Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/26/2015
Format: 04/26/2015
A.C. Odom v. J.B. Odom
E2014-01049-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a petition to terminate alimony. A.C. Odom (“Husband”) filed a petition to terminate his alimony obligation to his ex-wife J.B. Odom (“Wife”) in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”).1 Husband’s petition was based on his retirement from his career as an orthopedic surgeon. The Trial Court found that there had not been a substantial or material change in circumstances and denied Husband’s petition to terminate alimony. Husband appealed to this Court. We find and hold that Husband’s retirement was objectively reasonable, that it constitutes a substantial and material change in circumstances, that Wife is no longer economically disadvantaged relative to Husband, and Husband’s alimony obligation to Wife is terminated henceforth. We reverse the judgment of the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 04/14/15
In Re E.G.H. et al.
E2014-01146-COA-R3-PT

S.J. (Mother) challenges the order terminating her parental rights to her minor children, E.G.H. and E.W.H. (collectively, the Children). The Children were removed from Mother’s custody as a result of (1) Mother’s drug use during pregnancy as well as (2) domestic violence in the home. In 2009, a year after the Children came into state custody, they were placed in the custody of an uncle, V.E.E. (Uncle), and his wife, J.G.E. (Aunt) (collectively, Petitioners). In 2012, Petitioners filed a petition seeking termination of the biological parents’ rights and the adoption of the Children. Following a trial, the court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mother abandoned the Children by willfully failing to visit them. By the same evidentiary standard, the court determined that termination is in the Children’s best interest. On this appeal, Mother challenges the sufficiency of the evidence proffered to establish a ground for termination and the trial court’s best interest decision. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/14/15
Suzanne King v. Greene County School System
E2014-00484-SC-R3-WC

An employee injured her back in a fall while working for her employer. The trial court assessed an 8% impairment to the body as a whole and awarded permanent partial disability benefits. The employer appealed, arguing that the employee failed to prove causation and that the trial court erred in obligating the employer to pay unauthorized medical expenses. After our review of the record, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Greene County Workers Compensation Panel 04/14/15
Derek Williamson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00183-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Derek Williamson, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction for first degree murder and his life sentence. He contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/14/15
Colette Suzanne Turman v. Fred Turman
W2014-01297-COA-R3-CV

The trial court referred this divorce case to a Special Master, indicating that the issues to be decided by the Special Master would be determined by the parties. The Special Master limited her consideration to the valuation of the parties’ property. The trial court subsequently entered an order purporting to resolve all the remaining issues in the case. However, the trial court failed to make specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in its written order. Accordingly, we vacate and remand for further proceedings.

Henry County Court of Appeals 04/14/15
In re Alexis B.
E2014-00943-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on Alexis B., the minor child (“the Child”) of Katie R. (“Mother”) and Johnny R.B. (“Father”). On August 26, 2013, the Child's paternal grandparents, Johnny B. and Deborah B. (“Grandparents”), filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents and adopt the Child. Father subsequently agreed to surrender his parental rights to the Child, and he is not a party to this appeal. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that grounds existed to terminate the parental rights of Mother upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mother had abandoned the Child by willfully failing to provide financial support and willfully failing to visit the Child in the four months preceding the filing of the petition. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the Child's best interest. Mother has appealed. Having concluded that the evidence preponderates against a finding that Mother had the ability to financially support the Child during the determinative period, we reverse the trial court's finding that Mother abandoned the Child by willfully failing to provide support. We affirm the trial court's judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Mother's parental rights.

Cumberland County Court of Appeals 04/14/15
Christy L. Griffith v. Glen H. Griffith
E2014-00892-COA-R3-CV

This divorce case involves issues of property classification, valuation, and division. The parties were married for fifteen years, with one child born of the marriage. At the time the parties married, the husband owned an interest in his family's motorcycle dealership. The husband inherited remaining interests in that dealership from his parents during the marriage. At trial, the court found that the dealership was a separately owned asset that became marital property by reason of transmutation. The trial court also made determinations regarding the value of the dealership and the real property upon which it operates. Following these determinations, the trial court rendered what it considered to be an equitable division of the parties' marital assets. Husband has appealed. Because we determine the trial court's classification and valuation of the dealership to be in error, as well as the valuation of the business-related real property, we further determine the overall distribution of marital assets to be in error. We vacate the trial court's judgment with regard to those issues and remand for further proceedings. The balance of the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 04/14/15
Terry Earl Jackson v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01511-CCA-R3-PC
Petitioner, Terry Earl Jackson, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. He alleges that his sentences are illegal because his concurrent sentences had to run consecutively because he was on probation at the time of the offenses. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/14/15
In Re Jarett M.
W2014-01995-COA-R3-PT

This is a parental termination case. Father appeals the trial court’s termination of his parental rights with regard to the minor child at issue. The trial court terminated Father’s parental rights based on its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Father abandoned the child by willful failure to visit and willful failure to support the child. The trial court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination was in the best interests of the child. We affirm.

Dyer County Court of Appeals 04/13/15
John C. Crim v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00948-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, John C. Crim, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief for failure to state a colorable claim.  After careful review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we conclude that the petition alleged a colorable claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, thereby entitling Petitioner to appointed counsel and to an opportunity to amend his petition with the aid of post-conviction counsel.  Additional claims made by Petitioner were previously determined during his direct appeal and were, therefore, properly dismissed.  Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/15
John C. Crim v. State of Tennessee-Concurring in part and dissenting in part
M2014-00948-CCA-R3-PC

I respectfully dissent from that portion of the majority’s opinion which affirms part of the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal of the post-conviction petition. A colorable claim was made in the pro se petition. The post-conviction court clearly erred by summarily dismissing the petition. I conclude that upon remand under these circumstances the interests of justice dictate that the entire pro se petition must be considered by the post-conviction court. It may be that some of Petitioner’s claims have been waived or previously determined - but that should be determined after a full hearing. This court should not sanction a rush to judgment when a trial court has erred as in this case. Accordingly, I would respectfully reverse the order of the post-conviction court without affirming any portion of it.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/15
Fairy Berry v. City of Memphis
W2014-01236-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the trial court’s award of damages stemming from an automobile accident. In 2003, plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was struck by a Memphis Police Department officer’s car in an intersection. After a non-jury trial, the trial court awarded plaintiff damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The City of Memphis appeals these damages, arguing (1) plaintiff’s expert non-treating physician was not qualified to opine as to emergency room treatment or costs; (2) plaintiff should not recover for her failure to mitigate her damages by exacerbating her injury; and (3) plaintiff’s testimony wherein she explains her ongoing pain did not warrant the amount of damages she was awarded. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Amber Renee Terry
W2014-01628-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Amber Renee Terry, pled guilty to theft of property valued at $10,000 or more and official misconduct and was sentenced to a total effective sentence of three years, suspended to supervised probation. After a hearing, the trial court denied judicial diversion. Upon our review of the record, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying judicial diversion. Therefore, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/15
Tommy Nunley v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01776-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Tommy Nunley, appeals the denial of his petition for relief under the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. Because the post-conviction court properly determined that the evidence sought for analysis had been lost or destroyed, Petitioner is not entitled to relief. Accordingly, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/15
Dericko Jackson v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01453-CCA-R3-CO

In 1998, the Petitioner, Dericko Jackson, pleaded guilty to first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault. The trial court entered the agreed sentences of life imprisonment for the felony murder conviction, fifteen years for the especially aggravated robbery conviction, and three years for the aggravated assault conviction. The life sentence and the fifteen-year sentence were ordered to run consecutively, and the three-year sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the life sentence. The judgment forms for each of the three convictions reflect that the Petitioner is entitled to 480 days of pretrial jail credit. The Petitioner filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, asserting that his sentence was illegal because the life sentence and the fifteen-year sentence both reflected 480 days of jail credit, and the jail credit should have only been applied to one of these convictions. The trial court summarily denied the motion, and the Petitioner appealed. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that the trial court erred when it summarily dismissed his petition because he stated a colorable claim that his sentence is illegal. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Anthony Robey
M2014-00773-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Marcus Anthony Robey, timely filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea to the Class C felony offense of possessing a firearm at a time when he had previously been convicted of a felony offense involving the use or attempted use of force, violence, or a deadly weapon. The motion was filed after sentence had been imposed pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement which involved other convictions that are not a part of this appeal. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion. After review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/15
State of Tennessee v. George A. Mikita
M2014-00650-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, George A. Mikita, was implicated in two separate home invasions and charged with various crimes as a result.  Defendant entered guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated burglary, one count of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more, and one count of theft of property valued at $500 or more.  Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of thirteen years after a sentencing hearing.  Defendant appeals, challenging the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences under a theory dubbed “just desserts.”  After a review, we determine there is no evidence that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing Defendant to an effective sentence of thirteen years.  Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/15
Danny Dew v. Rees-Memphis, Inc., et al.
W2013-02528-SC-WCM-WC

An employee filed this action, seeking to compel his former employer to pay for a surgical procedure pursuant to the medical provision of a settlement approved by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The trial court granted the employer’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the action was barred by the one-year statute of limitations contained in Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-6-224(a)(3). The employee has appealed, arguing that § 50-6-224 does not apply to actions for post-judgment medical treatment. The employer seeks an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 20-12-119. 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 in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Dyer County Workers Compensation Panel 04/13/15
Johnny L. Smith, et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County
M2014-01325-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiffs sued the Metropolitan Government, claiming that prior citations that had  been issued to them and paid by them were issued without authority and handled by the general sessions court without jurisdiction.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the government.  The plaintiffs appealed, and we affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/13/15
In Re Jordin M.
M2013-02275-COA-R3-JV

In this juvenile court case, Father filed a petition to modify the parenting plan to make him the primary residential parent. At the beginning of the hearing, the parties stipulated that there had been a material change of circumstances. We have concluded that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s determination that it was in the child’s best interest for Mother to be the primary residential parent.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 04/09/15
State of Tennessee v. Bruce Lamont Smith
M2014-02092-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Bruce Lamont Smith, appeals the summary denial of his motion, filed pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/15
State of Tennessee v. William Valentine
E2014-00522-CCA-R3-CD
Following a jury trial, the Defendant, William Valentine, was convicted of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony, and aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-101, -13-102, -13-202. The Defendant was sentenced to sixteen years for the attempted first degree murder conviction and five years for the aggravated assault conviction.1 In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction for attempted first degree murder; (2) that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to suppress and allowing the State to cross-examine him regarding statements he made to the police; (3) that the trial court erred in admitting photographs depicting scars on the victim’s body from several gunshot wounds when the victim already displayed the scars to the jury during his testimony; (4) that the trial court erred in admitting the victim’s medical records; (5) that the trial court erred in admitting a recording of a 911 call made by a witness to the shooting; (6) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct; (7) that the trial court erred by not allowing the Defendant to testify regarding his opinion of a local nightclub; (8) that the trial court erred by not allowing the Defendant to introduce extrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent statement made by the victim; (9) that the trial court erred by denying the Defendant’s motion for a new trial on the grounds that the victim recanted a portion of his trial testimony; and (10) that the Defendant received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel.2 Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/15
Frederick Moore v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01740-CCA-R3-ECN

Appellant, Frederick Moore, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his convictions for first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of tampering with evidence and his effective sentence of life imprisonment plus twenty years. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/15
John Holmes Peacher-Ryan, et al. v. Heirs At Law of Ruth James Gaylor, et al.
W2013-02801-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal of the trial court’s adoption of a special master’s report. The trial court referred the case to the special master for determination of the proper heirs of a residuary trust. Because the procedure in the trial court failed to comply with the requirements of Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 53, we vacate and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/09/15
Kenneth Marino v. Board of Administration City of Memphis Retirement System
W2015-00069-COA-R3-CV

The order appealed is not a final judgment. Consequently, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/09/15