Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 03/31/2015
Format: 03/31/2015
Derrick Richardson v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01554-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Derrick Richardson, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his two motions to reopen his post-conviction proceedings relative to his first degree felony murder conviction and resulting life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying his motions. We dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the Petitioner failed to comply with the statutory requirements governing an appeal from the denial of a motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/15
Doyle Haney v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00462-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Doyle Haney, appeals the Cocke County Circuit Court’s denial of his two petitions for post-conviction relief. In case number 3457, the Defendant was convicted of the sale of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine and received a thirty-year sentence. In case number 4924, he was convicted of delivering 0.5 grams or more of cocaine and received a thirty-year sentence. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying post-conviction relief because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cocke County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/15
State of Tennessee v. Billy Ray Allen
E2014-00967-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Billy Ray Allen, was convicted by a Sullivan County Criminal Court jury of facilitation of possession with the intent to sell or to deliver twenty-six grams or more of cocaine, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a) 4) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (possession with intent to sell and to deliver); 39-11-403(a) (2014) (facilitation). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to six years’ confinement. In this delayed appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/15
Danny Long Et Al v. Quad Power Products, LLC et al.
E2013-02708-COA-R3-CV

This is a product liability action arising from a workplace injury to the plaintiff, Danny Long. Mr. Long’s left arm was severely injured on October 30, 2002, when a reducing mechanism attached to a ball valve he was using suddenly broke, causing a release of pressurized air and water onto his left arm and shoulder. Following lengthy medical treatment and multiple surgeries, Mr. Long’s left arm was amputated. On October 30, 2003, Mr. Long and his wife filed a complaint alleging, inter alia, negligence in the design, manufacture, assembly, distribution, and sale of the ball valve, as well as failure to warn of potential danger to users of the ball valve and failure to include with the ball valve adequate safety information relative to its use. The Longs named four companies as defendants allegedly responsible for the design, manufacture, assembly, distribution, and sale of the ball valve. Mr. Long’s employer was subsequently joined as an intervening plaintiff. Through the course of the proceedings, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of two of the defendant companies on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction. These defendants are not parties to this appeal. Mr. Long died on December 22, 2006, and Ms. Long thereafter by substitution assumed his interest in this action. In May 2010, the trial court granted Ms. Long and the intervening plaintiff permission to amend the complaint to reassert a strict liability claim against the two remaining defendant companies based upon the sole theory of failure to warn. In May 2013, the two remaining defendants subsequently filed separate motions for summary judgment. Finding that no genuine issue of material fact existed that could establish strict liability based upon failure to warn, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of both remaining defendants. Ms. Long and the employer appeal. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 03/20/15
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Moses
E2014-01013-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Kenneth Moses, was charged by presentment for one count of rape of a child and one count of incest. A  jury found Defendant guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced Defendant to consecutive sentences of 25 years for rape of a child and six years for incest. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering his sentences to run consecutively. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/15
State of Tennessee v. William Eugene Hall
M2012-00336-SC-DDT-DD

The defendant was convicted on two counts of felony murder in the perpetration of a first degree burglary, three counts of grand larceny, one count of petit larceny, and three counts of first degree burglary. The jury imposed a sentence of death for the murder of one victim and a life sentence for the murder of the second victim. The trial court ordered an aggregate sentence of eighty years for the remaining crimes, to be served consecutively to the life sentence. The direct appeal was decided adversely to the defendant. On post-conviction review, this Court granted the defendant a delayed appeal and remanded to the trial court based upon the lack of meaningful representation during the original direct appeal. The trial court denied relief, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. We affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Humphreys County Supreme Court 03/20/15
State of Tennessee v. William Eugene Hall - CONCUR
M2012-00336-SC-DDT-DD

I concur fully with the Court’s opinion except for Section III(E), which reaffirms the proportionality review performed in Mr. Hall’s original direct appeal. Because I believe this Court used an improper method for analyzing the proportionality of Mr. Hall’s death sentence, I have conducted an independent proportionality review. Upon doing so, I concur with the Court’s conclusion that Mr. Hall’s death sentence is not disproportionate to the sentences imposed on other similar offenders who have committed similar crimes.

Humphreys County Supreme Court 03/20/15
State of Tennessee v. Levar O. Williams
E2014-01068-CCA-R3-CD

The petitioner, Levar O. Williams, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Following our review of the briefs of the parties, the record, and the applicable authorities, we conclude that the petitioner failed to file a timely notice of appeal and that the “interest of justice” does not warrant waiver of the timely notice requirement. As a result, we dismiss his appeal.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/15
State of Tennessee v. David Muangkhot
M2014-01029-CCA-R3-CD

In January 2005, David Muangkhot (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of sale of a Schedule I controlled substance and one count of possession of a Schedule I controlled substance with the intent to sell.  Pursuant to a plea agreement, the trial court imposed concurrent, 10-year sentences and ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement.  Following the completion of a boot camp program, the Defendant was released and placed on supervised probation for the remainder of his sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-20-206.  In April 2014, the trial court issued a violation of probation warrant and, following a hearing, revoked the Defendant’s probation and imposed the Defendant’s original sentence.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve his sentence.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/15
Christopher M. Black v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01607-CCA-R3-PC

In 2006, the Petitioner, Christopher M. Black, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated robbery, for which the Petitioner received an effective sentence of 50 years in the Department of Correction.  On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentence.Thereafter, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was denied following a hearing.  On appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel’s failure to hire a DNA expert to analyze the evidence against the Petitioner.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/15
Mary Kindred v. National College of Business and Technology, Inc., et al.
W2014-00413-COA-R3-CV

A former student at National College of Business and Technology, Inc. (“National College”) sued the school and its director for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act following the cancellation of her enrollment due to the fact her student file did not contain an official copy of her high school transcript or the equivalency certificate as required by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Plaintiff’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act were dismissed pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Thereafter, Defendants moved to summarily dismiss Plaintiff’s remaining claim for breach of contract. The trial court found that Defendants negated two essential elements of Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim, namely, breach and damages, and summarily dismissed that claim. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
In Re Conservatorship of Karen Klyce Smith
W2014-01044-COA-R3-CV

The substantive issue in this case is whether the decedent was a domiciliary of Tennessee or Texas at the time of her death. Because Appellant was not an original party and did not file a motion to intervene in this case, we dismiss this appeal for lack of standing and remand the case for further proceedings as are necessary and consistent with this Opinion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
State of Tennessee v. James Pennock
W2013-02526-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, James Pennock, was convicted by a Dyer County jury of three counts of sale of a Schedule II controlled substance. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to establish the Defendant's identity as the person who committed the offenses; (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury regarding eyewitness identification testimony; and (3) the trial court erred in allowing the co-defendant, Nora Gibson, to testify without proper notice provided to the Defendant. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/15
Thomas Edward Kotewa v. Brenda Jones, Warden
W2014-01290-CCA-R3-HC

Pro se petitioner, Thomas Edward Kotewa, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief by the Lauderdale County Circuit Court. In this appeal, the Petitioner argues that the habeas corpus court erred in denying his petition because the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to accept his plea of guilty. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/15
In Re: Anna D.
M2014-00995-COA-R3-PT

This case involves the termination of a biological father’s parental rights to a young child. The trial court granted the mother and step-father’s petition to terminate the father’s rights and to allow the step-father to adopt the child. Father appeals. We affirm the trial court’s judgment. The evidence is clear and convincing that (1) the father abandoned the child by failing to visit and failing to support her for four months preceding the filing of the petition and (2) it is in the child’s best interest that the father’s parental rights be terminated.

Maury County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
Allen Mathis, et al v. City of Waynesboro
M2014-00864-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the City of Waynesboro. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on May 5, 2006, alleging that acts and/or omissions of the City caused injury to them on May 6, 2003, when a creek near their home flooded and damaged their property. The City moved for summary judgment. The trial court found that the material facts were not in dispute and that Plaintiffs’ lawsuit was time-barred by the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act’s statute of limitations. Moreover, the trial court found that the City was immune from liability for the claims. Accordingly, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the City. After thoroughly reviewing the record on appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wayne County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
In Re: Caleb B.
M2013-02564-COA-R3-JV

This case involves a custody dispute between two parents and a non-parent intervener. Father originally filed a petition against Mother requesting a change of custody, but the couple reconciled and began living together while the litigation was pending. Thereafter, the maternal grandmother intervened, seeking custody of the child. The trial court found that Father presented a substantial risk of harm to the child based on his prior and current criminal history but granted Mother custody of the child. On appeal, Grandmother argues the court erred in not finding that Mother also presented a risk of substantial harm to the child because Mother lived with Father. We affirm the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
State of Tennessee v. Charles B. Davis
M2013-01903-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County jury convicted Defendant, Charles B. Davis, of one count of theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000, one count of theft of property valued under $500, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.  In addition, the Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated burglary but was acquitted of an additional count of aggravated burglary.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction as a Range II, persistent offender.  On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal as to Counts 2 and 5 as there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for theft of property and employing a firearm during a dangerous felony and (2) the trial erred when it denied his motion for new trial because the trial court failed to properly function as the thirteenth juror as the verdicts were against the weight of the evidence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Marquize Berry
W2014-00785-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Marquize Berry, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of attempted second degree murder, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm but order certain clerical amendments to the judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Marquize Berry-Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2014-00785-CCA-R3-CD

I concur in the excellent lead opinion by Judge Witt. I write separately, however, because I do not agree that the judgment form for Count 3 needs to be corrected. In this case, the learned trial judge entered a judgment on Count 3 to effectuate the jury‟s finding of guilty of a violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324(b)(1), the offense of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. When an offender does not have a prior felony, the punishment for violation of this statute is at least a mandatory minimum six-year sentence in the department of correction. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-24-1324(h)(1).

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Derishon Wadlington
W2013-02521-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Derishon Wadlington, was detained in a Union City Walmart store, after being observed attempting to leave the premises without paying for a belt, which she had in her possession. Union City police officers were called and, taking the defendant into custody, found a small clear bag containing a green leafy substance in her purse. At the jail, her purse was inventoried and found to contain a large clear bag containing a white powder, which was determined to be cocaine. She filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which was granted after the trial court determined that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest the defendant. The State appealed. Following our review, we conclude that the officers had probable cause to arrest the defendant, and, thus, the subsequent search of her purse was lawful. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s suppression of the evidence and remand the matter to the trial court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Derishon Wadlington-Dissenting
W2013-02521-CCA-R3-CD

I respectfully dissent. First, I disagree with the majority’s conclusion that the trial judge determined that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest Defendant. The majority quoted the trial court’s ruling, which I interpret bases the decision on the fact that the officers took Defendant into custodial arrest in violation of a statute that mandated the issuance of a citation in lieu of custodial arrest. The trial court’s reasoning was that since custodial arrest was invalid, the resulting search was invalid, and thus all evidence found in Defendant’s purse must be suppressed.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/15
Pamela Barkley, et al. v. Shelby County Board of Education
W2014-00417-COA-R3-CV

Action under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act to recover for injuries sustained in a slip and fall at a school operated by the Shelby County Board of Education. In a bench trial, the court held the school board 60% liable and plaintiff 40% liable and awarded plaintiffs damages totaling $29,400. The Board of Education appeals the holdings that it was negligent, that its immunity was removed, and that the plaintiff was less than 50% at fault for her injury. While the evidence does not preponderate against the finding that plaintiff fell on water in the school hallway, there is no evidence that the Board had notice of the water; consequently, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the case.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/18/15
In Re Agustine R. et al.
E2014-01091-COA-R3-PT
This is a termination of parental rights appeal brought by the father. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence to support termination of the father’s parental rights on the statutory grounds of abandonment for failure to remit child support and failure to comply with the permanency plans. The court also found that termination of the father’s parental rights was in the best interest of the children. The father appeals. We affirm. 
Sevier County Court of Appeals 03/17/15
State of Tennessee v. William Kenneth Lawson
M2014-00612-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, William Kenneth Lawson, appeals the revocation of his probationary sentence. He pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and violation of his habitual traffic offender status. As a result, he was sentenced to an effective term of eight years on supervised probation. Subsequently, a violation warrant was issued alleging that the defendant had violated the terms and conditions of his probation agreement by being arrested on new charges. Following a hearing, the trial court ordered revocation of the probation and that the defendant serve the remainder of his sentence in incarceration. On appeal, the defendant contends that there is not sufficient evidence in the record to support the court’s finding that a violation occurred. Following review of the record, we conclude that there was no abuse of discretion in the court’s decision to revoke probation. As such, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/15