Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 09/21/2014
Format: 09/21/2014
State of Tennessee v. Rodregus Carter
W2013-00850-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Rodregus Carter, was convicted by a Shelby County jury for aggravated burglary and theft of property valued over $1,000. The trial court sentenced Appellant as a Range III, Persistent Offender to thirteen years for the aggravated burglary conviction and twelve years for the theft of property conviction, to be served concurrently, for a total effective sentence of thirteen years. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant presents the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court improperly denied the motion to suppress his statement; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (3) whether the trial court improperly admitted the testimony of the victim with regard to her health condition; (4) whether the trial court improperly sentenced Appellant as a Range III, Persistent Offender; and (5) whether Appellant’s sentence was excessive. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that Appellant’s issues are without merit. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Willie Duncan
W2013-02554-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Willie Duncan, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, Appellant raises several issues: 1) the indictment for the charge of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony is defective for failing to name the underlying felony; 2) the jury instructions on the charge of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony were improper; 3) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the convictions; 4) a statement about Appellant’s juvenile record requires a new trial under plain error review; 5) the trial court abused its discretion by imposing excessive sentences; and 6) the trial court abused its discretion by imposing partially consecutive sentences. Upon review of the record, we find that the evidence is sufficient to support Appellant’s convictions, that the statement about Appellant’s juvenile record does not constitute plain error, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Appellant. However, we find that the indictment for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony is fatally flawed for failing to name the predicate felony. We also note a clerical error on the judgment form for the charge of aggravated robbery which requires remand for the entry of a corrected judgment. Therefore, we affirm the trial court’s judgments in part, reverse and dismiss in part, and affirm and remand in part.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Kirkwood
W2013-01007-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Kenneth Kirkwood, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, use of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, and aggravated burglary. Following a sentencing hearing, the court imposed a total effective sentence of forty-five years, to be served at 100%. Appellant filed a motion for new trial, which was denied. He argues on appeal that the jury verdict was against the weight of the evidence, that counsel was ineffective, and that the trial court erred by not granting him a continuance on his motion for new trial. After thoroughly reviewing the evidence, we affirm the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Tonya Michelle Stoltz
W2013-01595-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Tonya Michelle Stoltz, was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury for initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine. At the close of the State’s proof, the trial court granted Appellant’s motion for acquittal as to initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine but denied it as to the possession charge. The jury found Appellant guilty of possession of methamphetamine. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Appellant to eleven months and twenty-nine days at 75% service in incarceration. After Appellant’s motion for a new trial was denied, she appealed, arguing that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain the conviction for possession of methamphetamine. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence is sufficient and that the conviction for possession of methamphetamine should be affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Curtis Taylor
W2013-01820-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Curtis Taylor, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury in a multi-count indictment for first degree murder (Count 1), attempted first degree murder (Count 2), possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony (Count 3), and use of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony (Count 4). After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Count 1, and was convicted of the offenses as charged in Counts 2 through 4. According to the judgment forms, Appellant was sentenced to ten years in Count 1, fifteen years in Count 2, four years in Count 3, and ten years in Count 4, for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years. However, the transcript of the sentencing hearing reflects a sentence of two years in Count 3, but the same total effective sentence. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant presents the following issues for our review on appeal: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction for voluntary manslaughter; and (2) whether the trial court properly sentenced Appellant. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments and sentences. However, because the judgment forms do not accurately reflect the sentence as imposed by the trial court during the sentencing hearing, the matter is remanded for entry of corrected judgments to reflect that Appellant was sentenced to two years in Count 3, possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony, and that the sentences in Counts 1, 2, and 4 are to run consecutively to each other but concurrently to the sentence in Count 3, for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years. Accordingly, the matter is affirmed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Robert Lewis Webb v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01250-CCA-R3-PC

Pursuant to the terms of a negotiated plea agreement, Petitioner, Robert Lewis Webb, pled guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery, and was sentenced to an effective life sentence without the possibility of parole. Petitioner subsequently filed an untimely pro se petition for post-conviction relief. He asserted, among other things, that the guilty plea was involuntary. Appointed counsel filed an amended petition, alleging that the statute of limitations should be tolled due to a new constitutional ruling, Petitioner’s mental incompetence, and misconduct on the part of Petitioner’s trial attorney. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition without an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner appealed. The State concedes that Petitioner is entitled to a hearing on whether the statute of limitations should be tolled. We determine that the post-conviction court erred by summarily dismissing the petition without an evidentiary hearing to determine whether due process requires that the statute of limitations be tolled. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Michael Williams v. Michael Donahue, Warden
W2013-02146-CCA-R3-HC

Petitioner, Michael Williams, was convicted of rape in 2001 by a Shelby County jury. As a result, he was sentenced as a violent offender to serve thirty years in incarceration. Petitioner’s conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. See State v. Michael Williams, No. W2001-01925-CCA-R3-CD, 2002 WL 1349520 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, June 20, 2002). Appellant subsequently sought post-conviction relief. The petition for postconviction relief was denied. See Michael Williams v. State, No. W2005-01810-CCA-R3- PC, 2006 WL 3371404 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Nov. 20, 2006), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Mar. 19, 2007). Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in Hardeman County, alleging that the 2001 judgment is void because he was sentenced as a career offender. The habeas corpus court denied relief, dismissing the petition without a hearing after determining that Petitioner’s sentence had not expired. After a review of the record, we conclude that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition for relief where Petitioner failed to show that the judgment was void or that his sentence had expired. For those reasons, the judgment of the habeas corpus court is affirmed.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Stacy Lee Fleming v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02160-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Stacy Lee Fleming, appeals the Tipton County Circuit Court’s denial of postconviction relief from his conviction for delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Richard Griffis
W2013-02261-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Richard Griffis, was convicted by a Madison County jury of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103, -105 (2012). The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to four years’ incarceration, suspended to supervised probation. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Lakeith Humphrey v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01877-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Lakeith Humphrey, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his conviction for first degree premeditated murder and his sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to challenge the legal accuracy of the special jury instruction regarding premeditation given at trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Mosby
W2013-01874-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Daniel Mosby, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence. The Defendant previously entered a guilty plea to aggravated burglary and, pursuant to the plea agreement, was sentenced to 10 years to be served in the community corrections program with credit for time served. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve his original sentence in confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Joseph Pollard v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01398-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Joseph Pollard, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of postconviction relief. He was convicted of first degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, and aggravated assault and received an effective sentence of life with the possibility of parole. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to qualify an expert witness or anticipate the trial court’s rejection of the witness’s qualifications. The Petitioner further claims that appellate counsel was ineffective due to his failure to include the same issue on direct appeal. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Courtney Watkins v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02046-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Courtney Watkins, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Criminal Court for Shelby County. He was convicted of especially aggravated robbery and sentenced to twenty-three years’ imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred in denying his motion for continuance. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Travis Davison v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02048-CCA-R3-CO

The petitioner, Travis Davison, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, asserting that his sentence was illegal in that he received a shorter term than that mandated by statute. The State agrees that the petitioner has made a colorable claim that his sentence is illegal and that the matter should be remanded. After review, we remand the case for the appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/14
Reelfoot Utility District of Lake County, Tennessee v. Samburg Utility District of Obion County, Tennessee, et al.
W2013-01952-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves water service by one utility district to a neighboring utility district. The plaintiff utility district provided water service to the defendant neighboring utility district for many years pursuant to a series of contracts. The last contract included a date certain on which the contract expired. Before the expiration date, the defendant neighboring utility district agreed to begin purchasing its water from a different provider upon expiration of the water service contract with the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed this lawsuit seeking, inter alia, to enjoin the defendant provider and the neighboring utility district from entering into a contract for water services. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant neighboring utility district and denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the defendants were permitted to contract for water services. It then dismissed all remaining claims against the defendants. The plaintiff now appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court in all respects.

Obion County Court of Appeals 08/27/14
Malinda Annette Stills v. Chadburn Ober Harmon
E2014-01180-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a Restraining Order entered on May 20, 2014. The Notice of Appeal was not filed until June 20, 2014, thirty-one (31) days after the date of entry of the Restraining Order. Because the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Greene County Court of Appeals 08/27/14
In Re Austin C.
M2013-02147-COA-R3-PT

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights contending the evidence is insufficient for this court to appropriately review the testimony in the trial court because a portion of the evidentiary record is set forth in a statement of the evidence. We have determined the record is sufficient for proper appellate review because the entirety of Mother’s testimony is set forth in a verbatim transcript of the evidence, in which Mother admits knowing she had a duty to support her child, that she had the capacity to provide support during the relevant period, and she failed to do so. Thus, the record contains sufficient evidence to establish the ground of abandonment by failing to support the child. The evidence also supports the trial court’s finding that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. We, therefore, affirm the termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Hickman County Court of Appeals 08/27/14
Bonny Browne v. Alexander Lee Browne, Jr.
E2013-01706-COA-R3-CV

In this divorce action, Wife appeals the trial court’s valuation of Husband’s ownership interest in three businesses, determination of Husband’s income, division of marital assets, duration of rehabilitative alimony awarded to her, amount of child support Husband was ordered to pay, and the amount of attorney’s fees awarded to her. We determine that the trial court accepted the calculation of a $134,085.00 promissory note as a liability for one business co-owned by Husband but failed to require value of the same amount as a note receivable for the business collecting payment on the debt, owned 50% by Husband. We therefore increase the trial court’s valuation of the business collecting payment on the debt by one-half the amount of the applicable note receivable, or $67,042.50. We also determine that the trial court erred by attributing to Husband the full liability for the third business, a limited liability company in which Husband owns a one-half interest. We accordingly reduce the allocation for that liability by one-half, or $45,689.50, increasing the total modification of the value of Husband’s net assets awarded by the trial court by the amount of $112,732.00. We award to Wife 48% of this increase, or $54,111.36, commensurate with what we determine to be the trial court’s equitable distribution of marital property, and we remand for a determination regarding the proper method of distribution for this additional award to Wife. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 08/27/14
Jeremiah David Hawk v. Erika Leigh Hawk (Ricker)
E2013-02458-COA-R3-CV

This post-divorce appeal concerns a parenting plan that provided for equal time between the Parents, who subsequently filed competing petitions to modify, claiming that a material change in circumstances necessitated a change in the parenting plan. The trial court found that a change in circumstances had not yet occurred but awarded Mother approximately 12.5 days of additional parenting time after deciding that the Child should attend school in Mother’s county. Father appeals. We affirm the trial court’s decision.

Greene County Court of Appeals 08/26/14
Dennis Michael Harris et al. v. Mickey Deanne Haynes et al.
E2012-02213-SC-R11-CV

We granted permission to appeal to determine whether a governmental fund established in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated sections 29-20-401 to -408 (2012), which allows governmental entities to pool resources in order to address liabilities created under the Governmental Tort Liability Act, is subject to the uninsured motorist coverage requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 56-7-1201 to -1206 (2008). We hold that such funds are statutorily exempt from the insurance statutes and therefore the requirements of the uninsured motorist statute do not apply. Accordingly, we affirm the Court of Appeals’ judgment upholding the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment to Tennessee Risk Management Trust and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

Anderson County Supreme Court 08/26/14
Candace D. Watson v. The City of Jackson
W2013-01364-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiff in a premises liability action appeals from the trial court’s finding that she was more than fifty percent at fault for her injury. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Madison County Court of Appeals 08/26/14
Re/Max-Carriage v. Matthew McLaughlin, Et Al.
M2013-01982-COA-R3-CV

Lessor sued lessees for failure to payrent and received a default judgment in general sessions court. Lessee appealed to circuit court and filed a counterclaim for failure to maintain the premises and make repairs. The trial court found for lessor.  Lessees appealed. Due to the lack of a transcript or a proper statement of the evidence, we must affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 08/26/14
Daniel P. Rousos v. Kristi Boren (f/k/a Rousos)
M2013-01568-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises out of contentious post-divorce proceedings. The parties had equal parenting time with their three sons. Both parents filed a petition to modify the parenting plan and sought to be named primary residential parent. The parties also filed competing petitions for contempt. Following a five-day trial, the trial court named Father the primary residential parent of the oldest son, but it continued the parties’ equal parenting arrangement for the two younger sons. The trial court found Father guilty of two counts of criminal contempt. The court also made an award of attorney’s fees to Mother. Both parties appeal. We dismiss the appeal of the contempt order for lack of a final judgment. We affirm the custody order, vacate the award of attorney’s fees, and remand for further proceedings

Williamson County Court of Appeals 08/26/14
In Re Kyla P.
M2013-02205-COA-R3-PT

Father appeals the termination of parental rights to his child. The maternal grandparents obtained custody of the child shortly after her birth due to evidence of drugs in the child’s bloodstream. When the child was one year of age, Father was incarcerated and remained so two years later when the maternal grandparents filed a petition for termination of parental rights. The juvenile court found statutory grounds for termination of Father’s parental rights and concluded that it was in the child’s best interest to terminate Father’s parental rights. On appeal, Father argues that the evidence did not support the juvenile court’s conclusion that termination of Father’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. We disagree and affirm the juvenile court’s termination of Father’s parental rights.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 08/26/14
First Tennessee Bank National Association v. Shelby Village Mobile Home Park, LLC, Et Al
M2012-02267-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the trial court’s grant of summary judgment and imposition of discovery sanctions. A bank sued holders of an assumption agreement for default, and the holders of the assumption agreement filed a counter-claim against the bank requesting rescission of the assumption agreementduetothe bank’s alleged negligentmisrepresentation of the existence of flood insurance on the property as well as a misrepresentation regarding the value of the property. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the bank and imposed discovery sanctions against the holders of the assumption agreement. Finding no genuine issues of material fact, we affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. In addition, we have reviewed the record and cannot say the trial court abused its discretion

Court of Appeals 08/26/14