incident to the initial lawsuit was deficient. They argued that the failure to provide the required notice in the first lawsuit meant Plaintiff’s original action was not properly commenced and therefore failed to toll the statute of limitations. The trial court agreed, determined that the second lawsuit was filed outside of the applicable limitation period, and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims. We reverse.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/09/14