Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 07/29/2014
Format: 07/29/2014
Mary Wheetley v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01707-SC-WCM-WC

This appeal involves a claim for workers’ compensation benefits filed by a nurse employed
at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute. The nurse filed a claim with the Tennessee
Claims Commission because she believed that she had contracted tuberculosis when her hand came into contact with a patient’s blood. The claims commissioner dismissed the nurse’s claim on the basis that she failed to produce expert medical evidence that she had
tuberculosis, and the nurse sought judicial review under Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51. We affirm the
judgment of the Claims Commission.

Workers Compensation Panel 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Jan Michelle Ell
E2013-01624-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jan Michelle Ell, was convicted by a Blount County Circuit Court jury of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony, and conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-403, 39-12-103 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent sentences of twenty-two years for the especially aggravated robbery conviction and twelve years for the conspiracy conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
In Re: Alexis C.
E2013-02498-COA-R3-PT

Jessica C. (“Mother”) and Jesse W. (“Father”) appeal the termination of their parental rights to the minor child Alexis C. (“the Child”). We find and hold that clear and convincing evidence was shown that grounds existed to terminate Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to the Child for abandonment by wanton disregard pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1- 113(g)(1) and Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-102(1)(A)(iv), and for severe abuse pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(4) and Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-102, and that clear and convincing evidence was shown that the termination was in the Child’s best interest. We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Juvenile Court for Greene County (“the Juvenile Court”) terminating Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to the Child.

Greene County Court of Appeals 06/25/14
Robin D. Wilson, et al. v. Joseph M. Weese, et al.
E2013-00184-COA-R3-CV

In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that their easement rights had been interfered with by the defendant property owners. The trial court determined, inter alia, that the defendants, subject to the provisions in the deed at issue, could exclude all others from their property. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm the determination of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Appeals 06/25/14
Antonio Santial Jones v. State of Tennessee
M2012-01548-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Antonio Santial Jones, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and is currently serving a sentence of twenty-two years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to supply the petitioner with discovery, only beginning preparation for trial the day before, failing to convey a plea offer to the petitioner, and ignoring the self-defense claim asserted by the petitioner. Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
Albert Wayne Franchek, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02631-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Albert Wayne Franchek, Jr., appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his guilty plea to selling one-half gram or more of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class B felony, and resulting eight-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that he did not plead guilty knowingly and voluntarily. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Allen Felts
M2013-01404-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Joshua Allen Felts, on count one of theft of property valued less than $500, a Class A misdemeanor; on count two of attempted theft of property valued more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class E felony; on count three of attempted theft of property valued more than $500 but less than $1,000, a Class A misdemeanor; and on counts four and five of theft of property valued more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions, the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress, and the State’s failure to preserve the chain of custody of the stolen items. Upon review, we affirm the appellant’s conviction in count five. However, the State concedes, and we agree, that the State failed to establish the value of the stolen items in the remaining counts; therefore, we remand to the trial court for amendment of the judgments of conviction in counts one and four to theft of property valued less than $500, a Class A misdemeanor, and to reflect the reduction in the sentence on each of those convictions to eleven months and twenty-nine days. Additionally, we remand to the trial court for amendment of the judgments of conviction in counts two and three to attempted theft of property valued less than $500, a Class B misdemeanor, and to reflect the reduction in the sentence on each of those convictions to six months.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Brian Dunkley & William Miller
M2012-00548-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County jury convicted Defendant Brian Dunkley of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The jury convicted Defendant William Miller of one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, one count of attempted aggravated burglary, and one count of attempted first degree murder. The trial court sentenced both defendants to effective sentences of twenty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant Dunkley asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it admitted text messages into evidence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b); (2) the trial erred when it denied his motion for new trial because the trial court failed to function as the thirteenth juror and because newly discovered evidence warranted a new trial; (3) there is insufficient evidence to support his conviction; and (4) the trial court improperly applied enhancement factors when it sentenced him. Defendant Miller asserts that: (1) there is insufficient evidence to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for new trial because the trial court failed to function as the thirteenth juror; and (3) the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
Dennis Wade Suttles v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01016-CCA-R3-PD

The petitioner, Dennis Wade Suttles, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his petition in which he sought relief from his death sentence, claiming that he was intellectually disabled. On appeal, the petitioner contends that the trial court erred in denying (1) his petition for writ of error coram nobis, (2) his motion for a declaratory judgment, and (3) his stand-alone claim under the intellectual disability provisions in Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-203. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Ashley K. Moyers
E2013-01608-CCA-R3-CD

Ashley K. Moyers (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of sale or delivery of a Schedule II drug in a drug-free zone. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years’ incarceration and imposed the $40,000 fine assessed by the jury. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting her conviction. She also contends that her $40,000 fine is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction but decrease the Defendant’s fine from $40,000 to $2,000.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Jennifer Leigh Salyers
E2013-02332-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jennifer Leigh Salyers, pled guilty to two counts of reckless aggravated assault. The trial court denied the Defendant’s application for judicial diversion and sentenced her to serve sixty days in jail, followed by two years of supervised probation. The Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it denied her application for judicial diversion and a sentence of full probation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
Montrel Gilliam v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01187-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Montrel Gilliam, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Criminal Court for Shelby County. He was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and three counts of attempted first degree murder and received an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus sixty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Muhammad
W2013-01395-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Daniel Muhammad, and his co-defendant Michael Taylor were indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for aggravated arson. Defendant filed a motion to have his case severed from that of his co-defendant. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the lesser included offense of facilitation of aggravated arson. The jury was unable to reach a verdict as to co-defendant Taylor, and the trial court declared a mistrial. Defendant was sentenced as a Range II multiple offender to 12 years of incarceration. Defendant appeals his conviction and raises the following issues for our review: 1) whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion to sever; 2) whether the trial court erred by not granting Defendant’s motion for a mistrial; and 3) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction. After a careful review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Patrick David McCollum
W2013-00378-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Patrick David McCollum, pled guilty to one count of solicitation to commit aggravated assault, a Class E felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-102, -13-102. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to twenty months’ incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in denying his request for alternative sentencing; (2) that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request for judicial diversion; and (3) that the State abused its discretion in denying his request for pretrial diversion. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/14
Janet Wynn Snyder v. First Tennessee Bank, N.A.
E2013-01524-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a breach of contract claim brought for an alleged wrongful acceleration of a note in default, a cause of action currently unrecognized in Tennessee law. Janet Wynn Snyder (“Snyder”) sued First Tennessee Bank (“the Bank”) in the Chancery Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”). Snyder alleged that the Bank abused its discretion in accelerating her debt when it knew that it held funds of Snyder’s in a trust sufficient to cover her debt to the Bank. The Bank filed a motion to dismiss under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6), which the Trial Court granted. Snyder appeals. We hold that this claimed wrongful acceleration is not an existing cause of action in this state, and we decline the invitation to create such a cause of action. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 06/24/14
James Sellars v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02380-CCA-R3-PC

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to dismiss or in the alternative to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitioner, James Sellars, has appealed the lower court’s order dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that the trial court improperly sentenced him as a career offender. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in dismissing the petition for post-conviction relief and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Kizer
M2013-01036-CCA-R3-CD

Petitioner, Robert Kizer, appeals from the Stewart County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief after a 2009 guilty plea to the sale of cocaine. Petitioner argues he was deprived of due process because the court dismissed his post-conviction petition without a hearing or notice during his probation revocation hearing, and that the post-conviction court erred by concluding that the petition was untimely. We agree, and we remand this case for further post-conviction proceedings.
 

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/14
In Re Samuel P. Et Al.
M2013-02234-COA-R3-PT

Appellants are the parents of three children who were initially placed in foster care due to evidence of drug use in the parents’ home. In the Juvenile Court, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) petitioned to declare the children dependent and neglected and for emergency temporary custody. Following entry of a protective custody order, DCS filed an amended petition to declare the children dependent and neglected based upon additional allegations of severe child abuse. The Juvenile Court found severe abuse and the children to be dependent and neglected. Parents appealed to the Circuit Court, and DCS filed a petition to terminate parental rights. Following a trial, during which neither parent testified or presented evidence, the Circuit Court terminated parental rights as to each of the children. Both parents appeal the Circuit Court’s judgment. We affirm.
 

Pickett County Court of Appeals 06/24/14
In Re: Donna E. W., Et Al.
M2013-02856-COA-R3-PT

The trial court terminated Mother’s parental rights on the grounds of abandonment for failure to support, persistence of conditions, and failure to substantially comply with the permanency plans. On appeal, Mother asserts that the trial court erred in determining that termination of her parental rights was in the children’s best interest. We affirm.
 

Lawrence County Court of Appeals 06/24/14
Karen Elizabeth Touchton v. Paul Jerome Touchton
M2013-01749-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce proceeding, Mother filed a petition seeking a modification of Father’s parenting time, recovery of medical expenses incurred on behalf of the parties’ child, and an increase in child support. The trial court modified Father’s parenting time, ordered an upward deviation to Father’s support obligation, and awarded Wife judgment for one-half of the medical expenses and one-half of the attorney fees she incurred in prosecuting the petition;the court issued an order that the judgment for medical expenses, back child support, and attorney fees be enforced by wage assignment. Father appeals the upward deviation, the award forone-half of the child’s medical expenses,and the wage assignment; Mother appeals the award for one-half of her attorney fees. We modify the wage assignment order to exclude the amount of the judgment for attorney fees; in all other respects we affirm the judgment.

Coffee County Court of Appeals 06/24/14
Kathy Hudson v. William T. Hudson
W2013-00999-COA-R3-CV

This divorce appeal involves the division of marital property. The husband claims the trial court erred in its valuation of the marital assets and in its overall distribution of the marital estate. Discerning no error, we affirm.

McNairy County Court of Appeals 06/23/14
Deborah Mason Hawkins, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Wayne Hawkins, Deceased, v. Rodney A. Martin, M.D., and Baptist Memorial Hospital
W2013-02102-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves compliance with the statutory requirements for a health care liability action. The plaintiff filed a health care liability lawsuit. The attorney for the plaintiff inadvertently failed to provide the defendant health care providers with medical authorizations that complied with T.C.A. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E). The defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, finding no extraordinary cause to justify noncompliance with the statutory requirement. The plaintiff filed his first appeal. The appellate court vacated the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for the trial court to consider the totality of the circumstances, including those of the attorney. After additional discovery on remand, the trial court again held that the plaintiff had not established extraordinary cause for noncompliance with the statutory requirement, and so dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiff again appeals. After a careful review of the record, we find no abuse of the trial court’s discretion and affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/23/14
Wise North Shore Properties, LLC v. 3 Daughters Media, Inc., Et Al.
E2013-01953-COA-R3-CV

Wise North Shore Properties, LLC (“Plaintiff”) appeals the order of the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”) dismissing Plaintiff’s claims against Gary E. Burns. We find and hold as a matter of law that Mr. Burns executed the contract at issue in this case both in his capacity as CEO of 3 Daughters Media, Inc. and in his individual capacity personally guaranteeing the contract. We, therefore, reverse the Trial Court’s June 18, 2013 order dismissing Plaintiff’s claims against Mr. Burns.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 06/23/14
Antwon Cook v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00291-CCA-R3-ECN

The pro se petitioner, Antwon Cook, appeals as of right from the McMinn County Criminal Court’s order denying his petition for writ of error coram nobis. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the McMinn County Criminal Court.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/14
Kelvin Dewayne King v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02505-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Kelvin Dewayne King, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by dismissing his petition as having been untimely filed. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/14