Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/20/2014
Format: 04/20/2014
John E. Lane v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01788-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, John E. Lane, stands convicted of one count of first degree murder. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to object to two pictures of the deceased victim’s body and wounds that were displayed on a projector during the trial. Following our review of the parties’ arguments, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/14
Floyd Lee Perry Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00901-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Floyd Lee Perry, Jr., appeals the dismissal of his motion to re-open his original petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner is currently serving a sentence of life with the possibility of parole for a murder he committed as a juvenile. On appeal, he claims that he is entitled to relief pursuant to the new precedent established in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), which held that it violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and inhuman punishment to sentence a juvenile to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole without individual consideration of mitigating circumstances. Following review of the applicable law and the record before us, we conclude that the motion was properly denied and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Evans
E2013-00180-CCA-R3-CD

Rodney Evans ("the Defendant") was convicted by ajury of driving under the influence. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days' probation after service of the forty-eight (48) hour minimum in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Gerald Anthony Humphrey
M2013-01512-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Gerald Anthony Humphrey, pled guilty in the Dickson County Circuit Court to DUI, first offense, and was sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days in the county jail, with seven days to serve prior to release on supervised probation. As a condition of his guilty plea, he attempted to reserve certified questions of law regarding the constitutionality of the “loud muffler” statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-9-202, under which the arresting officer initiated the traffic stop of his vehicle. Based on our review, we conclude that the defendant failed to meet his burden to properly certify his questions of law. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/14
In Re: Ty-Shawn H.
E2013-02259-COA-R3-PT

The Juvenile Court for Johnson City (“the Juvenile Court”) terminated the parental rights of Frank G. (“Father”) to the minor child Ty-Shawn H. (“the Child”) pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6). Father appeals the termination of his parental rights to this Court. We find and hold that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate Father’s parental rights pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6), and that clear and convincing evidence existed that the termination was in the Child’s best interest. We, therefore, affirm the Juvenile Court’s order terminating Father’s parental rights to the Child.

Washington County Court of Appeals 04/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Dale Samuel Waggoner
M2013-00731-CCA-R3-CD

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Dale Samuel Waggoner, was convicted of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and being a felon in possession of a handgun, a Class E felony. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of eighteen years, to be served at eighty-five percent, for the aggravated robbery conviction and three years, to be served at thirty-five percent, for the felon in possession of a handgun conviction. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Based upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/14
Jose Rodriguez a.k.a. Alex Lopez v. State of Tennessee
M2011-01485-SC-R11-PC

The petitioner, a Mexican citizen, entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of patronizing prostitution and was granted judicial diversion. After successfully completing his diversion, the petitioner’s criminal record was expunged. More than three years after the entry of his plea, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that trial counsel failed to advise him of the potential immigration consequences of his guilty plea as required by Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010). The trial court dismissed the petition as time-barred. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that a petitioner whose record has been expunged may not obtain post-conviction relief and affirmed the trial court’s summary dismissal of the petition. We granted the petitioner permission to appeal. Following our review, we conclude that a guilty plea expunged after successful completion of judicial diversion is not a conviction subject to collateral review under the Post-Conviction Procedure Act. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Supreme Court 04/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Edward Shannon Polen
M2012-01811-CCA-R3-CD

Edward Shannon Polen (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to two counts of theft over $60,000 and two counts of securities fraud. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of twelve years in prison. In this appeal, the Defendant challenges the length and manner of service of his sentence. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Vernica Shabree Calloway
M2011-00211-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Vernica Shabree Calloway, was convicted of aggravated child neglect, a Class A felony, and reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony. The trial court merged the assault conviction with the neglect conviction and sentenced the defendant as a violent offender to twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions; (2) the trial court erred by not requiring the State to make an election of offenses; (3) the trial court erred in not instructing the jury that it could convict her of either Count 1 or Count 2 of the indictment, but not both; (4) her convictions violate double jeopardy; (5) the trial court erred in admitting expert opinion testimony after the State violated the trial court’s order with respect to the information that could be provided to the expert; (6) the trial court erred in admitting as an exhibit a “learned treatise”; (7) the trial court erred in admitting unfairly prejudicial and irrelevant evidence; (8) the trial court erred by denying her motion to redact portions of her interviews with the police and the Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”); (9) the trial court erred in admitting testimony from the victim’s foster mother; and (10) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we remand for entry of a single judgment setting the defendant’s release eligibility at 30%. We conclude that all of the defendant’s other issues are without merit and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/14
Pepper & Brothers P.L.L.C. v. Brett Jones
M2013-01668-COA-R3-CV

A homeowner who was sued by a contractor hired an attorney to defend against the suit. The homeowner and the attorney entered into a contract where by the attorney would charge $225 per hour, calculate the bill in quarter hour increments and bill monthly. The homeowner made his monthly payments as the litigation progressed, but after he became dissatisfied with the service he was getting, he stopped paying . He subsequently discharged the attorney and hired other counsel. The attorney sent the homeowner a final bill for $8,529. The homeowner paid $4,000 and offered to settle the remainder for a lesser amount. The attorney refused and brought suit against the homeowner for the unpaid balance. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the attorney. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/04/14
In Re: Hannah W., et al.
E2013-02384-COA-R3-PT

The Juvenile Court terminated the parental rights of Ralph D.M. (“Father”) to the minor twin children Alexis W. and Hannah W. (“the Children”) on the grounds of abandonment by willful failure to visit pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1) and § 36-1-102(1)(A)(i), substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1- 113(g)(2), and persistent conditions pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3). Father appeals the termination of his parental rights asserting that he is neither the biological father nor the legal father of the Children and, therefore, had no parental rights to the Children to be terminated. We find and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the Juvenile Court’s finding by clear and convincing evidence that Father is the Children’s legal father, that grounds existed to terminate Father’s parental rights, and that the termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. We affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights to the Children.

Roane County Court of Appeals 04/03/14
James Buck v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01736-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, James Buck, pled guilty to failure to appear, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of his sentence. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner as a Career Offender to serve six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner timely filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief on the basis that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, maintaining that he is entitled to relief based upon his attorney’s deficient representation. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs, and relevant authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Melvin Powell
W2013-00844-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Melvin Powell, was found guilty of rape of a child, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-522 (2010) (amended 2011). The trial court sentenced him as a Range I offender to twenty-five years at 100% service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the State failed to make a proper election of the offense, and (3) the trial court erred in admitting paternity testing results based on the laboratory’s accreditation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Devin Torquin Watkins
E2013-00420-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Marquis Dashawn Hendricks, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine while employing a deadly weapon, possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, and possession of more than one-half ounce but not more than ten pounds of marijuana with intent to sell. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and simple possession of marijuana. Appellant received an effective sentence of life in prison for the convictions. On appeal, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, expert testimony about the trajectory of the bullet that was fired into the victim’s vehicle, and the trial court’s refusal to grant a mistrial on the basis of a Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), violation. After a review of the evidence and applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for first degree murder; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting expert testimony where the challenge to the testimony was related to the credibility of the expert’s opinion; and the State did not commit a Brady violation so the trial court properly denied a mistrial. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Marquis Dashawn Hendricks
E2013-00346-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Marquis Dashawn Hendricks, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine while employing a deadly weapon, possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, and possession of more than one-half ounce but not more than ten pounds of marijuana with intent to sell. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and simple possession of marijuana. Appellant received an effective sentence of life in prison for the convictions. On appeal, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, expert testimony  about the trajectory of the bullet that was fired into the victim’s vehicle, and the trial court’s refusal to grant a mistrial on the basis of a Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), violation. After a review of the evidence and applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for first degree murder; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting expert testimony where the challenge to the testimony was related to the credibility of the expert’s opinion; and the State did not commit a Brady violation so the trial court properly denied a mistrial. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Marquis Dashawn Hendricks - dissenting opinion
E2013-00346-CCA-R3-CD

Respectfully, the facts of this case in the light most favorable to the State do not establish the first degree murder element of premeditation. The evidence does establish a knowing killing, and so I would impose a conviction of second degree murder and would remand for sentencing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
Robert D. Mendenhall v. State of Tennessee
M2012-01890-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Robert D. Mendenhall, was indicted in case number 2006-A-231 for two counts of solicitation to commit first degree murder and in case number 2006-C-2134 for two counts of theft of property valued at over $60,000, and four counts of violations of the Tennessee Securities Laws. Subsequently, Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of solicitation to commit first degree murder in case number 2006-A-231. He also pled guilty to two counts of theft of property over $60,000, one count of securities fraud by a device, scheme, or artifice, and securities fraud by sale of an unregistered security in case number 2006-C-2134. As a result of the guilty pleas, Petitioner received an effective sentence of forty years. He was represented by separate counsel in each case. Petitioner filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, among other things. After a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner challenges the denial of post-conviction relief. Upon review, we determine that Petitioner has failed to show clear and convincing evidence that he received ineffective assistance of counsel or that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
Michael Morris v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01652-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Michael Morris, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in July of 2004 for possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell. Petitioner pled guilty to the charge in September of 2004 in exchange for a suspended four-year sentence and drug treatment. In September of 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as time-barred. Petitioner appeals. After a review of the record, we determine that the post-conviction court properly dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief as time-barred by the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel A. Rogers
E2013-01356-CCA-R3-CD

Daniel A. Rogers (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence, simple possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance, and driving on a suspended driver’s license. The Defendant also was convicted by the trial court of violating the implied consent law, resulting in the suspension of his driver’s license for one year. Following a sentencing hearing on his remaining convictions, the Defendant received a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days suspended to supervised probation after the service of sixty days. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial when the trial court declined to provide a jury instruction regarding the State’s duty to preserve evidence, and he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
Erik E. Guerrero v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01181-CCA-R3-PC

A Maury County jury convicted the Petitioner, Erik E. Guerrero, of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, and nine counts of attempted first degree murder, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This Court affirmed the judgments and sentence on appeal. State v. Erik E. Guerrero, No. M2010-00851-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 3107722, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Dec. 21, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 17, 2011). The Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court dismissed after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial because his trial counsel failed to: (1) request a jury instruction on the natural and probable consequences rule; (2) adequately advise him of all of the considerations of not testifying in his own defense; and (3) to challenge the admissibility of his statements. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the post-conviction court did not err when it dismissed the petition. The post-conviction court’s judgment is, therefore, affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
Associated Wholesale Grocers v. Lawrence F. Ling
M2013-01317-WC-R3-WC

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee alleged that he sustained a compensable aggravation of his pre-existing spinal condition. The trial court ruled that he failed to satisfy his burden of proof and dismissed the complaint. 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 in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 04/01/14
Jennifer Gray v. Zanini Tennessee, Inc.
M2013-00762-WC-R3-WC

The trial court dismissed the employee’s workers’ compensation action because the employee had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to filing suit as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-203(a)(1) (2008). The employee’s 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.

Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 04/01/14
Maury Bronstein, IRA v. Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc.
W2011-01391-COA-R3-CV

The trial court vacated an arbitration award in favor of Respondent Morgan Keegan on the ground of evident partiality. Finding Petitioner failed to introduce evidence to support allegations of evident partiality, we reverse and remand to the trial court for confirmation of the arbitration award.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/01/14
Alissa Owen (Formerly Haas) v. Darin Haas
M2013-00950-COA-R3-CV

Wife appeals the trial court’s denial of her Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60 petition to set aside the marital dissolution agreement and permanent parenting plan in their final decree of divorce; she contends she entered into the agreements under duress due to coercion by her husband. The trial court concluded the marital dissolution agreement and permanent parenting plan were not entered into under duress; the court also found that the permanent parenting plan was in the best interests of the children. Finding the trial court applied the correct legal standards and the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, we affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 04/01/14
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Matthew Cline
M2013-01846-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Joshua Matthew Cline, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape of a child. The trial court sentenced him to consecutive terms of twenty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/14