Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 11/23/2014
Format: 11/23/2014
State of Tennessee v. Charles Godspower
M2013-00721-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Charles Godspower, pled guilty in the Rutherford County Circuit Court to second degree murder and attempted first degree murder, Class A felonies, and received concurrent 30-year sentences to be served at 100% and 35%, respectively.  On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to reduce his sentences.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
Nathaniel Carson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00422-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Nathaniel Carson, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call a second alibi witness and failing to request a bill of particulars.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
Gary Dwayne Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02034-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Gary Dwayne Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He stands convicted of multiple charges based upon his actions following his escape from custody at a hospital where he was being treated.  He was sentenced, as a career offender, to an effective term of one hundred and forty-one years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in its denial because he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately investigate the case and potential exonerating evidence; (2) failing to pursue a motion for severance; (3) failing to include all issues in the motion for new trial; and (4) failing to file mitigating factors and provide adequate representation at the sentencing hearing.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly denied relief.  As such, the judgment of the court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
Clarence Nesbit v. State of Tennessee
W2009-02101-SC-R11-PD

The issue presented is whether the defendant is entitled to a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced him to death. Following unsuccessful appeals, the defendant filed for post-conviction relief on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court granted the defendant a new sentencing hearing, but denied him a new trial on the murder conviction. A majority of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, holding that any deficiency in trial counsel’s performance at the guilt phase did not result in prejudice. We hold that the defendant has not proven by clear and convincing evidence a reasonable probability that, but for the deficient performance of his trial counsel, the result would have been different.  We affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

Shelby County Supreme Court 11/14/14
McCurry Expeditions, LLC, et al. v. Richard H. Roberts
M2014-00526-COA-R3-CV

The case concerns the imposition of sales and use tax on a luxury motor home stored in Tennessee byan out-of-state corporation.The trial court granted summary judgment to the tax-payer corporation, finding that the imposition of sales tax was not authorized by statute and was not consistent with the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. We reverse and remand.

Giles County Court of Appeals 11/14/14
In Re: Estate of Edward Stephen McRedmond
M2013-02582-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a longstanding dispute among ten siblings with respect to a family business. Afteryears of litigation,the parties agreed to dissolve the corporation that operated the family business and sell its assets. A receiver was appointed and authorized to sell the assets. The three defendant-siblings in this case placed the highest bid for the assets, and the trial court approved the sale to those three siblings. Prior to the closing of the sale, the three siblings formed a new corporation and assigned their right to purchase the assets to the newly formed corporation. Accordingly, at closing, the receiver conveyed the assets directly to the new corporation. The new corporation began conducting business just as the family business had done in the past. One of the plaintiff siblings formed another corporation and went into direct competition with the corporation that purchased the assets of the family business. The three individual siblings filed a counterclaim against the competing sibling, alleging intentional interference with business relations, breach of fiduciary duty, and that they lost the benefit of their bargain. Theyalso sought injunctive relief against the competing sibling. Neither of the newly formed corporations was made a party to the proceedings. Following a three-day bench trial, the trial court awarded compensatory damages to each of the three siblings and entered a permanent injunction against the competing sibling. The competing sibling appeals the trial court’s order on numerous grounds. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court’s order, vacate the injunction, and dismiss the counterclaim.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/14/14
Gary Dwayne Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02034-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Gary Dwayne Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He stands convicted of multiple charges based upon his actions following his escape from custody at a hospital where he was being treated.  He was sentenced, as a career offender, to an effective term of one hundred and forty-one years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in its denial because he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately investigate the case and potential exonerating evidence; (2) failing to pursue a motion for severance; (3) failing to include all issues in the motion for new trial; and (4) failing to file mitigating factors and provide adequate representation at the sentencing hearing.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly denied relief.  As such, the judgment of the court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
The Estate Of Cheryl Lynn Quinn, By Personal Representative, William Paul Quinn v. Thomas Henderson Et Al.
E2013-02398-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a grant of summary judgment to the defendant governmental entities. The decedent, Cheryl Lynn Quinn, died from smoke inhalation following a house fire allegedly set by her ex-boyfriend. Her estate filed a wrongful death action against the exboyfriend as well as the Blount County Sheriff’s Department (“Sheriff’s Department”), the Blount County 911 Communication Center (“911”), and the Blount County 1 Fire Protection District (“Fire Department”). The claims against the alleged arsonist and the Sheriff’s Department were nonsuited, and the trial court granted summary judgment to 911 and the Fire Department. Plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Appeals 11/13/14
In Re Abigail M., Et Al.
E2014-01825-COA-R3-JV

This appeal is from a custody order entered in a dependency and neglect proceeding in the Juvenile Court for Hamilton County (“Juvenile Court.”). Because we have no jurisdiction to hear an appeal from a custody order entered in a dependency and neglect case, this appeal is dismissed.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/13/14
In Re Alexus F.
E2014-00723-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case filed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. The trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate Father/Appellant’s parental rights on the grounds of abandonment and substantial noncompliance with the requirements outlined in the permanency plans. The trial court also found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of the Father’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Father appeals. We affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights on the sole ground of substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan. Affirmed and remanded.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/13/14
Teresa G. Moore v. Knox County Government, et al.
E2013-01552-SC-WC-R3

The employee sustained a compensable shoulder injury when she fell from a ladder while removing Christmas decorations. The trial court determined that the employee had sustained a 7% anatomical impairment, awarded her 21% permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits, and denied her claim for temporary disability benefits. The employer has appealed, asserting that the trial court erred by awarding benefits in excess of one and one-half times the anatomical impairment. The employee contends that the trial court erred by denying her temporary disability claim. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We conclude that the trial court erred by awarding PPD benefits in excess of one and one-half times the impairment. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.

Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 11/12/14
Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County v. Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, et al
M2013-01551-COA-R3-CV

A substitute teacher filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development; utilizing the partial unemployment regulation to determine the claimant’s eligibility for benefits, the Department approved the claim and awarded benefits. The Board of Education filed a petition for review, contending that the teacher was not entitled to benefits because she was still employed and because she had refused work assignments which she had been offered; the trial court utilized the regulation applicable to part total unemployment and affirmed the Department’s decision. We affirm the holding that the part total regulation was the proper regulation to be used in determining the claimant’s eligibility; because the Department did not make findings as to certain statutory factors in determining claimant’s eligibility for benefits, we vacate the decision and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Corrin Kathleen Reynolds - separate concurring
E2013-02309-CCA-R9-CD
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Corrin Kathleen Reynolds
E2013-02309-CCA-R9-CD

Defendant, Corrin Kathleen Reynolds, was charged with several criminal offenses, including driving under the influence, after she was involved in a fatal car accident in Knox County. While Defendant was at the hospital being treated for her injuries, a blood sample was taken for law enforcement purposes. Defendant filed motions seeking to suppress the results of the blood analysis. After two hearings, the trial court granted Defendant’s motion. The trial court and this Court granted the State’s request to pursue an interlocutory appeal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we determine that the record supports the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant did not give actual consent to the contested blood draw. However, the record preponderates against the trial court’s conclusion that Officer Strzelecki lacked probable cause to believe that Defendant had consumed alcohol. Therefore, we determine that the warrantless blood draw was proper under subsection (f)(1) of the implied consent statute because Defendant did not refuse the blood draw. Accordingly, Defendant’s blood test results are not subject to suppression on the grounds argued; we reverse the trial court’s grant of Defendant’s motion to suppress and remand this matter for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
Rafia N. Khan, Individually, And In Her Capacity As Trustee Of The Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust v. Regions Bank
E2010-01837-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a disputed arbitration award. Rafia N. Khan (“Mrs. Khan”), individually, and as Trustee of the Rafia N. Khan Irrevocable Trust (“the Trust”) sued Regions Bank (“the Bank”) in the Chancery Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”) alleging that the Bank had committed unfair acts under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“the TCPA”) by refusing to release a lien on property owned by the Trust and pledged to secure the Khans’ line of credit with the Bank. Mrs. Khan’s husband previously had withdrawn $40,000 on the joint line of credit, a move Mrs. Khan opposed. Per the loan documents, the parties by an agreed order entered into arbitration. The arbitrator Robert P. Murrian (“the Arbitrator”), in a lengthy and detailed final award, found that the Bank was not liable for any unfair acts under the TCPA, that Mrs. Khan was not personally liable for the $40,000 loan made by the Bank to Mr. Khan, and that Mrs. Khan was not entitled to an order in the arbitration requiring the Bank to release the lien on the property. The Trial Court vacated the arbitration award. The Bank appeals. We hold, inter alia, that the Arbitrator rendered a sound, well-reasoned decision and award, and the Trial Court erred in vacating the award. We reverse the Trial Court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Rene Morris
M2013-01265-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Stephen Rene Morris, was convicted of Class A misdemeanor assault and sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days, which was suspended to supervised probation.  The defendant now appeals his conviction asserting: (1) that the trial court erred by instructing the jury that misdemeanor assault is a lesser included offense of Class E felony abuse of an adult, the original charge; and (2) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did err in instructing the jury, but the resulting error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Additionally, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction.  As such, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Alajemba
M2013-00968-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Jonathan Alajemba, appeals his Rutherford County Circuit Court jury convictions of felony murder, second degree murder, attempted first degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, claiming a violation of his right to a speedy trial; that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statement he made to police and his motion for transcription of witness statements; that the trial court erred by declaring a witness unavailable for the purpose of admitting prior testimony; that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of first degree felony murder, facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary; that the trial court made several erroneous evidentiary rulings; and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument.  Because the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions of aggravated burglary and felony murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a burglary, those convictions are reversed, and the charges are dismissed.  The felony murder convictions predicated upon robbery and theft remain unaffected.  The trial court’s judgments are affirmed in all other respects.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Fred Chad Clark, II
M2010-00570-SC-R11-CD

This case involves the prosecution of a father in the Criminal Court for Davidson County for the sexual abuse of his children. After a jury found him guilty of seven counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery, the trial court imposed an effective thirtyfour-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant took issue with (1) the admissibility of recordings of his confession to his wife, (2) the adequacy of the corroboration of his confession, (3) the admissibility of evidence of his predilection for adult pornography, and (4) the propriety of a jury instruction that the mental state of “recklessness” could support a conviction for both rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. After upholding the admission of the defendant’s confession to his wife and the jury instructions, the Court of Criminal Appeals decided that the admission of the evidence of the defendant’s predilection for adult pornography, while erroneous, was harmless. The Court of Criminal Appeals also determined that the record contained sufficient evidence to uphold three counts of rape of a child and the two counts of aggravated sexual battery. State v. Clark, No. M2010-00570-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3861242 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 6, 2012). We granted the defendant’s Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application for permission to appeal and now affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Supreme Court 11/10/14
Derrick Taylor v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02053-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Derrick Taylor, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that his guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Deangelo Sevier v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00363-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Deangelo Sevier, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Donald Ragland v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02778-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Donald Ragland, appeals the trial court’s denial of his “Motion to Reconsider Relief from Judgment,” asserting that he is entitled to relief based on testimony surrounding the affidavit supporting his arrest. We conclude that the petitioner does not have an appeal as of right from the denial of such motion and dismiss the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Landreo Lurry v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00337-CCA-R3-HC

The pro se petitioner, Landreo Lurry, appeals the order of the trial court dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that his petition failed to state a claim for habeas relief. The petitioner argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus, error coram nobis, and post-conviction relief because his Tennessee burglary convictions, which were used to enhance his federal firearms sentence, occurred following the improper transfer of his case from juvenile to criminal court without a transfer hearing or the representation of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers
W2013-00185-CCA-R3-CD

The husband-wife defendants, Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony, and attempted voluntary manslaughter, a Class D felony. Defendant Summers was also convicted of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. Defendant Jackson was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to concurrent terms of eight years for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and four years for the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction. Defendant Summers was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of three years for each of the manslaughter convictions and to six years for the firearm conviction, to be served consecutively to the three-year sentence. The defendants now appeal, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the denial of their motion to sever, and certain evidentiary rulings made by the court. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Ivy
W2013-02655-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Thomas Ivy, was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Ted H. Lowe, III et al. v. Joseph M. Brown et al.
E2013-00421-COA-R3-CV

This action arose over the unfulfilled terms of a condominium lease entered into between the defendant lessee and the lessor, whose estate initiated this action following the death of the lessor. A judgment in the amount of $16,120.36 was originally entered in favor of the estate by the Knox County General Sessions Court. The lessee appealed to the Knox County Circuit Court for a de novo proceeding, and the decedent’s personal representatives were substituted as parties for the estate. Following a non-jury trial, the circuit court entered a judgment in favor of the personal representatives in the amount of $15,882.28. The lessee appeals. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 11/10/14