Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 05/29/2016
Format: 05/29/2016
In re Aniston M. et al.
E2015-02076-COA-R3-PT

This appeal arises from a termination of parental rights. The Tennessee Department of Children‘s Services ("DCS") filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Sevier County ("the Juvenile Court") seeking to terminate the parental rights of James W. ("Father") to his children Aniston and Chloe ("the Children"). After a trial, the Juvenile Court entered an order terminating Father‘s parental rights to the Children on the ground of wanton disregard and, also, finding that termination of Father‘s parental rights was in the Children‘s best interest. Father appeals, arguing that the Juvenile Court‘s failure to grant his request for appointed counsel during the earlier dependency and neglect proceeding warrants reversal of the Juvenile Court‘s order terminating his parental rights to the Children. We hold that any alleged deficiencies in the dependency and neglect proceedings were remedied by the protections afforded by the termination proceeding, and that, in any event, Father was not disadvantaged by any alleged deficiencies. We affirm the judgment of the Juvenile Court in its entirety.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 05/05/16
Dallas Jay Stewart v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01682-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Dallas Jay Stewart, appeals from the denial of his petition seeking post-conviction relief from his convictions of rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, and exhibition of harmful material to a minor.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by finding that trial counsel was not ineffective by failing to object to testimony that the Petitioner took a polygraph test and by “opening the door” to evidence of an uncharged allegation that the Petitioner committed a sexual offense in Williamson County.  The Petitioner further contends that the post-conviction court erred by refusing to grant a continuance to allow the Petitioner additional time to prepare for the post-conviction hearing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
Charles Wayne Dalton v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02156-CCA-R3-ECN

The Petitioner, Charles Wayne Dalton, filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, seeking relief from his convictions of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.  The Petitioner contended that he entered guilty pleas and forfeited his right to appeal without knowing that he would be required to be on the sexual offender registry for life.  The trial court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Charles Wayne Dalton - Concurring
M2014-02156-CCA-R3-ECN

Although I am compelled to agree with the majority’s conclusion affirming the denial of coram nobis relief, I write separately to elaborate on the conundrum the petitioner faces in this case.  It is significant to me that the petitioner was convicted by a jury of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.  The State, the defense, and the trial court stipulated that at the time of his guilty plea to other charges and waiver of his right to appeal his jury convictions, the petitioner was not advised that he would be required to register as a sex offender, see T.C.A. § 40-39-211(a), (c), and that the petitioner’s offenses did not involve an element of sex. Despite the parties’ efforts to rectify the inequity of placing the petitioner on the sexual offender registry, because the petitioner’s kidnapping related convictions automatically trigger the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry Act, they were constrained by statute to comply.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
In re AAAA Bonding Company, LLC
M2014-02157-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, AAAA Bonding Company, LLC, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s revocation of its authority to write bail bonds.  The State concedes that the trial court erred because the evidence failed to show that the owner of the company and his wife, the circuit court clerk, commingled funds and, therefore, that she received an indirect benefit from his ownership of the company to justify the revocation.  However, the State requests that we remand the case to the trial court in order for the court to consider additional proof and make additional findings as to whether the court clerk is receiving some other direct or indirect benefit from her husband’s ownership of AAAA Bonding Company, LLC.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court but decline to remand the case for further proceedings.  Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is vacated.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Larry Malone aka Larry Sallis
W2015-00152-CCA-R3-CD

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Larry Malone, of theft of property valued $10,000 or more but less than $60,000 and vandalism of property valued $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, Class C felonies. On appeal, the appellant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, the appellant's conviction of felony theft is modified to theft of property valued $500 or less, a Class A misdemeanor. The appellant's felony vandalism conviction is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Albert Taylor
W2014-02446-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, Albert Taylor, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. On appeal, the Appellant argues that the trial court erred (1) by determining that, because his sentences had expired, he was not entitled to a motion hearing and (2) by treating his motion as a petition for habeas corpus relief. At first, the State conceded that the trial court erred. We originally determined that, even though the Appellant’s sentences were expired, he had stated a colorable claim and was entitled to a hearing, and therefore, we reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with Rule 36.1. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court’s recent opinion in State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200 (Tenn. 2015). After revisiting the issue, we conclude that the Appellant is not entitled to a hearing because his sentences have long ago expired. As such, we now affirm the trial court’s denial of the Appellant’s Rule 36.1 motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Roderick Williams
W2015-00832-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Roderick Williams, appeals his convictions for assault, aggravated assault, and aggravated criminal trespassing, and his effective sentence of sixteen years as a persistent offender. He argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in its determination of his offender classification; and (3) his convictions of assault and aggravated assault should be merged. We affirm the judgments of the trial court and remand for entry of a judgment regarding the charge dismissed before trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
Carl Jones, Jr. v. Doug Cook. et al.
E2015-01371-CCA-R3-HC

Pro se petitioner, Carl Jones, Jr., appeals the Bledsoe County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal, the petitioner argues that his judgment of conviction is void because the trial court failed to award him jail credit for time served on community corrections. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the habeas court and remand this matter for entry of an amended judgment awarding the petitioner 259 days of jail credit.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
William T. Minton v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00986-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, William T. Minton, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Sara Anne Neumann
E2015-00945-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Sara Anne Neumann, was charged with one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”). The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence from the traffic stop, arguing that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion that she was committing a traffic violation to justify the stop. The trial court agreed and granted the motion to suppress. The State now appeals, arguing that the officer’s observation of the defendant and his radar gun constituted reasonable suspicion. Following a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we conclude that the evidence preponderates against the findings of the trial court. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Pamela Moses
W2014-02220-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se defendant, Pamela Moses, appeals the Shelby County Circuit Court’s dismissal of her appeal of her convictions in the Bartlett Municipal Court for speeding and illegally parking in a handicapped parking space. Among other things, she argues that her notice of appeal was timely and that the trial court’s dismissal for failure to prosecute was improper because she was not notified of her trial date, in violation of her substantive and procedural due process rights. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
Marquon Green v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00162-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Marquon L. Green, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. More specifically he contends that trial counsel (1) failed to adequately communicate with him; (2) failed to file a motion to suppress his confession; (3) failed to prepare him to testify at trial; and (4) failed to adequately question and impeach the State's witnesses. Petitioner also argues that appellate counsel failed to address whether Petitioner's statement was the result of a coerced confession. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel or appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Marvin Johnson
W2015-00783-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Marvin Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-202 (2014). The trial court imposed a life sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, (3) the trial court erred by admitting an autopsy photograph of the victim, and (4) the trial court erred by denying his request for transcripts. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
John D. Glass v. Suntrust Bank, et al.
W2015-01603-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a trust. A beneficiary of the trust filed this lawsuit against the bank that served as trustee of the trust, alleging that the bank mismanaged the trust in various respects and violated several duties owed to the beneficiary. After a five-day bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the trustee-bank on all claims. The bank was awarded its attorney's fees and expenses. The beneficiary appeals. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Harris
W2015-00500-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Joseph Harris, appeals as of right from his jury conviction for aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction because violence was only used after the taking of the automobile had been completed; (2) that the trial court should have declared a mistrial when an alleged violation of Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), took place by a witness's reference to a co-defendant's statement that incriminated the Defendant; (3) that the trial court should have instructed the jury on joyriding as lesser-included offense of theft; and (4) that the trial court should have issued a special instruction on when a “taking” occurred by including additional language from State v. Swift, 308 S.W.3d 827 (Tenn. 2010). Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Patton Benfield
W2015-00532-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Kevin Patton Benfield, was convicted by a Henderson County jury of one count of aggravated assault and received an effective sentence of six years' confinement. On appeal, the sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction. Upon our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
Ameale Hudson v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01096-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Ameale Hudson, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel‘s failure to include in his motion for new trial the issue of the trial court‘s denial of two of the Petitioner‘s pretrial motions, which resulted in the waiver of the issues on direct appeal. He further asserts that the cumulative effect of trial counsel‘s errors entitles him to post-conviction relief. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/16
Rogers Group, Inc. v. Phillip E. Gilbert
M2015-01044-COA-R3-CV

Judgment debtor appeals the entry of a charging order which subjected the debtor’s interest in a limited liability company to satisfaction of the judgment debt.  Finding that the charging order is not a final judgment for purposes of appeal, we dismiss the appeal and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/03/16
Daniel B. Eisenstein v. WTVF-TV, et al.
M2015-00422-COA-R3-CV

On remand from a prior appeal, the parties engaged in discovery and the defendants then moved for summary judgment on the two remaining issues – claims of false light invasion of privacy against a television station and its employees. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the standard of actual malice was not met and awarding discretionary costs against the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed. We affirm.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/03/16
Douglas Brent Walker v. G.UB.MK Constructors
E2015-00346-SC-R3-WC

In 2003, an employee sustained injuries to his spine, pelvis, and shoulder while working for his employer. In 2007, the trial court determined that the employee was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the work-related injury and that his employer was responsible for authorized future medical treatment directly related to the work-related injury. In 2013, the employee filed a motion to compel medical benefits, asserting that his employer had refused to pay for medical treatment determined to be reasonable and necessary by his authorized treating physician. The trial court denied the motion, and the employee 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/02/16
In re Tristan B.
E2015-01993-COA-R3-PT

Father appeals the trial court's determination that termination of his parental rights is in the child's best interest. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence to terminate Father's parental rights on grounds of abandonment by wanton disregard, persistent conditions, and substantial non-compliance with a permanency plan. The trial court thereafter determined that termination is in the child's best interest. Discerning no error, we affirm both the trial court's rulings regarding grounds and its determination that termination is in the child's best interest.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 05/02/16
Angela Michelle Newberry v. Jeremy Mack Newberry
E2015-01801-COA-R3-CV

Father filed a petition to modify the parties’ permanent parenting plan to make him the primary residential parent. The trial court granted Father’s petition, finding that there had been a material change of circumstances and that a change of primary residential parent was in the best interest of the two younger children. Because the trial court applied an erroneous legal standard in making its determination of a material change of circumstances, we vacate and remand.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 05/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Duvil Lunsford
W2014-01926-CCA-R3-CD

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Ricky Duvil Lunsford, of attempted voluntary manslaughter and employing a deadly weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it: (1) failed to properly instruct the jury; (2) excluded an email from the Defendant to the victim about the decline of their marriage; (3) prevented the Defendant from testifying about the victim's prior aggressive tendencies; and (4) excluded evidence of the victim's prior domestic assault charge. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury as to self-defense. We reverse the judgments of conviction and remand for a new trial.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/16
Jeremy Curtis Workman v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00531-CCA-R3-PC

A Greene County jury convicted the Petitioner, Jeremy Curtis Workman, of five counts of rape of a child and two counts of incest, and the trial court sentenced him to serve twenty-five years, at 100%, followed by twelve years, at 30%. This Court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions. State v. Jeremy Workman, No. E2010-02278-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 6210667 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Dec. 13, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 16, 2012). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged, inter alia, that his trial counsel failed to present a defense by not presenting witnesses on the Petitioner's behalf and by failing to subpoena Dr. Chang, a doctor who examined the victim and who the Petitioner asserts gave “different conclusions.” After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief. We affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Greene County General Sessions Courts 04/29/16