Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 07/04/2015
Format: 07/04/2015
In re Kayden H.
E2014-02360-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on Kayden H., the minor child (“the Child”) of Kristy L. (“Mother”) and Johnathan H. (“Father”). On January 28, 2014, the Child’s paternal grandparents, Linda H. and Donald H. (“Grandparents”), filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the parents and adopt the Child. Father joined as a co-petitioner in order to consent to the termination of his parental rights. Father 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 support and willfully failing to visit the Child in the four months preceding Mother’s September 2013 incarceration. The court also found by clear and convincing evidence that Mother had abandoned the Child by exhibiting wanton disregard for the Child’s welfare prior to Mother’s incarceration. 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. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Appeals 06/23/15
In re Jayden B.T.
E2014-00715-COA-R3-PT
This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on Jayden B.T., the minor child (“the Child”) of Jayson T. (“Father”) and Britney B. (“Mother”). On July 2, 2013, the Child's maternal aunt and her husband, with whom the Child had been residing, filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that grounds existed to terminate the parental rights of both parents upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that the parents had abandoned the Child by willfully failing to visit the Child, willfully failing to support the Child, and failing to provide a suitable home. The trial court also found clear and convincing evidence as to both parents of the statutory ground of persistence of the conditions that led to removal of the Child. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of Father's and Mother's parental rights was in the Child's best interest. Father has appealed. We conclude that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that Father abandoned the Child through failing to visit him and therefore reverse the trial court's finding as to that ground. In addition, we determine that the statutory grounds of persistence of the conditions leading to removal and abandonment through failure to provide a suitable home are not applicable to Father, and we therefore reverse the trial court's findings regarding those two grounds. We affirm the trial court's judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Father's parental rights upon the ground of abandonment through willful failure to support the Child.
 
Roane County Court of Appeals 06/23/15
In re Gavin G.
M2014-01657-COA-R3-PT

This appeal arises from the termination of Father’s parental rights. After Father had not seen the child for over a year-and-a-half, Mother and her husband petitioned to terminate Father’s parental rights. Following a trial, the chancery court found that Father had abandoned the child by willfully failing to visit him. The court also found that the termination of Father’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Father appeals the court’s determination that he abandoned the child and that the termination of his rights was in the child’s best interest. We affirm.  

Maury County Court of Appeals 06/23/15
Administrative Management Resources, LLC v. James G. Neeley
M2014-01073-COA-R3-CV

A staff leasing company filed this petition for judicial review of the administrative decision of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“the Department”). In its decision, the Department determined that the company had illegally transferred employees from one entity to another to acquire a lower unemployment insurance premium rate. We affirm the chancery court’s decision finding substantial and material evidence to support the Department’s determination.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/23/15
James T. Patterson v. Lincoln Medical Center
M2014-01145-COA-R3-CV

Suit was instituted under the Governmental Tort Liability Act and the Health Care Liability Act against a county-owned hospital four days after the patient gave the hospital notice of a potential health care liability claim. The trial court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a cause of action, holding that the patient did not demonstrate extraordinary cause to institute suit prior to the expiration of 60 days from giving notice of his claim under the Health Care Liability Act. Finding that the record does not establish extraordinary cause, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Appeals 06/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Poncho Juan Delgado
E2014-01101--CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Poncho Juan Delgado, appeals as of right his jury conviction for first degree premeditated murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the State failed to prove the element of premeditation. The State responds that ample evidence of premeditation was presented. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to establish premeditation, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/15
Joseph J. Holt v. Trustee of the Willoughby Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetary, et al.
E2014-01502-COA-R3-CV

Hal H. Lane appeals the May 20, 2014 Declaratory Judgment of the Chancery Court for Greene County (“the Trial Court”). We find and hold that Mr. Lane is not an aggreived party to this judgment and, therefore, lacks standing to appeal the judgment. We, therefore, affirm.

Greene County Court of Appeals 06/22/15
In re: Estate of Georgia Myers Smelcer
E2014-01499-COA-R3-CV

Hal H. Lane appeals the May 20, 2014 judgment of the Chancery Court for Greene County (“the Trial Court”) finding and holding, inter alia, that Joseph J. Holt was the person who took care of Georgia Myers Smelcer (“Deceased”) until her death and, therefore, inherited real property known as the Hartshaw Addition pursuant to the Last Will and Testament of Georgia Myers Smelcer. We find and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the Trial Court’s findings, and we affirm.

Greene County Court of Appeals 06/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Phillip K. Adams
M2014-00501-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Phillip K. Adams, was indicted by the Williamson County Grand Jury for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), driving while his blood alcohol concentration was .08 percent or more (DUI per se), and DUI, second offense.  Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of DUI second offense and sentenced to 11 months and 29 days, to be suspended after serving 60 days in confinement.  On appeal, Defendant contends that: 1) the trial court erred by not allowing Defendant to present the expert testimony of his co-worker Travis Adams at trial; 2) the trial court erred by not allowing Defendant to testify as an expert witness at trial; and 3) the trial court deprived Defendant of his right to due process by preventing him from presenting a defense.  Having reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/19/15
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Lee Boles
M2014-01030-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Kenneth Lee Boles, was convicted by a Bedford County jury of the introduction of a controlled substance into a penal institution and the possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution, both Class C felonies.  After merging the counts into a single conviction, the trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by not allowing him to present the testimony of his expert witness and by not instructing the jury on the defense of necessity.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/19/15
Martez D. Matthews v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01663-CCA-R3-ENC

The petitioner, Martez D. Matthews, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  His conviction was affirmed following his direct appeal.  State v. Deangelo M. Moody and Martez D. Matthews, No. M2011-01930-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 1932718, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 9, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013).  Subsequently, he filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis.  The basis for the petition was the claim by a co-defendant, who pled guilty to second degree murder for the killing which resulted in the petitioner’s conviction, that the petitioner was not involved in the crime.  Following an evidentiary hearing at which the co-defendant testified that the petitioner did not kill the victim, the court concluded the witness was not truthful in his testimony.  Accordingly, the court denied the petition.  Following our review, we affirm the order denying the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/19/15
Mark Thomas Whitten v. Dana Nichole Willis Whitten
M2014-00645-COA-R3-CV

Mother appeals from the trial court’s post-divorce determination that a modification of the parenting plan to designate Father as the primary residential parent of their children was in the children’s best interest. Mother contends the trial court erred in considering statements of the parties’ child made outside of court. Mother also contends the trial court erred in its application of the best interests factors set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-106. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/18/15
Donnie G. Goodwin, et al v. Jim Bale Construction, LLC
M2014-00919-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a construction dispute. Appellants/Homeowners brought suit against Appellee/Builder. Appellants claim that Appellee built their home on uncontrolled fill material, which caused excessive cracking in the garage and the driveway. Appellee contends that Appellants' home was built on virgin soil, rather than fill material as alleged by Appellants. Both sides proffered expert testimony to prove the cause of the cracks. The trial court found Appellee's expert credible and concluded that the home was built on virgin soil. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court's finding on this issue, we affirm this finding. However, we vacate the trial court's award of discretionary costs to Appellees in the amount of $9,210.60 and remand for reconsideration in light of our opinion.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 06/18/15
Dominick J. Leonardo v. Ashli Leonardo
M2014-00372-COA-R3-CV


This case involves the trial court‘s post-divorce modification of a parenting plan and modification of the parents‘ respective child support obligations. The trial court granted Appellee/Father‘s petition to modify the minor child‘s residential parenting schedule to give Appellant/Mother and Appellee/Father equal residential parenting time with the child under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-101(a)(2)(C). After modifying the residential parenting schedule, the trial court also modified the parties‘ respective child support obligations. Mother appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/18/15
Dominick J. Leonardo v. Ashli Leonardo - Concur/Dissent
M2014-00372-COA-R3-CV

I concur in the majority Opinion's ruling with regard to the modification of the parties' parenting plan to allow Father more time with the child. I must, however, dissent from the majority's holding that the trial court did not err in modifying Mother's child support obligation, where no pleadings were filed notifying Mother that the issue would be tried, no opportunity to conduct discovery on the issue, and no opportunity to present evidence to the trial court concerning modification of child support. For this reason, I must respectfully file this partial dissent from the majority Opinion.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/18/15
Karlos D. McMahon v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02316-CCA-R3-PC

Karlos D. McMahon (“the Petitioner”) pleaded guilty to several counts of sale of cocaine in case numbers 17268 and 17478.  Subsequent to entering his guilty pleas, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition.  Upon a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Shannon Dixon
M2014-00718-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Shannon Dixon, was convicted by a Marion County Circuit Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to five years, suspended to probation after service of twelve months of incarceration.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in:  (1) denying his request for a special jury instruction that a pellet gun was not a deadly weapon per se for purposes of the aggravated assault statute, and (2) not applying as a mitigating factor at sentencing that he acted under strong provocation.  After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Bradley Cox
W2014-00800-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Bradley Cox, was convicted by a Henderson County jury of one count of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of rape of a child. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of 37 years' confinement, to be served at 100% as a violent offender. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) he is entitled to a new trial based upon the State's failure to timely disclose certain exculpatory evidence, and (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Stanley Blue
W2014-01728-CCA-R3-CD

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Stanley Blue, of facilitation of first degree premeditated murder, attempted second degree murder, and reckless endangerment. Following a grant of post conviction relief and a remand for resentencing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective term of forty-six years as a Range III, persistent offender. The Defendant challenged the length of his sentence on appeal, and this Court reversed the Defendant's sentences for attempted second degree murder and reckless endangerment. We remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing regarding these two convictions and affirmed all other judgments of the trial court. State v. Stanley Blue, No. W2013-00437-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 1464177, at *9 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, April 14, 2014). On remand, the trial court conducted a sentencing hearing and imposed a total effective sentence of forty-four years. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/15
Daniel G. Lewis v. Comcast
E2014-00962-SC-R3-WC

Daniel G. Lewis, the employee, was a cable technician who made a claim for workers' compensation benefits from Comcast, the employer, after he fell from a pole during a climbing recertification procedure. The employer provided medical care and paid temporary disability benefits but denied that the employee had sustained a permanent impairment or disability. Ultimately, the trial court awarded 70% permanent partial disability. The employer appeals, contending that the trial court erred by excluding evidence about the employee's history of drug abuse and by awarding permanent disability benefits. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, 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. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Anderson County Workers Compensation Panel 06/17/15
In re Makenzie L.
M2014-01081-COA-R3-PT

In this termination of parental rights case, paternal great-aunt and great-uncle, who were named ―primary residential parents' of a minor child, filed a petition to terminate the parents' rights to their daughter on the grounds of persistence of conditions that led to removal, severe abuse, abandonment by failure to visit, and abandonment by failure to support. The trial court held that grounds did not exist for termination and returned the child to the custody of the parents. We have reviewed the record and affirm the trial court‘s findings with respect to persistent conditions and abandonment by failure to visit. However, we have determined that the trial court erred in excluding evidence of alleged sibling abuse in rendering its decision that the grounds of severe abuse were not proven. In addition, we hold that there is clear and convincing evidence that the parents abandoned the child by failing to support her in the four months preceding the filing of the petition. Finally, we affirm the trial court‘s holding with respect to attorney‘s fees. Therefore, having found that the trial court erred in failing to consider evidence of alleged sibling abuse and that a ground exists for termination, we remand the case for the trial court to consider whether the ground of severe abuse, as defined by Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(4) is proven by clear and convincing evidence and whether termination of parental rights is in the child‘s best interest.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/17/15
In re Makenzie L.
M2014-02285-COA-R3-PT

In this termination of parental rights case, paternal great-aunt and great-uncle, who were named ―primary residential parents' of a minor child, filed a petition to terminate the parents' rights to their daughter on the grounds of persistence of conditions that led to removal, severe abuse, abandonment by failure to visit, and abandonment by failure to support. The trial court held that grounds did not exist for termination and returned the child to the custody of the parents. We have reviewed the record and affirm the trial court‘s findings with respect to persistent conditions and abandonment by failure to visit. However, we have determined that the trial court erred in excluding evidence of alleged sibling abuse in rendering its decision that the grounds of severe abuse were not proven. In addition, we hold that there is clear and convincing evidence that the parents abandoned the child by failing to support her in the four months preceding the filing of the petition. Finally, we affirm the trial court‘s holding with respect to attorney‘s fees. Therefore, having found that the trial court erred in failing to consider evidence of alleged sibling abuse and that a ground exists for termination, we remand the case for the trial court to consider whether the ground of severe abuse, as defined by Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(4) is proven by clear and convincing evidence and whether termination of parental rights is in the child‘s best interest.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/17/15
Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC v. Alice McCormick-Jackson
W2014-02485-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from the trial court's order granting Appellee's motion for judgment on the pleadings in a breach of contract case. After the trial court granted Appellee's motion, Appellant filed a notice of appeal pro se. Due to deficiencies in Appellant's brief, we are unable to address the issues she raises on appeal. We therefore affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Shelton Pope
W2014-01057-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Shelton Pope, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of theft of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erroneously denied his motion for a mistrial in response to the jury’s being exposed to improper influence and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Bland
W2014-00991-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Michael Bland, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that the trial court erred by not giving his requested accomplice instruction to the jury, by instructing the jury on the law of criminal responsibility, and by overruling his objection to the opinion testimony of a police officer regarding his honesty. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/15