Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014
In Re Kaylyn M.R.
E2013-01520-COA-R3-PT

This is a termination of parental rights case in which the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Father to the Child. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of Father’s parental rights on the statutory grounds of persistence of conditions, abandonment for failure to provide a suitable home, and abandonment for wanton disregard of the Child’s welfare. The court likewise found that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Child’s best interest. Father appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Jefferson County Court of Appeals 03/19/14
In Re Jalin M.B., et al
E2013-00635-COA-R3-JV

This is an appeal from the trial court’s final order modifying a custody arrangement that designated Mother as the primary residential parent and awarded Father limited visitation. Father filed a petition to modify, claiming that a material change in circumstances necessitated a change in the parenting plan. Following a hearing, the trial court designated Father as the primary residential parent, awarded the Parents equal time with the Children, and modified Father’s child support obligation. Mother appeals. We affirm the trial court’s custody determination but reverse its child support determination. The case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/19/14
Melissa L. Blackshear (Thompson) v. Stephen D. Blackshear
E2012-02499-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the parties’ post-divorce issues. The father moved to modify his child support obligation because of a significant variance in his income. Following a hearing, the trial court modified the father’s child support obligation from $2,000 a month to $73 per month, awarded a $21,124 judgment against the mother for overpayment, and awarded the father attorneys’s fees in the amount of $10,000. The mother appeals. We vacate and remand.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 03/19/14
In the Matter of: B.M., C.M., and C.R.
W2013-00392-COA-R10-JV

This is an interlocutory appeal involving the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction. The juvenile court entered an order declaring three children dependent and neglected; the order included a no-contact provision as to the father of one of the children. The mother appealed the juvenile court’s decision to the circuit court. After she filed the appeal to the circuit court, the father of the other two children filed a contempt petition in the circuit court asserting that the mother and the other father violated the no-contact provision in the juvenile court’s order. The mother filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the circuit court was without subject matter jurisdiction to hear a contempt petition arising out of the juvenile court’s order. The circuit court denied the mother’s motion to dismiss but did not reach the merits of the contempt petition. The appellate court granted the mother permission for an extraordinary appeal under Tenn. R. App. P. 10, to address only the circuit court’s subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the petitioner father’s contempt petition. After permission for the extraordinary appeal was granted, the circuit court held an evidentiary hearing and determined that the petitioner father’s two children were not dependent and neglected. The circuit court then vacated the juvenile court’s order as to those two children, including the no-contact provision. Under the circumstances, we find that the issue presented on appeal is no longer justiciable and that this Court improvidently granted permission for the Rule 10 appeal. Accordingly, we decline to address the issue presented and dismiss the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/19/14
In re: Free "U" Bonds, Inc. and Phillip Cole Hatmaker
E2013-00782-CCA-R3-CO

The appellants, Free “U” Bail Bonds, Inc. and Phillip Cole Hatmaker, appeal the Campbell County Circuit Court’s revocation of a convicted felon’s ability to act as a bail bondsman. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
Brian Brawner v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00933-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Brian Brawner, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner was convicted of facilitation of attempted first degree premeditated murder, aggravated assault, and especially aggravated kidnapping. The conviction for aggravated assault was merged into the conviction for facilitation of attempted first degree premeditated murder. On appeal he contends that the post-conviction court erroneously denied his petition because he was denied the right to effective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to file a notice of alibi and failed to preserve the testimony of a witness for appeal. Following a review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Mark Bridges
W2013-01481-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Christopher Mark Bridges, pled guilty to violating his probation and now appeals the trial court’s order requiring him to serve his sentence in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Edward Brown
W2012-02573-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Edward Brown, was convicted of attempted second degree murder, a Class C felony, and reckless endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant was sentenced to eight years at thirty percent as a Range I offender for his attempted second degree murder conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the reckless endangerment conviction. On appeal the defendant argues that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain a conviction for attempted second degree murder and that the trial court erred in admitting photographs of the crime scene and of the injuries to the female victim. Having reviewed the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction for attempted second degree murder and that the trial court did not err in admitting the photographs. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
Terence Davis v. Cherry Lindamood, Warden
W2013-01081-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Terence Davis, appeals as of right from the Hardeman County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner contends that one of his judgments of conviction is void because it fails to properly reflect his pretrial jail credit. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Richard Dickerson
W2012-02283-CCA-R3-CD

Richard Dickerson (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of second degree murder. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty-five years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court (1) should have granted a mistrial following “jury misconduct”; (2) erred in admitting proof of prior bad acts; and (3) imposed an excessive sentence. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
Troy Fuller v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01244-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Troy Fuller, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for rape, aggravated criminal trespass, and violation of an order or protection. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Coby Curtis Harrison
W2013-01596-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Coby Curtis Harrison, admitted to violating his probation and now appeals the trial court’s order requiring him to serve the remainder of his three-year sentence for aggravated assault in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Weakley County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
Antonio Hampton v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00320-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Antonio Hampton, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Ramone Lawson
W2013-00324-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Ramone Lawson, was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus six years. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred when it instructed the jury about the possible sentences and release eligibility dates for first degree murder. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
Anton Mayhew v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00973-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Anton Mayhew, filed a petition for post-conviction relief attacking his two jury convictions for aggravated robbery and resulting twelve-year sentence. The post-conviction court denied relief following an evidentiary hearing, finding that the Petitioner had failed to prove his allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel by clear and convincing evidence. In this appeal as of right, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a severance of the Petitioner’s trial from that of his co-defendant. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/14
James D. Holder and Barbara L. Holder v. S & S Family Entertainment, LLC
M2013-00497-COA-R3-CV

This dispute arose at the end of two long-term commercial leases and a contract for the sale of two businesses and their assets, which businesses operated at the leased premises. The issues pertain to what assets were purchased, whether the tenant properly maintained the premises during the lease term, and whether the tenant returned the premises to the landlord in the same condition as at the commencement of the leases. The trial court ruled that the tenant had not purchased the assets in dispute, which the tenant removed at the end of the lease; thus, the tenant was liable for removing the assets. The court also found that the tenant breached both leases by failing to maintain the premises and failing to return the premises in the same condition as at the commencement of the leases. The tenant insists the court erred in finding that the landlord owned the assets in dispute; it also insists it did not breach any duties arising under the leases. The tenant also contends it is not liable for any of the numerous categories of damages awarded because the landlord failed to prove its damages. We affirm the trial court’s rulings as to the ownership of the disputed assets and the findings that the tenant breached numerous provisions of the leases. As for the various awards of damages, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 03/19/14
Betty Baxter v. Heritage Bank & Trust, and Proctor Financial Insurance Corporation, Inc.
M2012-02689-COA-R3-CV

Homeowner sued Bank, alleging that it had settled her claim for damages to her house with Insurance Company without her consent. Bank served discovery on Homeowner, and when Homeowner did not comply with discovery requests to Bank’s satisfaction, Bank moved to dismiss Homeowner’s claims. Trial court granted Bank’s motion to dismiss, and Homeowner moved to set aside the dismissal pursuant to Rule 59. Trial court denied Homeowner’s motion to set aside, and Homeowner appealed. We reverse the trial court’s judgment denying Homeowner’s motion to set aside because (1) the scheduling order included a deadline for completing discovery that had not yet passed and (2) there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing by Homeowner or her attorney.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 03/19/14
Steve Dickerson et al v. Regions Bank et al
M2012-01415-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiffs, husband and wife, filed this action on February 17, 2009, to quiet title to property they own in Williamson County, Tennessee. At issue was a Deed of Trust that secured a 1997 promissory note, with an original maturity date in 1998, executed by a South Carolina limited liability company of which the plaintiff husband was a member. Plaintiffs asserted, inter alia, that the statute of limitations for the 1997 note and deed of trust had lapsed; therefore, the deed of trust encumbering their property should be released. Defendant Beta, LLC, filed a counterclaim for judicial foreclosure asserting it was the assignee of an October 8, 1998 renewal note with a maturity date of October 1999, the maturity date of which was subsequently extended to October 2000 pursuant to a Change in Terms Agreement executed in October 1999. It is based on the Change in Terms Agreement that Beta insists the statute of limitations had not lapsed and it is entitled to enforce the deed of trust. Although Beta was unable to produce an original or photocopy of an October 1998 renewal promissory note or evidence that complied with Tenn. Code Ann. § 24-8-101 to prove it was a lost negotiable instrument, the trial court held that a copy of the 1999 Change of Terms Agreement was sufficient to established the existence of the October 1998 renewal note and the extension of the maturity date to 2000; thus the statute of limitations had not run and Beta was vested with the right to enforce the deed of trust. Therefore, the court dismissed Plaintiffs complaint to quiet title and ruled in favor of Beta on the issue of foreclosure. On appeal Plaintiffs contend that the evidence was insufficient to support the court’s rulings. Particularly, Plaintiffs contend the trial court erred in finding that the Change in Terms Agreement dated October 8, 1999, was sufficient to establish Beta’s claims under an October 1998 promissory note of which there is no copy. We have determined the trial court erred in finding that the evidence was sufficient to satisfy Beta’s burden of proof as the foreclosing party. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, including a determination of the specific relief to which Plaintiffs may be entitled.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 03/19/14
Phillip Pye v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01191-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Phillip Pye, appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief as untimely. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that due process concerns should toll the one-year statute of limitations to allow review of his underlying claims. Because the Petitioner has failed to prove any grounds upon which to toll the statute of limitations, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Xen Maples
E2013-00961-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Anthony Xen Maples, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury conviction of second offense driving under the influence (“DUI”), claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the fine imposed by the trial court was excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Tommy Higdon
E2012-02146-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Tommy Higdon, was convicted by a Campbell County Criminal Court jury of three counts of reckless endangerment, Class A misdemeanors, assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 39-13-101, 39-13-103, 39-16-602 (2010). He was sentenced to concurrent sentences of eleven months, twenty-nine days for the reckless endangerment and assault convictions and six months for the resisting arrest conviction, all to be served onprobation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) his Fifth Amendment rights were violated because the indictment was improperly amended and a defect existed in the grand jury proceedings, (2) he was denied his right to confront witnesses against him, (3) his right to a speedy trial was violated, (4) his three reckless endangerment convictions violate principles of double jeopardy, and (5) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/14
Jeff and Melissa Fitzpatrick v. State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services
M2013-00823-COA-R3-CV

The petitioners are foster parents who were indicated by the Department of Children’s Services as perpetrators of child neglect for “lack of supervision” and also for “environmental neglect.” The lack of supervision allegation arose out of an incident in which a foster child who was placed in the petitioners’ home was found fondling the private parts of a younger foster sibling on two occasions during the same evening. The environmental neglect allegation was due to the condition of the petitioners’ home when the DCS investigator arrived to look into the report of child-on-child sexual abuse. The petitioners requested an administrative hearing. After a four-day contested case hearing before an administrative law judge, the indication for environmental neglect was deemed unfounded, but the indication for lack of supervision was upheld. The petitioners filed a petition for judicial review in chancery court, and upon reviewing the record, the court upheld the indication for lack of supervision. The petitioners appeal to this Court, arguing that there is no substantial and material evidence to support their indication for lack of supervision, that they have been denied procedural and substantive due process,and that they are entitled to an award of attorney’s fees incurred in defending against the allegation of environmental neglect that was deemed unfounded, as well as the allegation of lack of supervision. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the chancery court in part, and we reverse in part and remand for further proceedings.

Putnam County Court of Appeals 03/18/14
Charles Nardone v. Louis A. Cartwright, Jr. , et al.
E2013-00522-COA-R3-CV

Charles Nardone (“Plaintiff”) sued Louis A. Cartwright, Jr. and Cartwright Communication Technology, Inc. (“CCT”) alleging, among other things, slander and libel. During trial, defendants moved for a directed verdict, which the Trial Court granted by order entered December 6, 2012. Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of his claim for libel. We find and hold that Plaintiff failed to prove libel, and we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/17/14
In Re: Nathaniel C.T., Jason J.T. and Emerald S.T.
E2013-01001-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns attorney’s fees. Two relatives (“Petitioners”) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the parents (“Respondents”) to Respondents’ three minor children (“the Children”). The Chancery Court for Washington County (“1 the Trial Court”), pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13, appointed counsel to represent Respondents in the parental termination action. After a long, drawn out process, the parties resolved their legal dispute through a mediated agreement. The Children remained with Respondents. Respondents filed a motion for attorney’s fees, arguing that they should be awarded attorney’s fees under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-103(c). The Trial Court held that Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-103(c) was inapplicable under these circumstances and denied Respondents’ motion for attorney’s fees. Respondents appeal. We affirm the Trial Court.

Washington County Court of Appeals 03/17/14
In Re: Estate of Earsie L. Kirkman
W2013-02389-COA-R3-CV

The order appealed is not a final judgment and therefore, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Hardin County Court of Appeals 03/17/14