Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 09/02/2014
Format: 09/02/2014
State of Tennessee v. Ladarron S. Gaines
M2013-02272-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Ladarron S. Gaines, of evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle in which the flight or attempt to elude created a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders or other third parties, a Class D felony.  After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to eight years in confinement.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by denying his motion to exclude testimony regarding a surveillance video, and that his sentence is excessive.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/22/14
State of Tennessee v. Jerry Kirkpatrick
E2013-01917-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jerry Kirkpatrick, was indicted for burglary and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, both Class D felonies. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-14-103, -105, -402. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was acquitted of the burglary charge and convicted of the theft charge. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to seven years. The trial court ordered the Defendant’s sentence to run consecutively to his sentence for a prior conviction. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction because the testimony of his accomplice was not sufficiently corroborated and (2) that the trial court erred in ordering his sentence to be served consecutively to a prior sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/22/14
State of Tennessee v. Noura Jackson
W2009-01709-SC-R11-CD

The defendant was charged with the June 2005 first degree premeditated murder of her
mother. The jury convicted her of second degree murder after a trial in which the evidence
was entirely circumstantial. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed her conviction and
sentence, although the judges on the Panel were not unanimous as to the rationale for the
decision. We granted the defendant’s application for permission to appeal. We hold that the
lead prosecutor’s remark during final closing argument at trial amounted to a constitutionally
impermissible comment upon the defendant’s exercise of her state and federal constitutional
right to remain silent and not testify. We also hold that the prosecution violated the
defendant’s constitutional right to due process by failing to turn over until after trial the third
statement a key witness gave to law enforcement officers investigating the murder. The State
has failed to establish that these constitutional errors were harmless beyond a reasonable
doubt. Therefore, we vacate the defendant’s conviction and sentence and remand for a new
trial.

Shelby County Supreme Court 08/22/14
Theresa R. Francis v. Robert A. Francis, Jr.
M2013-01957-COA-R3-CV

Wife appeals the trial court’s division of property and denial of an award of alimony in this divorce action. We affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 08/22/14
Middle TN Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC. v. Health Services & Development Agency, et al.
M2013-02180-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a petition for judicial review of the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency’s decision to deny one and grant the other of two competing applications for a certificate of need to establish a rehabilitation hospital. Discerning no error, we affirm the chancery court’s order upholding the agency’s decision.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/22/14
Kenneth D. Hardy v. Tennessee State of Tennessee
M2013-02103-COA-R3-CV

Former police officer at Tennessee State University filed suit against the university, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the chief of the university police department under the Tennessee Human Rights Act,the Tennessee Public Protection Act,and Title VIIof the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and former officer appeals. We vacate the order granting summaryjudgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/22/14
State of Tennessee v. Terry Odell Lucas
M2013-02389-CCA-R3-CD

A Robertson County Grand Jury indicted appellee for possession of over 0.5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell.  The charges were dismissed after the trial court granted appellee’s motion to suppress evidence.  The State appeals the trial court’s granting of the motion to suppress and argues that appellee’s arrest and search were proper.  Following a thorough review of the record, we reverse the ruling of the trial court, reinstate the indictment, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/14
William L. Vaughn v. State of Tennessee
M2010-02191-CCA-R3-PC

Following a remand from this court, the petitioner, William L. Vaughn, acting pro se, was permitted a second evidentiary hearing on certain ineffective assistance of counsel claims which he had not presented in the first hearing on his petition for post-conviction relief.  As we will set out, he filed massive pleadings, complaining of a multitude of wrongs visited upon him, from the moment of his arrest through his direct appeal.  The evidentiary hearing was lengthy and free-swinging, with the post-conviction court’s concluding that the petitioner’s claims were “incredible” and, ultimately, without merit.  We agree.  Doggedness cannot substitute for substance.  The post-conviction court’s denial of relief is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/14
Bill D. Sizemore V. State of Tennessee
M2013-01378-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Billy D. Sizemore, was convicted of theft over $1,000 and sentenced to twelve years as a career offender.  Petitioner filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.  Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel: (1) failed to challenge the value of the stolen goods and (2) failed to seek a continuance after the State filed a late notice of intent to seek enhanced punishment.  After our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Perry County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/14
Dorah Elizabeth Johnson v. Jeffrey Walter Johnson
W2013-02248-COA-R3-CV

This appeal stems from a divorce proceeding and child support modification. On appeal, the appellant husband challenges several decisions made by the trial court after it had entered an order purporting to be the final decree of divorce. Because prior orders reserved issues not addressed in this divorce decree, we find this divorce decree was not a final order, and thus, subject to revision by later orders. Consequently, we find the trial court had jurisdiction and did not abuse its discretion in later revising awards contained in the non-final divorce decree and affirm the later changes in part. Additionally, in a later order purporting to modify the child support award, we find the trial court failed to properly make findings of facts and conclusions of law in compliance with Rule 52.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and remand in part on this issue.

Crockett County Court of Appeals 08/21/14
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