Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 11/28/2014
Format: 11/28/2014
State of Tennessee v. Rudy Vincent Dunn
M2014-00076-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Rudy Vincent Dunn, entered a plea without a recommended sentence to one count of possession of not less than one-half ounce nor more than ten pounds of marijuana with intent to sell or deliver, a Class E felony.  Following a separate sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to serve one year and ninety days in confinement.  In this appeal, appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of his request for alternative sentencing.  Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Puckett
W2013-02556-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Marcus Puckett, was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and DUI per se. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401. The trial court merged the two charges, and the Defendant was sentenced to eleven months twenty-nine days, with all but seven days suspended, to be followed by supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant makes the following arguments: (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence of his blood-alcohol level based on an illegal search and seizure; (2) that the trial court erred in concluding that the State met its burden in proving compliance with State v. Sensing, 843 S.W.2d 412 (1992), and thus, should not have allowed the testing officer to testify regarding the results of his breath-alcohol test; and (3) that his constitutional rights were violated because the trial court failed to conduct a hearing pursuant to Momon v. State, 18 S.W.3d 152 (Tenn. 1999), following his decision not to testify at trial. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress based on an illegal search and seizure. We further hold that the trial court improperly concluded that the State complied with the Sensing requirements, and we therefore reverse the Defendant’s conviction and remand to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. Finally, although we conclude that the trial court’s failure to conduct a Momon hearing was plain error, we hold that such error does not necessitate further action from the trial court at this time because we have ordered a new trial on other grounds.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
C. Douglas Jones v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.
E2013-02451-SC-R3-WC

The employee alleged that he sustained a compensable back injury when a stool on which he was sitting collapsed, causing him to fall to the ground. His treating physician opined that he sustained permanent impairment as a result of the incident. Two evaluating doctors opined that his symptoms were related to a prior motor vehicle accident. The employee had not informed the treating physician of the prior motor vehicle accident nor of his prior history of back pain. The trial court found that he did not suffer a compensable injury. The employee has appealed. 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 affirm the judgment.

Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 11/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Brian Darnell
M2013-02540-CCA-R3-CD

In this appeal pursuant to Rule 37 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant, Christopher Brian Darnell, appeals two certified questions of law that arose from the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence obtained via wiretapping:  (1) whether the State provided the defendant with timely and adequate notice that his cellular telephone communications had been intercepted by law enforcement officers and (2) whether the State failed to show the required necessity in its application to monitor the defendant’s telephone communications.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
Shawn Hatcher v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01767-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Shawn Hatcher, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for not putting on expert proof to support his defense theory of diminished capacity and that the post-conviction court erred by relying on Denton v. State and Black v. State to deny his petition on the basis that he failed to present the expert witness’ proposed trial testimony at the evidentiary hearing. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
Derrick Garrin v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00052-CCA-R3-ECN

The petitioner, Derrick Garrin, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition challenged his 1994 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of felony murder and two counts of attempted second degree murder on grounds that his sentence was imposed in contravention of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Silio Hilerio-Alfaro, Pablo Chavez and Isidro Perez
W2013-01819-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Silio Hilerio-Alfaro, was convicted as charged by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of one count of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell, one count of possession of .5 grams of more of cocaine with the intent to deliver, and one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court merged the delivery count with the sale count and imposed an effective sentence of eleven years. On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and vacate the Defendant-Appellant’s convictions.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/19/14
Demond Hughlett v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02159-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Demond Hughlett, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that counsel was ineffective in failing to obtain a determination from a medical expert or the court regarding his competency to stand trial and in failing to inform him of his right to file a motion to reduce his sentence or to appeal his sentence. The Petitioner also argues that counsel’s errors rendered his guilty plea involuntary and unknowing. Upon review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Atosha Dominique Moore
M2013-02552-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Atosha Dominique Moore, pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to two counts of aggravated robbery, and the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, he challenges the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Marty Joe Kelley v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02485-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Marty Joe Kelley, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for five counts of rape of a child, three counts of aggravated sexual battery, nine counts of rape without consent, eighteen counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor and resulting effective sentence of thirty-six years to be served at 100%.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Eric T. Gilbert
M2014-00473-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Eric T. Gilbert, appeals the Robertson County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his five-year sentence in confinement.  Discerning no error, we affirm

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Steve Carl King v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01722-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Steve Carl King, appeals the Giles County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of attempted first degree premeditated murder and resulting twenty-two-year sentence.  On appeal, the Petitioner raises numerous claims regarding his receiving the ineffective assistance of counsel.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Commercial Painting Company, Inc. v. The Weitz Company, LLC et al.
W2013-01989-COA-R3-CV

In this construction contract dispute, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant general contractor as to all of the plaintiff subcontractor’s tort claims. The parties proceeded to trial on the remaining issues and judgment was awarded in favor of the subcontractor. Both parties raise numerous issues on appeal. Because we conclude that the trial court applied an improper standard in granting summary judgment, we vacate the order of summary judgment in favor of the general contractor. In addition, because the subcontractor’s tort claims may alter the remaining issues in this case, we decline to consider the remaining issues raised by the parties. Vacated and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/18/14
In Re: Cidney L.
W2014-00779-COA-R3-PT

Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights. She argues that the trial court erred in holding that clear and convincing evidence established that she engaged in conduct exhibiting a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child prior to her incarceration and that termination was in the child’s best interest. We have determined that there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support both of the trial court’s findings. We affirm.

Crockett County Court of Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Jaleel Jovan Stovall
W2013-02553-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jaleel Jovan Stovall, was convicted by a jury of rape of a child, and the trial court imposed a twenty-five-year sentence at 100% for this conviction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction beyond a reasonable doubt because he was mistaken as to the victim’s age. Deeming the evidence sufficient, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Terry Norris
W2000-00707-CCA-R3-CD

In this procedurally complex case, a Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Terry Norris, of second degree murder in 1999, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-one years of incarceration. After several proceedings and filings, discussed in detail below, the U.S. Sixth Circuit granted the Defendant habeas corpus relief unless the State allowed the Defendant to reopen his original direct appeal and raise an issue regarding whether his confession should have been suppressed pursuant to County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991). The State allowed the Defendant to reopen his appeal. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress his confession to police because he gave his confession after being held for more than forty-eight hours without a probable cause hearing. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that we must address the issue before us for plain error. After conducting our plain error review, we conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
James E. Hurd v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00137-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, James E. Hurd, appeals as of right from the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to obtain certain discovery materials, failing to adequately communicate with him, and failing to interview and call several character witnesses at trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Travis F. Chapman v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02059-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Travis F. Chapman, pled guilty to attempted second degree murder and was sentenced to twelve years in incarceration as a Range I, Standard Offender. Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary. The postconviction court denied relief, finding that Petitioner failed to prove his claims by clear and convincing evidence. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Caronna
W2013-00845-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Joseph Caronna, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree murder of his wife and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that his right to a speedy trial was violated and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. He also argues that the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence, including prior acts of financial fraud; bad acts relating to the victim’s mother; an extramarital affair; and the victim’s statements concerning the closing on a new house. After a thorough review, we discern no reversible error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Centimark Corporation v. Maszera Company, LLC.
E2013-02689-COA-R3-CV

This suit arises as a result of a contract to install a roof on a commercial building. The building’s owner argued that the roof has leaked since its installation and that the roofer would not or could not satisfactorily repair it. The roofer asserted that the roof had experienced some leaks but that all had been repaired. The roofer alleged that it had performed according to the contract and sued for total payment. The owner of the building alleged, inter alia, that the roofer breached the contract by failing to provide adequate materials and proper workmanship and filed a counter-complaint. The trial court issued its ruling in favor of the building owner on the counter-complaint and awarded $220,374.96 in damages. The court dismissed the roofer’s suit. The court also dismissed the building owner’s other claims against the roofer for deceptive business practices and for filing an improper lien. Both sides appeal. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 11/18/14
In Re: J.C.B.
M2014-01112-COA-R3-PT

This appeal arises from a decision by the Juvenile Court for White County terminating Mother’s parental rights to her son. Child was placed into emergency custody by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS” or “the Department”), pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-113, when he was two months old after law enforcement officials found a methamphetamine lab in the living room of Mother’s apartment while Child and Father were present. The juvenile court issued a protective custody order and appointed a guardian ad litem for Child. Between that time and the termination hearing, three permanency plans were created. Mother was incarcerated multiple times and failed to complete any of the requirements of her permanency plans. DCS tried to schedule visitation for Mother, provide her information about rehabilitation programs, keep in contact with her, and administer drug screens,but it had difficulty due to Mother’s repeated incarcerations and failure to keep in contact with DCS. DCS filed a petition to terminate Mother’s parental rights. The court terminated Mother’s parental rights; held that the requirements of the permanency plans were all reasonable; and held that DCS made reasonable efforts to assist Mother in complying with the requirements of the plans. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

White County Court of Appeals 11/17/14
Ronald T. Daugherty v. Lavada J. Doyle, et al
M2013-02509-COA-R3-CV

A shareholder in a closely-held family business brought this action pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 48-26-102(b) to inspect the company’s accounting records. The trial court determined that the shareholder’s request was made in good faith and for a proper purpose. On appeal, the defendants assert that the trial court erred in finding that the shareholder’s request was made in good faith and in awarding him his attorney fees and the expenses he incurred in hiring a forensic accountant. We reverse the trial court’s decision to award the shareholder the expenses he incurred for the forensic accountant, but remand for a determination of an award based on the accountant’s fees concerning testimony about whether the records requested by Mr. Daugherty were accounting records. In all other respects, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/17/14
Michael L. Schwartz, et al. v. Diagnostix Network Alliance, et al.
M2014-00006-COA-R3-CV

This case involves an agreement between a distributor of medical tests and a healthcare consultant. The agreement provided that the consultant would earn a commission on sales of the medical test that he solicited on behalf of the distributor. After several months, the distributor terminated the agreement. The consultant filed a lawsuit against the distributor. The consultant alleged that the distributor breached its duty of good faith under the contract by terminating the agreement in order to avoid paying commissions and by failing to provide an adequate sales force to assist the consultant in making sales. The consultant alleged that the distributor breached a separate verbal contract for the development of marketing materials. The consultant also alleged that the distributor fraudulently misrepresented its intent to compensate the consultant for his efforts in soliciting orders for the medical test. The trial court dismissed the consultant’s fraud claim and granted summary judgment to the distributor on each of the remaining claims.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court with respect to the consultant’s breach of good faith and fraud and misrepresentation claims. However, we find that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the consultant’s claim that the distributor breached a separate verbal contract. We also vacate and remand the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees for reconsideration after issues related to the verbal contract are resolved.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/17/14
Barbara M. Hicks Vick v. Brandon P. Hicks
W2013-02672-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the trial court’s dismissal of Appellant Brandon Hicks’ (“Husband”) petition to terminate his alimony obligation. After his ex-wife, Appellee Barbara Hicks Vick (“Wife”), remarried, Husband petitioned the trial court for relief under Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-121(g)(2)(C). Wife moved to dismiss Husband’s petition, arguing that the  parties’ marital dissolution agreement (“MDA”) contained a non-modification clause with respect to Husband’s alimony obligation. The trial court granted Wife’s motion, and Husband filed a timely appeal to this Court. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/17/14
Jerry Ray Davidson v. State of Tennessee - Concuring in Part and Dissenting in Part
M2010-02663-SC-R11-PD

Initially, no words adequately describe the horrible nature of this murder.  Nevertheless, I concur with the majority that a new sentencing hearing is warranted based upon the ineffective assistance of counsel at the penalty stage of the trial. Moreover, I believe that the deficiency in counsel's performance was such that an entirely new trial should be granted. In that regard, I dissent.

Supreme Court 11/17/14