Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/26/2015
Format: 04/26/2015
Willard William Wright v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01498-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Willard William Wright, filed a petition for post-conviction relief attacking his conviction, pursuant to a negotiated guilty plea, for burglary of a motor vehicle in Davidson County Criminal Court case number 2010-C-2534. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition because it was filed after the applicable one year statute of limitations had run. Petitioner appeals, arguing that the statute of limitations should be tolled on due process grounds. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/15
State of Tennessee v. Sanchez Lewan Bradford
M2014-01311-CCA-R3-CD

The petitioner, Sanchez Lewan Bradford, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, asserting that his sentences were illegal in that he was not sentenced to consecutive terms.  After review, we affirm the summary dismissal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/15
In Re Tennessee Walking Horse Forfeiture Litigation
W2013-02804-COA-R3-CV

This case arises out of an appeal by the State of Tennessee, from an Order dismissing a Complaint for Judicial Forfeiture. The trial court granted Appellees’, the purported owners of two Tennessee Walking Horses, motion to dismiss for failure to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated Sections 39-14-210(f) and 39-11-707(c). We vacate and remand.

Fayette County Court of Appeals 04/08/15
In Re: Destin R.
M2013-02156-COA-R3-JV

In this grandparent visitation case the mother of the child appeals the grant of the petition to establish grandparent visitation privileges. We vacate the judgment and remand the case for entry of an order in compliance with Tenn. Rule Civ. P. 52.01.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 04/08/15
State of Tennessee v. Paul Williams aka Paul Williams EL
W2014-00231-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Paul Williams, a/k/a Paul Williams El, was convicted by a Carroll County jury of driving with a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license with a prior offense, a Class A misdemeanor, and failure to show registration, a Class C misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the driving conviction and thirty days for the registration conviction. In this pro se appeal, the defendant appears to challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the trial court‟s jurisdiction over his person. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
Charles Steven Shivers v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00455-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner was convicted by a jury of attempted first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, both Class A felonies, and sentenced to an aggregate sentence of forty-three years. The petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, which was amended by appointed counsel. After conducting a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Post-conviction counsel failed to file a timely notice of appeal. Because we do not conclude that the interest of justice requires us to hear the appeal, we dismiss it as untimely.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Dennis Karr
E2014-01245-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Dennis Karr, appeals as of right from the Sevier County Circuit’s revocation of his community corrections sentence1 and order of incarceration of his five-year-sentence relative to his guilty-pleaded sale of methamphetamine conviction. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his community corrections sentence based upon his failure to report, which, according to the Defendant, was due to necessity because he was a single father and homeless. He submits that, although he was an absconder from supervision as charged, he had, in his opinion, demonstrated an ability to comply with the conditions of his release by addressing his substance abuse problem, by not obtaining any new charges, and by returning to Tennessee to address this violation. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s revocation of the Defendant’s community corrections sentence.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
Michael Morgan v. Superior Catering Services, et al.
E2014-00005-COA-R3-CV

The underlying claim in this appeal concerns age discrimination. The action was filed initially against a single defendant. Three additional defendants were later added, but the plaintiff served process for them on the attorney for the initial defendant, instead of the individual defendants, a fact about which the added defendants learned only a few days prior to the trial. The trial ensued after the court refused to grant a continuance. A jury found all the defendants liable. The trial court awarded the plaintiff $70,000. The defendants collectively filed a motion for a new trial and raised the issues of insufficient service and the inadmissibility of direct evidence. In its first order, the trial court granted the defendants' motion for a new trial. The plaintiff thereafter filed a motion to alter or amend, after which the court reversed its prior ruling granting the new trial and reinstated the jury verdict. The defendants appeal. We reverse.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 04/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Latickia Tashay Burgins
E2014-02110-SC-R8-CO

We granted review in this case to determine whether Tennessee’s bail revocation statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-11-141(b), is constitutional, and if so, to establish the procedure to be followed in bail revocation proceedings. A Knox County grand jury returned a presentment against the defendant for simple possession of marijuana. The defendant posted bond and was released. Subsequently, a Knox County grand jury issued a nineteen-count presentment against the defendant, charging her with multiple crimes, including attempted first degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, attempted especially aggravated robbery, attempted carjacking, and aggravated assault. The trial court, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40 11 141(b), granted the State’s motion to revoke the defendant’s bail. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, holding that the statute violated article I, section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution. We hold that the Tennessee Constitution guarantees a defendant the right to pretrial release on bail, but this right is not absolute. A defendant may forfeit her right to bail by subsequent criminal conduct. Before pretrial bail can be revoked, the defendant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing. We remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.  

Knox County Supreme Court 04/07/15
Town of Collierville, et al. v. Town of Collierville Board of Zoning, et al.
W2013-02752-COA-R3-CV

The Town of Collierville, Tennessee, passed an ordinance prohibiting the construction of new billboards. The Town, through its Development Department, asserted that two billboards erected prior to the passage of the ordinance were illegal and ordered that they be removed. The owner of the billboards appealed the removal order to the Board of Zoning Appeals, which did not affirm the order. The Town and the Development Department petitioned for writ of certiorari, seeking judicial review of the decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Shelby County Chancery Court dismissed the petition for lack of standing. We conclude that the Town and the Development Department have standing. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/07/15
Stephen W. Lewis v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01376-CCA-WR-CO
Petitioner, Stephen Wayne Lewis, proceeds in this court pursuant to an order granting Petitioner’s writ of certiorari to the Sullivan County Criminal Court to review the trial court’s summary dismissal of Petitioner’s pro se “Motion to Dismiss Costs or Fines as Time-Barred.” The State argues that the trial court should be affirmed. Based upon our review of the record and the briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Sullivan County 04/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Natasha Moses Bates
E2014-00725-CCA-R3-CD
The defendant, Natasha Moses Bates, was convicted of two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and four counts of facilitation of the initiation of the process of manufacturing methamphetamine. The murder charges resulted from the deaths of her five- and three-year-old sons whose bodies were found in her front yard. She received a life sentence for each of the felony murder convictions, a twenty-year sentence for each of the aggravated child neglect convictions, and a three-year sentence for each of the drug-related convictions. The trial court ordered that the two life sentences be served consecutively and the two twenty-year sentences to be served consecutively as well, with these two sets of sentences to be served concurrently with each other and with the drug sentences. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; that the court erred by not severing the drug-related offenses from the felony murder and aggravated child neglect offenses; and that the court erred by ordering certain of the sentences to be served consecutively. Following our review, we conclude that the trial court erred in not severing the drug offenses, Counts 5-8, from Counts 1-4, alleging felony murder and aggravated child neglect. Accordingly, we reverse the convictions for Counts 5-8 and remand for a new trial. We affirm the convictions and sentencing for Counts 1-4.
 
Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
Alvin Michael Young v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01276-CCA-R3-PC
The pro se petitioner, Alvin Michael Young, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for aggravated kidnapping and domestic assault. On appeal, he argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr.
E2013-02437-CCA-R3-CD
The defendant, Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr., was convicted of felony murder in perpetration of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child abuse, a Class A felony. He received concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for the felony murder conviction and nineteen years for the aggravated child abuse conviction. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by (1) admitting photographs of the victim from the hospital and the autopsy because the photographs had little probative value and were not relevant to material issues at trial; (2) improperly restricting the cross-examination of a witness; and (3) failing to require the State to make an election of offenses. After reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/15
Jay Daniel, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Company
W2014-01965-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in an action on a homeowner’s insurance policy that contained a one-year contractual limitations period on actions arising under the policy. The home of the insured parties was damaged by a fire on December 15, 2011. The insured parties submitted a claim with the insurer pursuant to their homeowner’s insurance policy. The insurer submitted an estimate and tendered a settlement check to the insured parties on April 2, 2012. Over a year later, on October 3, 2013, the insured parties filed suit alleging they were owed an additional $75,000 for personal use and construction improvements on a new home. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer, finding that the insured parties’ claims were barred by the one-year contractual limitations period. After reviewing the record, we find no error in the trial court’s decision and affirm its grant of summary judgment.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 04/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Ed Loyde
W2014-01055-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Ed Loyde, was convicted of one count of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and one count of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. He received an effective sentence of thirty-five years. On appeal, he raises the sole issue of whether the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/15
Ines Mendez Monreal v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02036-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Ines Mendez Monreal, entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of not less than ten (10) pounds nor more than seventy (70) pounds of marijuana, a Class D felony. He was placed on judicial diversion for a period of four years. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-313. Almost nine years after entering the plea, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was summarily dismissed by the post-conviction court. On appeal, petitioner raises the following issues: (1) whether due process principles require that he be permitted to pursue his petition for post-conviction relief; (2) whether he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and (3) whether his plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Wendell Thorpe
M2012-02676-SC-R11-CD

We granted the application for permission to appeal of Jeremy Wendell Thorpe (“the Defendant”) in this case to determine whether the trial court properly included a jury instruction for criminal attempt as a lesser-included offense of sexual battery by an authority figure. If we answer in the affirmative, we also must determine whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction for criminal attempt to commit sexual battery by an authority figure. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we hold that the trial court properly included a jury instruction for criminal attempt as a lesser-included offense of sexual battery by an authority figure and that the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Supreme Court 04/06/15
Charles Walker v. Bank of America, N. A. et al
M2014-00672-COA-R3-CV


Plaintiff submitted the winning bid for the purchase of improved real property from Defendant Bank at auction. Plaintiff and Bank executed a purchase agreement and Plaintiff paid earnest money. Before the scheduled closing date, Bank informed Plaintiff that it did not own part of the real property advertised for auction. It offered to sell Plaintiff the unimproved parcel for the contract amount or to terminate the contract. After Plaintiff informed Bank’s closing agent that he intended to close on the entire parcel as advertised for auction, Bank returned Plaintiff’s earnest money and terminated the contract. Plaintiff filed an action alleging intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act against Bank and the auction company. The trial court granted Bank’s motion to dismiss and granted the auction company’s motion for a judgment on the pleadings. We affirm the decision of the trial court and remand.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Newton
M2014-00603-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Joseph Newton, was convicted of two counts of rape, Class B felonies, which the trial court merged. He received an effective eight-year sentence. On this direct appeal, he raises the sole issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. He argues that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to pursue a reasonable defense and failing to provide assistance; (2) failing to fulfil a promise made in the opening statement that the defendant would testify; and (3) for statements made during closing arguments. He also contends that the cumulative effect of trial counsel’s errors operated so as to deprive him of his right to receive a fair trial. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth McCormick
M2013-02189-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Kenneth McCormick, was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (first offense), a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence against him on the basis that law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to effect the seizure of his parked vehicle through the activation of emergency lights. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and the defendant was convicted after a jury trial. Because we conclude that the activation of the emergency lights was an exercise of the community caretaking function and did not constitute a seizure, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Charzelle Lamontez Swafford
M2014-00421-CCA-R3-CD

After a shooting at a public housing complex, a jury convicted the defendant, Charzelle Lamontez Swafford, of one count of first degree (premeditated) murder, four counts of attempted first degree murder, each a Class A felony, and one count of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. The defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence; the denial of a mistrial based on an emotional outburst from a witness; the trial court’s decision to admit a recorded prior inconsistent statement as substantive evidence; and the trial court’s decision to impose partial consecutive sentences at the upper end of the range. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. James Russell Jones, Jr.
M2013-02270-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, James Russell Jones, Jr., was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; attempted aggravated rape, a Class B felony; aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony; and simple assault, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to thirty years at 100% for each of the aggravated rape convictions, as a Range III, persistent offender to twenty-five years at 45% for the attempted aggravated rape conviction and twenty-five years at 100% for the aggravated sexual battery conviction, and to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor assault conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences for the four felony convictions served consecutively, for an effective sentence of 110 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to the defendant’s life sentence for a South Carolina conviction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his convictions and argues that the trial court erred by denying his request for a mistrial, by ordering consecutive sentences, and by allowing the jury to deliberate on Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment when venue in Davidson County had not been established. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
Michael Adler v. Double Eagle Properties Holdings, LLC, et al.
W2014-01080-COA-R3-CV

This case concerns the proper interpretation of a contract governing an interest in real property. The trial court concluded that the contract unambiguously granted a lease to one party, rather than an easement. Affirmed and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/02/15
Clifford Swearengen v. DMC-Memphis, Inc., et al.
W2014-00724-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from the trial court’s grant of a motion to dismiss Appellant’s medical malpractice action against defendants named in Appellant’s amended complaint filed more than one year after the cause of action accrued. The trial court found that Appellant’s claims against the additional parties were time barred because the amended complaint adding these parties was not filed within ninety days of the original answer asserting comparative fault against non-parties. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/02/15