Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 07/28/2015
Format: 07/28/2015
Terry L. Glenn v. Brenda Jones, Warden
W2014-01738-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Terry L. Glenn, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Courts summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his 1989 convictions for first degree burglary and grand larceny and his effective twenty-five-year sentence. He contends that the judgments are void. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/15
Andrew R. Lunn, DDS v. Carole Michelle Lunn
E2014-00865-COA-R3-CV

The appeal in this divorce litigation presents issues regarding proper valuation of the parties' business, proper division of marital assets, alimony, child support, attorney's fees, and court costs. The parties were married for seventeen years, with three children being born of the marriage. The husband is a dentist, who started his own practice during the parties' marriage. Much of the testimony at trial focused upon the proper value to be assigned to this marital asset. The trial court adopted the value assigned by the wife's expert of $430,376. The trial court then ordered that all of the marital assets be divided equally between the parties. Further, the trial court awarded Wife rehabilitative alimony, transitional alimony, and alimony in solido. The husband has appealed the trial court's final judgment. We reverse the trial court's valuation of the dental practice, and we remand this matter to the trial court for a proper determination of the value of such asset. The trial court will also be required to redistribute the parties' marital assets as necessary, in accordance with its redetermined valuation of this asset, in order to effectuate the trial court's decision to make an equal division of marital property between the parties.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 06/29/15
Andrew R. Lunn, DDS v. Carole Michelle Lunn - Concurring and Dissenting
E2014-00865-COA-R3-CV

I concur in the majority’s opinion with the sole exception that I cannot agree with the majority that the amount of alimony in futuro awarded to Wife should be increased from $500 per month after eight years to $2,288. I agree with the majority that the transitional alimony must be changed to another type of alimony to comply with Tennessee law, and that the only other type that fits under the statutes is alimony in futuro. My only disagreement is with the majority’s sua sponte changing of the amount ordered by the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 06/29/15
Corey Alan Bennett v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01637-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Corey Alan Bennett, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief without the opportunity to present evidence at a hearing. The petitioner pled guilty to two counts of attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and four counts of aggravated stalking. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he received a ten-year Range I sentence in the Department of Correction. The petitioner filed an untimely post-conviction petition asserting an involuntary guilty plea based on the ineffective assistance of counsel and newly discovered evidence in the form of recanted testimony of a witness. He contends that the post-conviction court erred in its summary dismissal because due process requires that he be afforded a hearing. Following review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/15
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Anderson
E2014-00661-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Frederick Anderson, was convicted of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping; three counts of aggravated robbery; one count of aggravated burglary; two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; and one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. He received an effective sentence of sixty years’ incarceration. The Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial judge should have recused himself from the Defendant’s sentencing; (2) whether the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the charge of especially aggravated kidnapping as mandated by State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012); (3) whether the trial court erred by not merging the Defendant’s convictions for aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous offense; (4) whether the trial court erred in permitting the State to introduce excerpts of the jailhouse phone calls between the Defendant and his wife; (5) whether the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant to an effective sixty years’ incarceration; and (6) whether the cumulative effect of the errors deprived the Defendant of a fair trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/15
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Anderson - concurring
E2014-00661-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Frederick Anderson, was convicted of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping; three counts of aggravated robbery; one count of aggravated burglary; two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; and one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. He received an effective sentence of sixty years’ incarceration. The Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial judge should have recused himself from the Defendant’s sentencing; (2) whether the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the charge of especially aggravated kidnapping as mandated by State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012); (3) whether the trial court erred by not merging the Defendant’s convictions for aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous offense; (4) whether the trial court erred in permitting the State to introduce excerpts of the jailhouse phone calls between the Defendant and his wife; (5) whether the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant to an effective sixty years’ incarceration; and (6) whether the cumulative effect of the errors deprived the Defendant of a fair trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/15
Joann Luna v. White County, Tennessee, et al.
M2014-02111-COA-R3-CV

Suit against the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff of White County, as well as White County, to recover damages for Plaintiff’s asserted causes of action for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and violations of the Tennessee Constitution, arising out of her arrest and incarceration. The Defendants sought summary judgment on the grounds, inter alia, that the Governmental Tort Liability Act and public duty doctrine barred certain of the claims against the County and that the claims against the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff were barred by the Governmental Tort Liability Act and by common law qualified immunity. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the case. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Appeals 06/29/15
Michael Todd Culver v. Lisa Culver
E2014-01201-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a divorce. After 20 years of marriage, Michael Todd Culver (“Husband”) sued Lisa Culver (“Wife”) for divorce in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). After a trial, the Trial Court divided the marital estate and granted the parties a divorce. Wife appeals to this Court. We hold, inter alia, that the Trial Court did not commit reversible error in its valuation or division of the marital estate, or in declining to find Husband in contempt. We hold further that the Trial Court erred in adding $500 per month in alleged rental income to Wife’s income for child support purposes. We, therefore, reverse that portion of the Trial Court’s judgment and remand for a new calculation of child support. We affirm, in part, and, reverse, in part, the judgment of the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennesse v. Jonathan Mitchell Grimes
W2014-00786-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Jonathan Mitchell Grimes, was indicted by the Gibson County Grand Jury in count 1 for rape of a child and in count 2 for aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of thirteen. At trial, the State dismissed count 2. The jury subsequently convicted the defendant in count 1 of the lesser included offense of aggravated sexual battery, and he was sentenced to ten years at one hundred percent release eligibility. On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in allowing evidence of uncharged crimes, wrongs, or acts under Rule 403 and Rule 404(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the victim to testify after speaking with prosecutors during a break at trial; and (4) the State's bill of particulars did not provide adequate notice to him of the time frame for the charged offense, and there was a fatal variance between the bill of particulars and the evidence presented at trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of conviction, vacate the judgment forms in counts 1 and 2, and remand the case for entry of correct judgment forms.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennesse v. Jonathan Mitchell Grimes-Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2014-00786-CCA-R3-CD

I concur with the majority with respect to its resolution of all issues in this case except issue two, which challenged the trial court's admission of evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts that occurred in Milan, Tennessee. In my view, the admission of this evidence amounted to plain error. For the reasons that follow, I would have reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
Earl David Crawford v. James Holloway, Warden
W2014-02500-CCA-R3-HC

In 1986, the Petitioner, Earl David Crawford, was convicted of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery, and he received two life sentences plus thirty-five years. In 1987, this Court affirmed the trial court's judgments on direct appeal. State v. Earl David Crawford, CCA No. 258, 1987 WL 19611, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Nov. 10, 1987), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 14, 1988). In 2014, the Petitioner filed a petition, his second, for a writ of habeas corpus, in which he alleged that his judgments of conviction were void because the trial court erred when it considered his "status as a parolee" to enhance his sentence. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the Petitioner's petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Roger Gordon Brookman, Jr.
M2014-00745-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Roger Gordon Brookman, Jr., filed a motion in the Davidson County Criminal Court, seeking expunction of dismissed charges. The trial court denied the motion, and the appellant appeals. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for expunction of the charges.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Joshua L. Carter and Adonis Lashawn McLemore
M2014-00767-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant Joshua L. Carter was convicted in case 2011-B-1648 of the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine in a drug-free zone, a Class B felony; possession with the intent to sell or deliver more than .5 grams of cocaine in a drug-free zone, a Class A felony; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and evading arrest, a Class A misdemeanor.  As a Range II, multiple offender, his effective sentence in case 2011-B-1648 was forty years.  Appellant Carter was convicted in case 2011-D-3013 of felony murder; attempted especially aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; and voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony that the trial court merged with the felony murder conviction.  For these offenses, appellant Carter received an effective life sentence, consecutive to his effective forty-year sentence in case 2011-B-1648.  Appellant McLemore was convicted in case 2011-D-3013 of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and facilitation of felony murder, a Class A felony.  Appellant McLemore, as a Range III, persistent offender, received an effective sentence of fifty years.  On appeal, appellant Carter argues that evidence was insufficient to support his convictions in both cases and that in case 2011-D-3013, the trial court erred under Tennessee Rule of Evidence 609 by allowing the State to impeach him with a prior conviction for selling drugs.  Appellant McLemore argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Joshua L. Carter and Adonis Lashawn McLemore - Concurring opinion
M2014-00767-CCA-R3-CD

I concur with the majority of the well-written majority opinion.  However, based upon my reading of State v. Waller, 118 S.W.3d 368 (Tenn. 2003), I reach a different conclusion  only as to the admissibility of the appellant’s 2005 conviction for selling 0.5 grams or less of a Schedule II controlled substance and its probative value for impeachment purpose.  As the Waller court observed, a prior drug conviction does “not involve dishonesty or false statement as contemplated by Rule 609.”  Id. at 371.  In concluding that “prior felony drug convictions are, at best, only slightly probative” of a defendant’s credibility, the court recognized that it had “previously rejected a per se rule that permits impeachment by any and all felony convictions.”  Id. at 373, 371.  Therefore, I conclude that appellant Carter’s prior conviction was minimally, if at all, probative as to his credibility and that the probative value did not outweigh its prejudicial effect.  As a result, I would have ruled it inadmissible.  However, I conclude that the error in admitting the conviction was harmless, as appellant Carter has not shown that the error “more probably than not affected the judgment” or resulted “in prejudice to the judicial process.”  State v. Rodriguez, 254 S.W.3d 361, 372 (Tenn. 2008).

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
In re Jacob B.
M2014-00805-COA-R3-JV

This is an appeal from the trial court’s denial of Father’s petition to modify custody. Following a one-day trial, the court found that Father had failed to demonstrate a material change in circumstance as necessary for either a change in primary residential parent or parenting time. Because we find that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding of no material change in circumstance for purposes of modification of residential parenting time, we vacate and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Jackson County Court of Appeals 06/26/15
Tonya Newcomb v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00804-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiff fell down a set of steps while entering a building owned and operated by the State of Tennessee. She filed a claim with the Claims Commission alleging that the stairs were a dangerous condition because the handrail was too low and the steps were not covered with non-skid material. At trial, Plaintiff and her daughter testified about Plaintiff’s fall and the resulting injuries. Plaintiff also introduced into evidence photographs of repairs made to the stairs after her fall. The State called two witnesses, the head facilities administrator and a member of her staff, who testified that they were responsible for the maintenance of the steps. Both testified that they did not know of any prior incidents involving the steps. In his written order, the Commissioner found that both Plaintiff and the State’s witnesses were credible; however, he dismissed Plaintiff’s case because she failed to prove that a dangerous condition existed or that, if such condition existed, the State had notice of a dangerous condition. The Commissioner also concluded that Rule 407 of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence prohibited him from considering Plaintiff’s photographs as evidence of the State’s liability. Plaintiff appealed. We affirm.

Court of Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennessee Ex Rel Landle Byrge, et al. v. Nicholas Jay Yeager
E2014-01996-COA-R3-CV

The petitioners filed this action seeking to remove the respondent from the position of county law director of Anderson County pursuant to Tennessee's ouster law, found at Tennessee Code Annotated section 8-47-101. The respondent filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted after concluding that the position of county law director is not a public office subject to the ouster law. On appeal, the petitioners argue that the trial court erred in concluding that the position of county law director is not a public office. Because the county law director is subject to oversight by an advisory committee that may remove him or her at any time with the subsequent approval of the county legislature, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 06/25/15
Lawrence Freeze v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01396-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Lawrence Freeze, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The petitioner pled nolo contendere to aggravated sexual battery and rape, both Class B felonies, and received an effective sentence of ten years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the court erred in denying his petition because he was denied effective assistance of counsel, which resulted in an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel’s failure to be prepared for trial left him with no choice but to accept the agreement.  Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Fentress County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Lamar Mandell Cullom
M2014-00414-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Lamar Mandell Cullom, was convicted in Count I of the indictment of casual exchange of a controlled substance as a lesser-included offense of the indicted offense of sale of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone. He was convicted in Count II of delivery of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone.  The trial court sentenced him to consecutive terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days and fifteen years, respectively. Appellant now challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and testimony of a law enforcement officer that allegedly implied that appellant had a prior criminal history. Following our review, we affirm appellant’s convictions.  However, we remand for entry of a single judgment form indicating merger of the convictions.  The judgment form should reflect that appellant is a Range II, multiple offender and that the mandatory minimum period of incarceration for appellant’s range is twelve years.  The judgment form should also note that the “conviction offense name” is “violation – drug-free zone,” not “violation – drug-free school zone.”

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy S. Moore
M2014-02181-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jeremy S. Moore, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation for his convictions for two counts of aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000 and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective six-year sentence in confinement.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Terrence Justin Feaster
E2012-02636-SC-R11-CD

The defendant was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. After determining that the separate convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault did not violate double jeopardy, the trial court imposed consecutive sentences totaling twenty-six years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. A divided panel of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, finding no double jeopardy violation. This Court granted the defendant’s application for permission to appeal to determine whether due process safeguards prohibit the retroactive application of the double jeopardy standard adopted in State v. Watkins, 362 S.W.3d 530 (Tenn. 2012), which was decided after the date of his offenses. The defendant argues that the former double jeopardy standard set out in State v. Denton, 938 S.W.2d 373 (Tenn. 1996), should apply. Because our ruling in Watkins cannot be classified as “unexpected” or “indefensible” by reference to prior law, due process does not preclude its retroactive application. The judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.

Knox County Supreme Court 06/25/15
In re Conservatorship For Mary N. Ayers
M2014-01522-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a conservatorship proceeding in the Putnam County Probate Court.  The trial court appointed co-conservators over the Respondent’s property and person.  We vacate the trial court’s final order and remand for the entry of an order that complies with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01.

Putnam County Court of Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Jerald Jefferson
W2014-00784-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Jerald Jefferson, was convicted of aggravated rape and sentenced to confinement for twenty-five years. On appeal, he argues that this court should utilize a plain error review to consider his claims that the trial court erred in its jury instructions regarding eyewitness testimony and admission by silence, that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct in its closing argument, and that the aggregate effect of trial errors entitles him to a new trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Scott Lee
W2014-00986-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Scott Lee, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree murder in the perpetration of attempted robbery; two counts of attempted second degree murder, Class B felonies; aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; employing a firearm during the commission of a felony, a Class C felony; and felon in possession of a firearm, a Class E felony. He was sentenced to an effective term of life plus forty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues: (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion in limine to keep his prior convictions listed in Count 6 of the indictment from being heard and seen by the jury, and (2) that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Scott Lee-Concurring
W2014-00986-CCA-R3-CD

I respectfully agree with the conclusion reached by the majority in this case. Certainly, the better practice in all convicted felon in possession of a handgun cases is to have a pre-trial written stipulation agreeing that at the time of the offense the defendant had been previously convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. However, I write separately to emphasize that a formal stipulation to a defendant’s status as a convicted felon is not necessary to establish the predicate felony.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15