Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 01/30/2015
Format: 01/30/2015
State of Tennessee v. Ryan T. Brandon
E2014-00591-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Ryan T. Brandon, was convicted of public intoxication and evading arrest. He received sentences of eleven months, twenty-nine days of supervised probation for evading arrest and thirty days of supervised probation for public intoxication. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently. On appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal on the evading arrest charge, limitation of his crossexamination of the arresting officer, and failure to instruct the jury as to the defense of necessity. We hold that Defendant waived any claim of error with regard to the motion for judgment of acquittal by continuing to participate in the trial after the close of the State’s proof by calling his own witness. However, we review the issue for sufficiency of the evidence. Based upon our review of the record, we hold that the evidence is insufficient to support the charge of evading arrest. The trial court’s judgment as to that conviction is hereby reversed and dismissed. We hold that the evidence is sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for public intoxication. We also hold that the trial court’s exclusion of impeachment evidence, though in error, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, we hold that Defendant’s claim as to the jury instructions has been waived for failure to include the jury instructions in the record. The trial court’s judgment as to the public intoxication conviction is hereby affirmed.

Roane County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Lorenzo Malone
M2014-01316-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Lorenzo Malone, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, which was summarily denied by the trial court.  Because Appellant has failed to state a colorable claim that his life sentence for first degree felony murder is illegal, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/15/15
Tina M. Dixon v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02173-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Tina M. Dixon, filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that her trial counsel were ineffective for failing to request a ruling on a motion for additional findings of fact related to a motion to suppress; failing to raise the issue of the trial judge and the prosecutor’s potential conflicts of interest prior to trial; and failing to advise her of a proposed plea agreement.  The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/15/15
Eddie Roy Davis v. Youth Emergency Shelter et al.
E2014-00133-SC-R3-WC

The trial court awarded permanent total disability benefits to the employee for bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. It apportioned the award between the employer and the Second Injury Fund. Both have appealed. 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 trial court in its award for permanent and total disability benefits for a subsequent scheduled member injury.

Hamblen County Workers Compensation Panel 01/15/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Leniel Middlebrooks
W2014-00469-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jeremy Leniel Middlebrooks, was indicted for two counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102, -13-103, -17-1307. Prior to trial, the State dismissed one of the counts of aggravated assault. Following a bifurcated jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offenses of facilitation of aggravated assault and facilitation of reckless endangerment. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-11-403. The Defendant then pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm while the jury was deliberating during the second phase of the trial. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of five years. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions for facilitation of aggravated assault and facilitation of reckless endangerment; and (2) that the trial court erred by ruling that the Defendant’s prior conviction for attempted aggravated burglary could be used to impeach the Defendant if he chose to testify at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/15/15
Frazier Perry v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00690-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Frazier Perry, appeals as of right from the Dyer County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered due to the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/15/15
State of Tennessee v. James Richardson Reece
M2014-01000-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, James Richardson Reece, appeals the judgment of acquittal of aggravated assault and the trial judge’s findings of contempt of court.  The appeal of the judgment of acquittal is hereby dismissed and the findings of contempt are affirmed.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/15
State of Tennessee v. Devonta Amar Cunningham
M2012-02203-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Devonta Amar Cunningham, of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony.  After a sentencing hearing, the appellant received an effective life sentence. Subsequently, he filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis.  On the same day, he filed a motion for new trial and for judgment of acquittal.  The petition and the motion were denied by the trial court.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his murder conviction and that the trial court erred by refusing to compel a witness to testify after the witness asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; by refusing to admit a co-defendant’s prior statement as substantive evidence; by limiting his cross-examination of a State’s witness; by allowing evidence to be admitted in violation of the rules of discovery; and by denying his petition for a writ of error coram nobis.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/15
Jefferson Lawton Freeman v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00605-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Jefferson Lawton Freeman, appeals as of right from the Henry County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by summarily dismissing his petition for having been untimely filed. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Henry County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/15
James Clark v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00514-CCA-R3-ECN

The Petitioner, James Clark, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his petition for procedural defects and for failing to state a cognizable claim. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/15
State of Tennessee v. Jarrett Dunn
E2014-01946-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se appellant, Jarrett Dunn, appeals as of right from the McMinn County Criminal Court’s order denying his motion to correct illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s order pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/15
J. Jason Tolleson v. Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, et al
M2014-00439-COA-R3-CV

Employee of a contractor of alarm systems applied to be registered with the Alarm Systems Contractors Board. When his application was denied, the employee filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of the Board’s decision; on the Board’s motion, the trial court dismissed the petition pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6). Finding that the petition alleges sufficient facts to establish a right to certiorari review, we reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Skylar Matthew Gant
M2014-00500-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Skylar Matthew Gant, entered guilty pleas to two counts of the sale of .5 grams or more of crack cocaine, two counts of the delivery of .5 grams or more of crack cocaine, and one count of failure to appear, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of the sentences.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the alternative counts of the sale and delivery of crack cocaine and imposed two concurrent twelve-year sentences for the drug offenses.  For the felony failure to appear, the court imposed a four-year sentence to be served consecutively to the twelve-year sentences, for a total effective sentence of sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying him an alternative sentence.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/15
Anita Adkins et al. v. Associates of the Memorial/Mission Outpatient Surgery Center, LLC.
E2014-00790-COA-R3-CV

This is a health care liability action in which Defendant sought summary judgment, claiming that Plaintiffs’ expert was not qualified to render an expert opinion because she was not practicing in her field during the year preceding the date of the injury. The trial court agreed and dismissed the action. Plaintiffs appeal. We reverse the decision of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 01/13/15
Elizabeth F. Holland v. K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., et al.
E2013-02798-COA-R3-CV

This is a premises liability action in which Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant for injuries she sustained as a result of a trip and fall accident in a parking lot. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that he owed no duty to Plaintiff and that Plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for her injuries. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 01/13/15
David Dewayne Smith v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02833-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, David Dewayne Smith, was indicted along with three other individuals for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. Before trial, the State entered a nolle prosqeui as to the charges against one co-defendant and entered into a plea agreement with another. The trial proceeded against the Petitioner and the remaining codefendant. On the third day of trial, the State announced that it had entered into a plea agreement with the remaining co-defendant, and the co-defendant would testify against the Petitioner. Trial counsel made oral motions for a mistrial and a continuance, both of which were denied by the trial court. The Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and this Court affirmed his conviction on appeal. The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the petition was denied. On appeal, the Petitioner challenges the denial of post-conviction relief on 12 grounds. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Terrence Lamont McDonald
E2013-02524-CCA-R3-CD

Following a jury trial, Terrence Lamont McDonald (“the Defendant”) was convicted of four counts of aggravated rape and one count of reckless endangerment, as a lesser-included offense of aggravated assault. At a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the Defendant’s convictions for aggravated rape in counts two and four into his aggravated rape convictions in counts one and three, respectively. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of 25 years in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant raises claims that: 1) the State violated Batson by striking African-American potential jurors from the venire; 2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct in closing argument; 3) the trial court erroneously admitted evidence under Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b); 4) his convictions for two counts of aggravated rape violate principles of double jeopardy; 5) count five of the indictment fails to state an offense; 6) the Defendant’s conviction for reckless endangerment in count five violated his right to an unanimous verdict; and 7) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing  Following a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we discern no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Dylan M. Yacks
E2013-02187-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Dylan M. Yacks, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI), see T.C.A. § 55-10-401 (1) (2012), in exchange for a 1 sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, which was suspended after service of two days confinement. As a condition of his guilty plea, the Defendant-Appellant properly reserved a certified question of law challenging the constitutionality of the stop and subsequent arrest. Upon our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and vacate the Defendant-Appellant’s convictions.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Frank Royston, Sr.
E2014-00018-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Johnny Frank Royston, Sr., was tried by a jury and convicted of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony; and aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony. The defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of fifty years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant challenges: (1) the sufficiency of the evidence, including the trial court’s instructions pursuant to State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559, 577 (Tenn. 2012); (2) an alleged amendment to or variance from the indictment; (3) the denial of his motion for a change of venue; (4) the “contamination” of certain evidence; (5) the trial court’s alleged limits on jury deliberations; (6) alleged prosecutorial misconduct in closing arguments; and (7) cumulative error. Having conducted a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the defendant is not entitled to relief, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Frank Royston, Sr. - concurring opinion
E2014-00018-CCA-R3-CD

CAMILLE R. MCMULLEN, J., concurring.
I respectfully concur in the majority opinion. I write separately because I would have concluded that there was no White error in instructing the jury. In my view, the trial court properly instructed the jury. I part with the reasoning of the majority because the issue raised by the Defendant- ppellant in his brief was as follows:

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Derek Horne
W2014-00333-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Derek Horne, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of the latter. We affirm the convictions but remand for correction of clerical errors in one of the judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Justin Ellis
E2011-02017-SC-R11-CD

We granted the State of Tennessee permission to appeal in this criminal proceeding to address two issues: (1) the analytical framework that a successor judge should utilize in deciding whether he can act as the thirteenth juror, and (2) the standard of appellate review of a successor judge’s determination that he can or cannot act as the thirteenth juror.  We hold that there is a rebuttable presumption that a successor judge can act as the thirteenth juror.  We also hold that an appellate court should review de novo a successor judge’s decision about acting as the thirteenth juror.  Applying these principles to the instant case, we hold that the successor judge committed no reversible error in determining that he could act as the thirteenth juror.  Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and reinstate the trial court’s judgments of conviction.
 

Knox County Supreme Court 01/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Romarcus Echols
W2013-01758-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the Defendant, Romarcus Echols, of especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of 60 years. The sentences for especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony were ordered to be served consecutively with each other, but concurrently with his sentence for aggravated burglary. The Defendant raises three issues on direct appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred when it instructed the jury that especially aggravated kidnapping as charged in this case could be the predicate felony for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; (2) whether there was sufficient evidence to support the Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated kidnapping; and (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion by ordering consecutive sentences. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments for especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary, but reverse the judgment for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/12/15
Abraham Mitchell v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00047-CCA-R3-PC

Abraham Mitchell (“the Petitioner”) pleaded guilty to one count of vandalism over $10,000 and one count of attempted theft of property valued over $1,000 and was sentenced to four years as a Range I offender. In this appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, the Petitioner argues that his plea was not entered voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently; that he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and that he was denied due process of law. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/12/15
Alexa Williams a.k.a. Elizabeth Williams EL v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00312-CCA-R3-CD

Alexa Williams a.k.a. Elizabeth Williams El (“the Appellant”) was convicted by a jury of ten traffic offenses. In this direct appeal, the Appellant contends: (1) the judgments of conviction are not valid because bail was excessive; (2) the trial court improperly refused to allow the Appellant to have “counsel of her choice”; and (3) the trial court lacked jurisdiction. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we find the issues without merit and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/12/15