Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/21/2015
Format: 04/21/2015
Jamie Lou Haneline v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01713-CCA-R3-ECN

The petitioner, Jamie Lou Haneline, appeals the dismissal of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis. He was convicted of rape of a child in 2001 and received a sentence of thirty-eight years. In the petition for relief, which was filed in 2013, the petitioner alleged a newly discovered witness with information not previously known at trial. After a hearing, the court dismissed the petition as untimely and, further, found that the witness’s testimony would not have changed the verdict in the petitioner’s case. The petitioner contends that the error coram nobis court erroneously reached those conclusions. Following review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the court.

Decatur County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Carl C. Dotson
M2014-00774-CCA-R3-CD

A Williamson County Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Carl C. Dotson, charging him with theft of property valued over $1,000 but less than $10,000 and driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), third offense. A jury trial was held, and Defendant was convicted of the offenses. The trial court imposed a sentence of two years as a Range One offender for theft to be served in confinement and eleven months, twenty-nine days for DUI to be served concurrently. The judgment for DUI indicates that Defendant is to serve 160 days of his sentence for DUI in confinement and then eleven months and twenty-nine days on supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Sarah Kee, et al. v. City of Jackson, Tennessee
W2013-02754-COA-R3-CV

Action under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act against the City of Jackson to recover for injuries sustained in a fall suffered by one plaintiff while she and her husband were walking across a bridge from a parking lot to the fairgrounds operated by the City. Following a bench trial, the court held that the bridge was in a defective and dangerous condition and that the City was not immune from suit; the court determined that the City was 60% negligent and the plaintiff 40% negligent. The court assessed damages at $62,817.35 for plaintiff wife and $8,400.00 for plaintiff husband; applying the comparative fault percentage, the court awarded plaintiff wife $37,690.41 and plaintiff husband $5,040.00. We modify the award of damages to plaintiffs; in all other respects we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
James R. Cotham v. Judy P. Cotham
W2015-00521-COA-T10B-CV

This is a Rule 10B appeal of the denial of a petition for recusal. Appellant supported the Chancellor’s opponent in the August 2014 election and contends that her support of the opponent provides cause for the Chancellor’s recusal. The trial court denied Appellant’s motion to recuse, and Appellant filed this accelerated interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. We affirm.

Decatur County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
Janice Bunch v. Tiffany Jones
W2014-01161-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from an award of attorney’s fees following settlement of the underlying lawsuit. Appellees, law firm and attorney, represented Appellant in a lawsuit arising from an automobile accident. After protracted mediation, Appellee orally agreed to lower its contingency fee from 33 1/3% to 10% in consideration of Appellant’s agreement to settle her case against the tort defendants for $52,000. Appellant agreed to accept this offer and signed the settlement agreement at the conclusion of the mediation. Thereafter, Appellant allegedly refused to sign the releases drafted by the tort defendants. The trial court, upon the tort defendants’ motion, enforced the settlement agreement reached by the parties at mediation. Appellees assert that Appellant’s refusal to sign the releases drafted by the tort defendants constitutes a breach of the modified fee agreement and now seek to enforce an attorney’s fee lien for the full one-third of the recovery. The trial court granted Appellees’ motion to enforce its lien for the full amount, and Appellant appeals. We conclude that the terms of the modified fee agreement between Appellees and Appellant only required Appellant to settle her case with the tort defendants for $52,000, which she did. Accordingly, the trial court erred in not enforcing the modified fee agreement. Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
Mark Allen Hill v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01011-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Mark Allen Hill, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his “open” guilty plea to second degree murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, leading to an involuntary plea, because trial counsel failed to inform him of the factors involved in enhancing his sentencing term. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. 

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/30/15
Emma Harris et al v. Amanda B. Aldmon et al.
E2014-00203-COA-R3-CV

In this appeal, the Court is asked to determine whether certain provisions of restrictive covenants recorded in 1917 are still in effect and enforceable against certain parcels of subdivision property that lay contiguous to North Broadway in Knoxville. Emma Harris filed a declaratory judgment action seeking the judgment of the trial court that a “used for residential purposes only” restriction is unenforceable as to her property due to changed conditions in the area and the abandonment of the restriction by waiver and/or acquiesence in other violations of the subject restriction. A defendant, Robert A. Whaley, a neighbor to the Harris property, filed a cross-claim seeking the same relief. The trial court, while finding that “it may well be that especially in [the] Harris[ ] case a just and equitable remedy would be the removal of the burden from her,” nevertheless went on to enforce the covenant. We affirm the trial court's judgment as to the property of cross-claimant Whaley, which property is improved with a relatively-large house inhabited by Whaley as his residence since 2001. The Harris property, on the other hand, consists of two contiguous unimproved lots that have never been built on since the subdivision was created in 1917. Considering the totality of the circumstances and equities, it is the judgment of the Court that, with respect to the Harris lots, the “residential purposes only” restriction is cancelled and unenforceable, but this decree is made subject to a restriction that no curb cut will be constructed to allow vehicular access from the Harris property to Gibbs Drive, a thoroughfare leading into the subdivision from North Broadway. Our decree is also subject to the Truan/plaintiffs agreement as reflected in Exhibit 33.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
Thomas D. McClure, Sr. v. Linda Bentley McClure
E2014-00412-COA-R3-CV

The issue presented in this divorce appeal is whether the trial court erred in refusing to appoint a guardian ad litem for Thomas D. McClure, Sr. (Husband), and proceeding to trial in Husband's absence after he was duly notified of the trial date. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
In Re Conservatorship of Dessa L. McQuinn
E2013-02790-COA-R3-CV

Jacqueline D. Cameron filed a petition seeking to be named as conservator of her mother, Dessa L. McQuinn. After a hearing, the trial court declined to appoint Cameron conservator, finding that such an appointment was against McQuinn's wishes and best interest. Exercising the discretion provided it by Tenn. Code Ann. § 34-1-114 (Supp. 2013), the trial court ordered Cameron to pay the fees and expenses of McQuinn's appointed guardian ad litem. The court also ordered Cameron to return all of McQuinn's personal property to her house, which property Cameron had earlier removed from McQuinn's house without authorization. Cameron appeals. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
Barbara Jean Blake v. Russell Alan Blake
M2014-01016-COA-R3-CV

This case requires us to consider whether the trial court had jurisdiction to hear a petition for contempt. Mother and the parties’ child reside in Nevada, and Nevada had exercised jurisdiction over the child pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”). Mother filed a petition seeking to hold Father in contempt for his alleged failure to abide by portions of an amended parenting plan and for his failure to pay certain marital debt. Mother also requested to have child support recalculated. Father filed a counter-petition for contempt alleging interference with his visitation. Mother asserted the Nevada court had jurisdiction over Father’s counter-petition. The trial court, sua sponte, dismissed both petitions for contempt, holding that Nevada had jurisdiction. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Father’s counter-petition, but we reverse the court’s dismissal of Mother’s petition, which addresses marital debt, child support, and other issues unrelated to the custody of the children. 

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
Kathyrne Kennedy v. Karl E. Childs
M2014-00093-COA-R3-JV

This appeal involves Father’s petition for child support modification and his petition for rehearing regarding a magistrate’s finding of criminal contempt. At issue are the juvenile court’s findings that Father failed to demonstrate a significant variance necessary for the modification of child support; the confirmation of the magistrate’s order finding Father guilty of criminal contempt for willful failure to pay child support; and the court’s decision to only excuse three months of Father’s child support arrearages. We conclude that the trial court erred in calculating Father’s and Mother’s monthly gross incomes on the child support worksheet but that the record is otherwise insufficient to address the issues raised by Father. Therefore, we affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
Theresa Malone v. Tennessee Department of Safety, et al
M2014-00190-COA-R3-CV

This  appeal  arises out  of an  administrative proceeding initiated  by a  former  driver’s license examiner.  After the examiner was injured on the job, she was absent  from work for nearly thirteen months.  For some of those months, she was on various  forms of approved leave.  Eventually, the examiner was terminated for job abandonment. She exhausted the Department of Safety’s grievance process, and both the Commissioner of the Department and the Tennessee Civil Service Commission affirmed her termination. The examiner then appealed to the chancery court, which also affirmed the Commission’s decision.  The examiner appealed.  Because we find the Commission’s decision was not supported  by substantial  and  material  evidence  and  was  arbitrary or  capricious,  we reverse and remand. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
In Re: Jaceton B.
M2014-01580-COA-R3-PT

Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate father’s parental rights to his minor child. The trial court found the Department proved the ground for termination pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6) because the father was sentenced to a prison term of ten or more years when the child was under eight years of age. The trial court also found that terminating the father’s parental rights was in the best interests of the child. Father appeals. The evidence clearly and convincingly supports the determination that father was sentenced to incarceration for ten or more years when the child was less than eight years old. The evidence also clearly and convincingly supports the determination that terminating father’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest because father did not have any meaningful relationship with the child and that the child had a strong relationship with his foster family, who had cared for his medical needs and wanted to adopt him. Therefore, we affirm the termination of father’s parental rights.

Dickson County Court of Appeals 03/30/15
Charles Haynes v. Formac Stables, Inc.
W2013-00535-SC-R11-CV

The plaintiff asserted claims for retaliatory discharge pursuant to both the common law and the Tennessee Public Protection Act, alleging that the owner of the employer had engaged in illegal conduct and had terminated the plaintiff’s employment when he acted as a whistleblower by complaining of the conduct to the owner. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims because, according to his own allegations, he had not reported the illegal activity to anyone other than the person responsible for the activity. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We hold that an employee must report an employer’s wrongdoing to someone other than the wrongdoer to qualify as a whistleblower, which may require reporting to an outside entity when the wrongdoer is the manager, owner, or highest ranking officer within the company. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Obion County Supreme Court 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Allen Cornelius Bond
W2014-00069-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Allen Cornelius Bond, was convicted by a Madison County Criminal Court jury of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and attempted sexual battery, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to an effective term of sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction to be served consecutively to a prior sentence. On appeal, he argues that: (1) his right to an impartial jury was violated because one of the jurors knew him; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the nurse examiner to testify as an expert witness; and (4) the trial court erred in not exercising its authority as the thirteenth juror and setting aside his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Eric Williams
W2013-01593-CCA-R3-CD

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Eric Williams, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by refusing to allow State witnesses to testify about his statements after the killing, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to use a shotgun for demonstrative purposes when the gun was not involved in the crime, and that the trial court erred by not using the “reasonable effort method” for the jury’s consideration of the charge. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court erred by prohibiting the appellant from crossexamining State witnesses about his stating after the shooting that he did not intend to shoot the victim, by allowing the State’s expert to testify about the trigger pull of double-barrel shotguns, and by allowing the jury to handle a shotgun that was not the murder weapon. Moreover, we conclude that the cumulative effect of the errors warrants reversal of the appellant’s conviction. Therefore, the conviction is reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
In Re Kailee M.G.
E2014-01602-COA-R3-PT
The State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition in November of 2013 (“the Petition”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Kristen M.C. (“Mother”) to the minor child Kailee M.G. (“the Child”). After a trial the Juvenile Court for Sullivan County (“the Juvenile Court”) terminated Mother’s parental rights to the Child after finding that clear and convincing evidence had been proven of grounds to terminate for persistent conditions pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3) and that clear and convincing evidence had been proven that it was in the Child’s best interest for Mother’s parental rights to be terminated. Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to the Child to this Court. We find and hold that clear and convincing evidence was proven of grounds for termination pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3) and that clear and convincing evidence was proven that it was in the Child’s best interest for Mother’s parental rights to be terminated, and we affirm.
 
Sullivan County Court of Appeals 03/27/15
Brian S. Roberson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02565-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Brian S. Roberson, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Circuit Court for Williamson County.  He was convicted for the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine and sentenced to thirty years’ imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Dennie Louis Price, Jr.
W2014-01331-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Dennie Louis Price, Jr., appeals the trial court's revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his sentence of twelve years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in revoking his probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Jordan Alexander Rodrigues
M2014-01001-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Jordan Alexander Rodrigues, appeals the revocation of his probation by the Marshall County Circuit Court.  He previously entered a guilty plea to burglary for which he received a three-year suspended sentence.  In this appeal, he argues that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation and ordering a sentence of full confinement rather than imposing split confinement.  Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
Curtis Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01779-CCA-R3-CO

The Petitioner, Curtis Johnson, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he was illegally sentenced under the repealed Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1982 rather than the Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
Frederick Moore v. Mike Parris, Warden
W2014-02128-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Frederick Moore, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court's denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, he asserts that his indictment is void and illegal and deprives the trial court of jurisdiction because the State illegally amended it and improperly obtained a superseding indictment. He further asserts that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because he was denied due process when he was not afforded a second preliminary hearing. Upon review, we affirm the the trial court's denial of the petition.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Mechelle L. Montgomery
M2013-01149-SC-R11-CD

The defendant, who was indicted for driving under the influence and violating the open container law, moved to suppress all evidence discovered during the search of her car, which included an open container of alcohol and a small amount of marijuana. The trial court granted the motion to suppress, holding that one of the officers involved had unreasonably prolonged the investigatory stop. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. Because the officer had a reasonable basis for extending the stop by ten to fifteen minutes while awaiting a second officer and the duration of the detention did not exceed the proper parameters, we set aside the order of suppression and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

Williamson County Supreme Court 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. John D. Bailey
W2014-00705-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, John D. Bailey, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by failing to suppress his statement to the police and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Eddie Joe Whitaker
E2014-01066-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Eddie Joe Whitaker, was convicted by a Campbell County jury of retaliation for past action and failure to appear. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-510, -16-609. On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction for retaliation for past action but that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the conviction for failure to appear. Therefore, the conviction for retaliation for past action is affirmed, and the conviction for failure to appear is reversed and that charge is dismissed.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15