Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 03/01/2015
Format: 03/01/2015
Yoni Sales Barahona v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00415-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Yoni Sales Barahona, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Criminal Court for Davidson County.  He was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at the appellate level.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/04/15
James Allen Gooch v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00454-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, James Allen Gooch, challenges the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he was denied effective assistance of counsel, raising seven grounds to support his claim.  Additionally, he claims that cumulative error necessitates reversal of the post-conviction court.  After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/04/15
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Tyrell Cross
E2014-00963-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Joshua Tyrell Cross, pleaded guilty to attempted rape, and the trial court sentenced him to thirty-one days of time served followed by eight years of probation. The Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) his judgment is void because the information charging him with attempted rape failed to allege each of the required elements of the offense; (2) the factual basis submitted in support of the Defendant’s conviction is insufficient because it did not contain the required culpable mental state; (3) his judgment of conviction should be reversed because there is no record that he was arraigned or that he waived arraignment; and (4) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to withdraw his guilty plea and remand the case for a preliminary hearing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for a preliminary hearing on the original charges.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/04/15
State of Tennessee v. Thomas William Brown
M2013-02327-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Thomas William Brown, was convicted by a jury of attempted aggravated burglary and sentenced to four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court should have suppressed his statements to the police immediately after his arrest, that the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to present evidence that witnesses identified appellant’s shirt in a “show up” procedure, that the trial court erred by allowing the CAD Operational Report into evidence during the State’s rebuttal proof, and that the trial court erred by denying a special jury instruction request.  Following our careful review of the evidence, we have concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support appellant’s conviction for attempted aggravated burglary and therefore reverse the judgment of the trial court.  Appellant’s charge is dismissed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/04/15
In Re Aalyah P.
W2014-01900-COA-R3-PT

The Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, and we therefore have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal. Consequently, this appeal is dismissed.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/03/15
In Re Robert C.
M2014-00702-COA-R3-PT

This  is  a  termination  of parental  rights  case.  The  trial  court  terminated Appellant/Father’s parental  rights  on the grounds of:  (1)  abandonment; (2)  substantial  non-compliance  with  the  permanency plan;  and  (3)  persistence  of conditions. Because the grounds for termination of Father’s parental rights are  met by clear and  convincing  evidence,  and there  is  also  clear  and  convincing evidence that termination of Father’s parental rights is in the best interest of the child, we affirm and remand.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 02/03/15
Diana L. Powell, et al v. Penny D. Clark
M2014-01083-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a limitation of liability in an insurance policy. Appellant Allstate Insurance Company seeks reduction of its uninsured motorist liability by amounts paid by Appellee insured’s automobile insurance carrier. In light of the legislative intent that offsets should be limited to monies received from legally responsible parties or entities, and the limiting language used in the Allstate policy, we conclude that the trial court correctly denied the offset in this case. Affirmed and remanded.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 02/03/15
Joy Littleton, et al v. TIS Insurance Services, Inc.
E2014-00938-COA-R3-CV

During a prior lawsuit, a construction company – in exchange for a covenant not to execute against the company’s assets – assigned to the entity that obtained a judgment against it the company’s insurance coverage claims. The plaintiffs in the previous action thereafter assigned those rights to the current plaintiffs to allow them to step into the shoes of the construction company and bring suit against the insurance broker. The trial court entered judgment on the pleadings in favor of the insurance broker on the ground that the current plaintiffs would not be entitled to recover any compensatory damages at trial. The plaintiffs appeal. We reverse.

Knox County Court of Appeals 02/03/15
Juastin Rashad Forrest v. Todd Wiggins, Warden
E2014-00978-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner, Justin Rashad Forrest, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner contends that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because his state sentence is void because the trial courtlacked jurisdiction to impose concurrentstate and federal sentences. He also contends that the State breached the plea agreement that called for concurrent federal and state sentences and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel that prevented him from entering a knowing and voluntary guilty plea. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/03/15
State of Tennessee v. Dewayne Lee Williams
E2014-00964-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Dewayne Lee Williams, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation for his convictions for aggravated burglary and vandalism and ordering his effective three-year sentence into execution. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion because insufficient evidence exists to support the revocation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/03/15
State of Tennessee v. Linzey Danielle Smith
M2013-02818-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Linzey Danielle Smith, entered a plea of guilty to the offense of driving while her blood or breath alcohol concentration was 0.08% or more (DUI) in violation of T.C.A. § 55-10-401(2), but explicitly reserved the right to appeal a certified question of law pursuant to Tenn. R. Crim. P. 37(b)(2)(A).  The certified question of law limits this court to the following narrow issue: whether probable cause that Defendant had committed the Class C misdemeanor offense described in T.C.A. § 55-8-123(1) (a driver must maintain a vehicle entirely within a single lane “as nearly as practicable”) authorized a stop of Defendant’s vehicle by a state trooper or, alternatively, whether the trooper had reasonable suspicion, based on specific and articulable facts, that Defendant had committed or was about to commit the Class C misdemeanor offense set forth in T.C.A. § 55-8-123(1).  Based upon the General Assembly’s classification as a criminal offense the failure of a driver to maintain her vehicle totally within a single lane of traffic “as nearly as practicable” and guidance from our supreme court’s decision in State v. Brotherton, 323 S.W.3d 866 (Tenn. 2010), we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Linzey Danielle Smith-Dissenting
M2013-02818-CCA-R3-CD

I respectfully disagree in the reasoning and result reached in the majority opinion.  The majority opinion concludes that our supreme court’s holding in Brotherton is dispositive and requires that this court affirm the defendant’s conviction.  However, in my view, Brotherton is clearly distinguishable from the instant case.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/02/15
Suntrust Bank v. Walter Joseph Burke a/k/a Walter Joseph Burke, Jr.
W2014-01443-COA-R3-CV

This is a garnishment case. Appellee bank served a writ of garnishment on the Appellant realty company for the wages of Appellee’s debtor, Walter Burke. Appellant answered the garnishment stating that Mr. Burke was an independent contractor, and that Appellant owed him no funds at the time of the garnishment. During the six-month period after the garnishment was served, Appellant paid Mr. Burke commissions totaling $10,671.23, but paid no monies pursuant to the garnishment filed by Appellee. Appellee later filed a motion for judgment against Appellant for its failure to honor the garnishment for the statutory six-month period. Appellant responded to the motion, arguing that it was not subject to continuous garnishment because Tennessee Code Annotated Section 26-2-214 only applies to employers. The trial court held that the Appellant was subject to the six-month, continuous garnishment period and awarded Appellee bank judgment in the amount of $2,667.81, representing twenty-five percent of commissions paid to Mr. Burke. Appellant appeals. We reverse and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 02/02/15
Carolyn Ann Farley v. Roger Dale Farley, Sr.
M2014-00814-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce action, Father filed a petition to modify the permanent parenting plan to make him the primary residential parent. The trial court found a material change of circumstance but concluded that it was not in the child’s best interest to change the primary residential parent. We find no error in the trial court’s decision and affirm.

Hickman County Court of Appeals 02/02/15
Frederick Zahn v. Margaret Zahn Logan
M2014-00441-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce action, Father filed a petition to modify the permanent parenting plan to make him the primary residential parent. The trial court found a material change of circumstance but concluded that it was not in the child’s best interest to change the primary residential parent. We find no error in the trial court’s decision and affirm.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 02/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Randy Carl Hass
E2013-02679-CCA-R3-CD

As part of a plea agreement, the Appellant, Randy Carl Hass, pled guilty to several counts of facilitation of sexual exploitation of a minor and official misconduct. The parties agreed to a sentence of twenty years, with fifteen of those years to be served under supervised probation. The Appellant applied for probation or alternative sentencing for the remainder of his sentence. The trial court denied the application, ruling that the remaining five years of the sentence would be served in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court committed an abuse of discretion in denying probation or alternative sentencing and that this decision is not entitled to the presumption of reasonableness. The State disagrees. Upon review, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying alternative sentencing or extending probation and ordering the Appellant to serve five years of the sentence in confinement. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Chase Nathaniel Martin
E2014-00738-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Chase Nathaniel Martin, was indicted by the Monroe County Grand Jury for burglary in August of 2012. Subsequently, he entered a best interest plea of guilty and was sentenced to eight years as a Range II, multiple offender on December 10, 2013. The trial court specified that Defendant could apply for Community Corrections. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider sentencing on January 16, 2014. After the denial of the motion to reconsider and denial of a request for placement in Community Corrections, Defendant appealed. We waive the untimely filing of the notice of appeal and review the challenge to the sentence. After a review, we affirm the sentence.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
American Heritage Apartments, Inc. v. The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority, Hamilton County, Tennessee
E2014-00302-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff, American Heritage Apartments, Inc. (“American Heritage”), commenced this lawsuit to protest a monthly flat charge in the amount of $8.00 per unit imposed by the defendant, The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Authority (“the County WWTA”), on all of its sewer customers. The charge was instituted to fund a program designed to repair and refurbish private service laterals, defined as pieces of pipe that connect private property to the sewer lines. American Heritage sought declaratory judgment that the County WWTA, inter alia, had exceeded its authority by imposing an unjust and discriminatory charge. The County WWTA filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which the trial court initially denied. Upon the County WWTA’s amended motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment, American Heritage’s motion for partial summary judgment, and supplemental briefs submitted by both parties, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the County WWTA. The court found that because the Utility District Law of 1937, Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 7-82-101 to -804, provided an administrative procedure for contesting utility charges, no private right of action was available. The court further ruled that in the alternative, if a private right of action were allowed by this Court on appeal, American Heritage’s complaint could be certified as a class action lawsuit. American Heritage has appealed. Having determined that the trial court erred by applying the Utility District Law of 1937 to a non-utility district water and wastewater treatment authority, we reverse the grant of summary judgment. We affirm the trial court’s ruling regarding the class action certification.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 01/30/15
Sandra Lynn Hobbs v. Lisa Hobbs Nottingham, et al.
E2013-002602-COA-R3-CV

The quasi-parties in this matter had their bids accepted at a judicial sale, but they failed to carry out their purchases and close on the properties. After a re-sale was conducted, the trial court charged the quasi-parties with the difference between the amount of the original bids and the amount received for the properties at the re-sale. They were also assessed the expenses resulting from the re-sale. The quasi-parties appeal. We affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 01/30/15
Nathan B. Overton et al. v. Westgate Resorts, LTD., L.P. et al.
E2014-00303-COA-R3-CV

This case involves the propriety of an award of punitive damages in the amount of $600,000. The plaintiffs sued the defendant timeshare developer, seeking to rescind a contract for purchase of a timeshare interest. The plaintiffs alleged, inter alia, that the defendant was guilty of fraud and misrepresentation, as well as violations of the Tennessee Time-share Act and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Following the hearing, the trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and allowed them to rescind the contract, ordering repayment of their purchase money. The trial court found that the defendant had violated the respective statutory provisions and was guilty of fraud and misrepresentation. The trial court thus determined that an award of punitive damages was proper, and following a second hearing regarding the amount of the punitive damage award, set such award at $600,000. The defendant has appealed this award. While we affirm the determination of the trial court that $600,000 represents a reasonable award of punitive damages considering all applicable factors, we must order remittitur of that award to $500,000 in accordance with the statutory cap found in Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-39-104(a)(5).

Sevier County Court of Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Tyrone R. Teasley
M2014-00507-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Tyrone R. Teasley, pleaded guilty before the Circuit Court for Williamson  County in case number II-CR087471 to first offense driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor, driving on a revoked, suspended, or cancelled license, a Class A misdemeanor, and reckless driving, a Class B misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. §§ 55-10-401 (Supp. 2014), 55-50-504 (2012), 55-10-205 (Supp. 2014).  The Defendant also pleaded guilty in case number II-CR017000 to first offense per se DUI, a Class A misdemeanor, resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor, and failure to report an accident, a Class C misdemeanor.   See id. §§ 55-10-401 (Supp. 2014), 39-16-602 (2014), 55-10-106 (2012).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two consecutive terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days for the DUI convictions to be served on probation after 180 days’ concurrent confinement.  The Defendant also received concurrent sentences of six months for the resisting arrest and the reckless driving convictions to be served on probation after thirty days’ concurrent confinement, of eleven months, twenty-nine days for the driving on a revoked license conviction to be served on probation after 180 days’ concurrent confinement, and of thirty days’ concurrent confinement for failure to report an accident, for an effective sentence of twenty-three months and twenty-eight days with all but 180 days to be served on probation.  The trial court also ordered as a condition of probation that the Defendant “lose” his license for five years.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by ordering a five-year license suspension.  We reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand for entry of modified judgments reflecting the loss of the Defendant’s driving privilege for two years in compliance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-404(a)(1)(A) (Supp. 2014).

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Leon Booker
M2014-00840-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Leon Booker, pled guilty to theft over $500, a Class E felony, and theft under $500, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced as a Range III offender to six years for the felony conviction and to eleven months and twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor conviction, to be served consecutively.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range III offender.  After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Clebron Glade Mealer, Jr.
M2014-01110-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Clebron Glade Mealer, Jr., was indicted by a Marshall County Grand Jury for two counts of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103(a), -105(a)(4).  Count one was dismissed, and Mealer entered a guilty plea to the theft charge in count two, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of his sentence at a later hearing.  When Mealer failed to appear at the sentencing hearing for his theft conviction, he was indicted for failure to appear, and a capias warrant was issued for his arrest.  Some time later, Mealer was arrested and entered a guilty plea to the failure to appear charge.  The trial court subsequently sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to consecutive sentences of nine years for the theft conviction and four years for the failure to appear conviction.  On appeal, Mealer argues that his sentence is excessive and contrary to the law.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
Markhayle Jackson v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02027-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Markhayle Jackson, entered a best interest plea to first degree premeditated murder and received a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Petitioner now appeals the trial court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his guilty plea was not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered. Having reviewed the record before us, we affirm the judgment of trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
Willie Price v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00186-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Willie Price, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner was convicted of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated burglary, and robbery. He received an effective sentence of 60 years in confinement. Petitioner challenged his convictions and sentences on appeal, and a panel of this court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Willie Price, No. W2009-00083-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 376625 (Tenn. Crim. App., Feb. 3, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn., June 17, 2010). On appeal, Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly investigate Petitioner’s case, failing to call witnesses at trial, and by not seeking to suppress DNA evidence. He also asserts that his appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, but Petitioner submitted no argument as to this issue in his brief. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15