Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 08/29/2014
Format: 08/29/2014
State of Tennessee v. Gabriel Torres
M2013-00765-CCA-R3-CD

A Robertson County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Gabriel Torres, of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-five years in confinement to be served at 100%.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction and that the trial court failed to fulfill its role as the thirteenth juror.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/14
Quantel Taylor v. State of Tennessee
W2012-00760-SC-R11-PC

The petitioner pled guilty to charges of attempted first degree murder, second degree murder,
and especially aggravated robbery. Later, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief,
claiming that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly
and voluntarily made. When the petitioner subpoenaed his three co-defendants to testify at
the post-conviction hearing, the State filed a motion to quash because the co-defendants were
all incarcerated. The post-conviction court granted the State’s motion. The Court of
Criminal Appeals ruled that the post-conviction court had erred, but held that the error was
harmless under the circumstances. We hold that the post-conviction court committed
prejudicial error by applying an incorrect legal standard and by failing to consider whether
the proposed testimony by the co-defendants was material to the petitioner’s claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel. Because the record is insufficient for the issue to be
resolved on appeal, we remand for the post-conviction court to reconsider the motion to
quash under the proper standard. The judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed,
and the case is remanded to the post-conviction court for additional proceedings consistent
with this opinion.
Tenn. R. App. P. 11

Crockett County Supreme Court 08/21/14
Tracy Lynn Cope v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02590-CCA-R3-ECN

In 2007, a Sullivan County jury convicted the Petitioner, Tracy Lynn Cope, of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, and false imprisonment, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of forty years. State v. Tracy Lynn Cope, No. E2009-00435-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2025469 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, May 20, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 22, 2010). After the Petitioner filed two petitions for post-conviction relief, both of which were denied, he filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, which the trial court summarily dismissed. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the lower court erred when it dismissed his petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the coram nobis court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/14
Shirley M. Cartwright v. Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company
M2013-02019-COA-R3-CV

Shirley M. Cartwright (“Plaintiff”) sued Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company (“Defendant”) alleging breach of a contract of insurance. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. After a hearing, the Circuit Court for Maury County (“the Trial Court”) entered an order finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s motion was untimely and would not be considered and that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment. Plaintiff appeals raising issues regarding whether the Trial Court erred in finding her response untimely, whether the Trial Court erred in granting Defendant summary judgment, and whether the Trial Court erred in denying two other motions filed by Plaintiff. We find and hold that Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was filed timely. We, therefore, reverse the Trial Court’s decision finding Plaintiff’s response untimely and refusing to consider it. As it was error to refuse to consider Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, we vacate the grant of summary judgment to Defendant and the Trial Court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motions and remand this case to the Trial Court for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Maury County Court of Appeals 08/21/14
William D. Stalker, et al. v. David R. Nutter, et al.
M2013-02463-COA-R3-CV

In this non-jury case, builders of a home appeal the dismissal of their breach of contract claim against the prospective buyers, the court’s determination that the builders breached the construction and sale agreement, and the order awarding the earnest money deposit to the buyers. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 08/21/14
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Moore
W2013-02763-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Marcus Moore, entered guilty pleas without recommended sentences to two counts of burglary of a building, a Class D felony. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed sentences of twelve years as a career offender for each count to be served consecutively to each other. Appellant now challenges the trial court’s alignment of his sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Lona Parker
W2013-02446-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Lona Parker, was indicted for and convicted of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. The trial court sentenced him to twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction as a career offender. He now appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Iris A. Jones
M2013-00938-CCA-R3-CD

A Cheatham County jury convicted the Defendant, Iris A. Jones, of driving under the influence (“DUI”), first offense, and vehicular assault.  The Defendant filed an application seeking judicial diversion.  The trial court merged the DUI conviction into the vehicular assault conviction and granted the Defendant’s motion for judicial diversion.  On appeal, the State contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it found that the Defendant was eligible for judicial diversion.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the Defendant is not a “qualified defendant” for judicial diversion.  Accordingly, the case is reversed and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Iris A. Jones-Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part
M2013-00938-CCA-R3-CD

Joseph M. Tipton, P.J., concurring in part; dissenting in part.

I respectfully disagree with the majority opinion’s conclusion that this court may consider the State’s appeal of the trial court’s granting judicial diversion as an appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(c)(4), but I believe the court can accept the appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 10 as an extraordinary appeal.  In this regard, I agree with the majority opinion’s conclusion that the trial court erred in granting judicial diversion.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/14
In Re Aireona H.W.
E2014-00241-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case in which the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate Mother’s parental rights to the Child. The trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of Mother’s parental rights on several statutory grounds and that termination of her rights was in the Child’s best interest. Mother appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 08/20/14
First Community Bank, N.A. v. First Tennessee Bank, N.A., et al.
E2012-01422-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants for fraud, constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Tennessee Securities Act, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated section 48-1-101, et seq. The claims arose out of the purchase of asset-backed securities that were later deemed unmarketable, causing a significant financial loss to Plaintiff. Defendants filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12.02(6), arguing that the claims were untimely, that Plaintiff failed to plead its claims with particularity, and that the losses were caused by general market conditions. Nonresident Defendants also objected to the court’s personal jurisdiction. The trial court dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal to this court, and we affirmed the
dismissal against Nonresident Defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction but reversed the dismissal for failure to state a claim as to the remaining defendants. In so holding, this court found that consideration of matters outside the pleadings pertaining to the running of the statute of limitations converted the motions to dismiss into one for summary judgment, thereby requiring remand of the entire case for further discovery. The remaining defendants filed an application for permission to appeal. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the application and remanded the case for “consideration of the trial court’s alternative basis of dismissal of [the] complaint, i.e., the failure to state a cause of action or state a claim for which relief can be granted (other than on the basis of the running of the applicable statutes
of limitations or repose).” Upon remand, we reverse the decision of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 08/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Tycorrian M. Taylor
E2013-02875-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant appeals the sentence imposed for conviction of attempted voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/14
Cumecus R. Cates v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00011-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se petitioner appeals the summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, per Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we find the petitioner’s motion stated a colorable Rule 36.1 claim for review of illegal sentences. Therefore, we reverse the trial court's summary dismissal and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Somer D. Wild
E2013-01777-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Somer D. Wild, was indicted for driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor. After the trial court denied her motion to suppress the legality of the traffic stop, the defendant pled guilty to the offense and was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended following the service of forty-eight hours in jail. As part of her plea of guilty, the defendant reserved as a certified question of law the legality of the traffic stop of her vehicle. Following our review of the record and the video recording of the traffic stop, we conclude that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of conviction and dismiss the indictment.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/14
Jerry Simons v. A. O. Smith Corporation
M2013-01350-WC-R3-WC

An employee alleged he injured his back on two occasions during late 2008.  His employer initially accepted the second claim as compensable, but then denied the claim after receiving records from the employee’s primary care physician. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development denied the employee’s Request for Assistance. This civil action was subsequently filed in the Chancery Court for Montgomery County. That court awarded workers’ compensation benefits to the employee. The employer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings concerning causation and permanency. 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 of the trial court.
 

Montgomery County Workers Compensation Panel 08/20/14
Madia Dia v. Imports Collision Center, Inc.
M2013-01496-WC-R3-WC

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation 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.  Employee filed a request for reconsideration pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-241(d)(1)(B), which Employer opposed on the ground that Employee’s loss of employment was due to Employee’s voluntary resignation and/or his employment-related misconduct.  The trial court ruled that Employer failed to carry its burden of proof as to either of the asserted grounds for denying reconsideration.  The trial court therefore granted Employee’s request for reconsideration and awarded increased benefits.  Based on our review of the entire record, we reverse the trial court’s judgment.
 

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 08/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Stevie Gibson
W2013-02015-CCA-R3-CD

Stevie Gibson (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of second degree murder and one count of aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the two murder convictions and sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective term of thirty-seven years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and his sentence. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Emmett Lamon Roseman
M2013-02150-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Emmett Lamon Roseman, pled guilty to possession of marijuana, the sale of crack cocaine, the delivery of crack cocaine, and three counts of failure to appear.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the length of the sentences and the imposition of consecutive sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/19/14
Joseph Kindred v. Jerry Lester, Warden
W2014-00066-CCA-R3-HC

In 2010, the Petitioner, Joseph Kindred, pleaded guilty to multiple counts involving conspiracy to sell drugs within a school zone, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In 2013, the Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief, which was summarily dismissed by the habeas corpus court. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that the habeas corpus court erred when it dismissed his petition, contending that the trial court did not have the jurisdiction or authority to sentence him for the conspiracy convictions because he was not indicted for conspiracy. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the habeas court’s judgment.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/19/14
Daniel Cohen v. Julie Didier (Cohen)
M2013-01370-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves the execution of documents in furtherance of the property division in a divorce decree. The parties were divorced many years ago. To carry out the property division, the final decree of divorce ordered the parties to execute copyright assignments. Twenty-five years later, the ex-husband filed this action to compel the ex-wife to execute the copyright assignments. The ex-wife argued that the action was barred by the ten-year statute of limitations applicable to an action on a judgment. Relying on Jordan v. Jordan, 147 S.W.3d 255 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2004), the trial court held that execution of the documents was a ministerial act to effectuate the property division in the divorce decree and was not execution on a judgment, so the action was not barred by the statute of limitations. After the ex-wife still failed to execute the copyright assignment documents, the trial court designated the clerk of the court to act for the ex-wife to execute them, pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 70. The ex-wife appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/19/14
Ram Tool & Supply Co., Inc. Et Al. v. HD Supply Construction Supply, LTD. d/b/a Whit Cap Construction Supply, Robert Maples and Tim Pruitt
M2016-02264-COA-R3-CV

The parties in this case are competitors. The defendant company opened a branch in Nashville and began competing with the plaintiff; the defendant company hired employees away from the plaintiff and it allegedly worked with a now-former employee of the plaintiff to obtain plaintiff’s confidential information.  The plaintiff filed suit alleging, among other things, breach of the fiduciary duty of loyalty by unlawfully recruiting, aiding and abetting such breach,and conspiracyto unlawfully recruit. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants,finding the plaintiff’s claims preempted by the Tennessee Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“TUTSA”). We affirm in part and reverse in part and we remand for further proceedings. Specifically, we find preempted by TUTSA, Ram Tool’s common law breach of fiduciary duty/loyalty claim–and its derivative claims–insofar as they are based upon the misappropriation of trade secrets. However, we find Ram Tool’s common law breach of fiduciary duty/loyalty claim–and its derivative claims–insofar as they are not grounded in the misappropriation of trade secrets, are not preempted by TUTSA; summary judgment was improperly granted as to these claims.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/19/14
Mack Phillips, Et Al. v. Montgomery County, Tennessee, Et Al.
M2012-00737-SC-R11-CV

We granted permission to appeal to determine whether article I, section 21 of the Tennessee Constitution requires a government to compensate a property owner for a regulatory taking of private property. We hold that article I, section 21 encompasses regulatory takings in the same manner as the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals dismissing the property owners’ complaint alleging a state constitutional regulatory takings claim and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

Montgomery County Supreme Court 08/18/14
R. Sadler Bailey v. Board of Professional Responsibility
W2013-01979-SC-R3-BP

The Board of Professional Responsibility instituted a lawyer disciplinary proceeding against an attorney based on complaints it received from a judge and opposing counsel regarding the attorney’s disruptive behavior during trial proceedings. A hearing panel found that the attorney had violated several Rules of Professional Conduct and suspended him from the practice of law for sixty days. On appeal, the Chancery Court for Shelby County affirmed the hearing panel’s finding that the attorney had violated several ethical rules but reversed the suspension, instead recommending a public censure. The Board of Professional Responsibility appealed to this Court. We reverse the Chancery Court’s reduction of discipline and reinstate the hearing panel’s imposition of a sixty-day suspension.

Shelby County Supreme Court 08/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Ant-Juan Nelson
E2013-01414-CCA-R3-CD

Demarcus Ant-Juan Nelson (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine within 1000 feet of a school. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty years’ incarceration. The plea agreement provided for reservation of a certified question of law as to whether the Defendant’s seizure was lawful. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the Defendant is entitled to no relief. However, we remand this matter to the trial court for entry of corrected judgment orders indicating that count two was dismissed. In all other respects, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Jimmy Dale Qualls
W2013-01440-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jimmy Dale Qualls, was convicted by a Hardeman County Circuit Court jury of thirty-seven counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, Class C felonies. See T.C.A. § 39-13-527 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to five years for each conviction and ordered partial consecutive sentences. The thirty-seven counts were separated into seven groups for sentencing purposes. Group A contained counts 1 through 6, Group B contained Counts 7 and 8, Group C contained Counts 9 through 14, Group D contained Counts 15 though 20, Group E contained Counts 21 through 26, Group F contained Counts 27 through 32, and Group G contained Counts 33 to 37. The court ordered each group to run consecutively to each other, for an effective thirty-five-year sentence. The court further ordered the effective thirty-five-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that the State failed to make a proper election of the offenses and that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We conclude that the State failed to make an adequate election of the offenses, and we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/14