Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 08/28/2015
Format: 08/28/2015
Yarboro Sallee v. Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility
E2014-01062-SC-R3-BP

In this appeal from attorney disciplinary proceedings, the hearing panel of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility suspended the law license of the appellant attorney for one year. The hearing panel determined that the attorney violated Rules 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 4.4, and 8.4 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct. Its decision was based on, inter alia, the attorney’s failure to communicate with the client, excessive fees, withholding items from the client’s files after termination of her representation, and sending the clients’ new attorney emails threatening criminal prosecution of the former clients. The attorney sought judicial review of the hearing panel’s decision, and the trial court affirmed the decision of the hearing panel. The attorney now appeals to this Court. After a careful review of the record, we affirm. 

Knox County Supreme Court 07/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Anthony James Zonneville
M2014-00749-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant claims the evidence was not sufficient for the jury to convict him of possession of .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine with intent to sell or deliver within 1,000 feet of a school.  He also claims the trial court as the thirteenth juror erred in not granting his motion for new trial.  After a thorough review of the record, we conclude the evidence was sufficient and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Marika Lyn Foster
M2014-01923-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Marika Lyn Foster, appeals the trial court’s order requiring her to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement after the revocation of her probation.  She argues that the trial court abused its discretion by not extending the length and modifying the conditions of her probation.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Russell Lee Maze
M2014-02338-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, Russell Lee Maze, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “Motion for Order Correcting Error in Judgment.”  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Corey Euene Huddleston
M2014-02543-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Corey Eugene Huddleston, pleaded guilty to escape, a Class E felony, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years, suspended to supervised probation.  This conviction was ordered to run consecutively to the sentence the Defendant was serving at the time of his escape from the Dickson County Jail.  A violation of probation warrant was issued for the Defendant’s arrest based upon multiple violations of probation rules.  After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation sentence and ordered service of the balance of the sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals, contending that the trial court’s decision to fully revoke his probation sentence was arbitrary.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
Barbara A. Miller v. Myron B. McClary, II
E2015-01027-COA-R3-CV

The final order from which the pro se appellant seeks to appeal was entered on April 20, 2015. The Notice of Appeal was not filed until May 22, 2015, more than thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the final order. The appellees have filed a joint motion to dismiss this appeal based upon the untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal. Because the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal and grant the motion to dismiss.

Blount County Court of Appeals 07/22/15
Stacy Foster-Henderson v. Memphis Health Center, Inc.
W2013-02834-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a contract for employment entitling the employee to sixty days advance notice of the employer’s decision to terminate the contract and six months additional salary from the date of the termination. The employer argued that the termination was effective in May 2005 and, therefore, that the employee had been fully compensated pursuant to the contract. The trial court ruled that the termination occurred in June 2005 and awarded employee damages equivalent to two months’ salary. We conclude that the evidence preponderates in favor of finding that the employee did not receive the requisite notice of the termination of her employment until September or October 2005 at the earliest. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and award employee damages equivalent to six months’ salary, as well as partial prejudgment interest. Reversed and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/22/15
Ede Goza, et al. v. Suntrust Bank
W2014-00635-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the dismissal of an action challenging the validity of and distribution of assets from a trust. The trial court held the suit was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Because the plaintiffs in this action are in privity with previous challengers of the trust for purposes of res judicata, we affirm the dismissal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/22/15
Samantha Adkins v. Studsvik, Inc.. et al.
E2014-00444-SC-R3-WC

This action involves a dispute regarding workers’ compensation benefits. In July 2009, the plaintiff employee fell from a ladder in the course of her employment. Her employer initially provided medical care but denied that the employee sustained a compensable injury or permanent impairment. The employee filed this action on October 9, 2013. Upon a trial on the merits, the trial court found that (1) the employee did sustain a compensable, work-related injury and (2) the employee was permanently and totally disabled. The employer has appealed that ruling. On appeal, the employee also contends that the trial court erred by failing to award her the cost of unauthorized medical treatment. 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. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Carter County Workers Compensation Panel 07/21/15
Susan Lee Phillips, Executrix and Surviving Spouse of Robert Wayne Phillips, Deceased v. Gary Q. Casey, M.D., et al.
E2014-01563-COA-R9-CV

This is a health care liability action. The plaintiff's late husband died following a bilateral tonsillectomy surgery. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was angioedema. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendants exactly one year after her husband's death. The complaint did not comply with the pre-suit notice requirements for health care liability suits. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the suit without prejudice and re-filed suit. The defendants moved to dismiss, claiming that the re-filed suit was barred. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and a subsequent motion to reconsider but granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. We granted permission to appeal and now affirm the decision of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 07/21/15
Haddad Family Partnership v. David Pouncey, et al.
W2014-01761-COA-R3-CV

This case involves a dispute over the boundary line between two neighboring tracts of farmland. The owner of one farm brought this action alleging that the neighbor crossed the common boundary line between the tracts and harvested or destroyed crops during three consecutive years. At trial, the parties presented conflicting surveys, each purporting to establish the correct boundary line between the properties at issue. The trial court found the appellee’s survey to be more persuasive and established the line as proposed by the appellee. The trial court also awarded damages to the appellee for the lost crops. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, we affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 07/21/15
State of Tennessee v. Tony Samuel
W2014-02085-CCA-R3-CD

The petitioner, Tony Samuel, filed an untimely notice of appeal of the trial court's denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Following our review, we conclude that the interest of justice does not warrant a waiver of the notice requirement because the petitioner failed to state a colorable claim for relief. Therefore, we dismiss this appeal as untimely.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/15
State of Tennessee v. Shon Q. Blanks
E2014-01897-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Shon Q. Blanks, appeals the Bradley County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation and the court’s imposition of incarceration instead of granting another alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/15
State of Tennessee v. David Hugh Crumley
E2013-02373-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, David Hugh Crumley, pled nolo contendere to two counts of vehicular homicide and received an effective eight-year sentence under the terms of the agreement. Thereafter, the trial court denied any form of alternative sentencing based upon the nature and circumstances of the offenses combined with the Defendant's lack of remorse and his past criminal history involving alcohol and drugs. The Defendant appeals, arguing that he is a suitable candidate for alternative sentencing pursuant to the statutory considerations outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-103(1)(A)-(C). Following our review, we discern no abuse of discretion in the trial court's alternative sentencing decision. Accordingly, the judgments are affirmed.

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/15
State of Tennessee v. Rafael Grissom
M2014-02560-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Rafael Grissom, pled guilty to burglary, aggravated burglary, and robbery.  He was sentenced to two years for the burglary conviction, fifteen years for the aggravated burglary conviction, and fifteen years for the robbery conviction.  The trial court ordered Defendant to serve the two-year sentence in incarceration, while the fifteen-year sentences were ordered to be served on Community Corrections consecutively to the sentence for the burglary conviction but concurrently with each other.  Defendant received determinate release after serving a portion of his two-year sentence.  A violation of probation warrant and a violation of Community Corrections warrant were filed against Defendant.  After a hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve the sentences as initially imposed.  Defendant has appealed this decision.  After our review, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.  As a result, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/15
Heather Anne Gulish Gladwell v. Tony Neil Gladwell, Jr.
W2014-01095-COA-R3-CV

Husband appeals the trial court's division of property, award of rehabilitative alimony, and allocation of the federal tax deduction applicable to the parties' children in this divorce action. Wife also appeals the trial court's property division and additionally appeals its award of attorney's fees as alimony in solido to Husband. We affirm the trial court's property division, award of rehabilitative alimony to Husband, and allocation of the federal tax deduction to Wife. We reverse the award of alimony in solido to Husband. This matter is remanded to the trial court for entry of an order setting Wife's child support obligation in a definite amount as required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-101(a)(2).

Henry County Court of Appeals 07/20/15
Heather Anne Gulish Gladwell v. Tony Neil Gladwell, Jr. PARTIAL DISSENT
W2014-01095-COA-R3-CV

J. STEVEN STAFFORD, Dissenting in Part.
I concur in the majority opinion with regard to all issues save one—the reversal of the attorney fee award to Husband. On this point, I must respectfully file this partial dissent.

Henry County Court of Appeals 07/20/15
Jeffery G. Douglas v. Jackson Police Department
W2014-02076-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiff/Appellant appeals the trial court’s order dismissing his claim under the Equal Protection Clause. Appeal dismissed for failure to comply with Rule 27 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Madison County Court of Appeals 07/20/15
In re Mason M.
M2014-02569-COA-R3-PT

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights; Father surrendered his parental rights prior to trial. The trial court found that four grounds for termination of Mother’s parental rights had been established. Mother does not challenge any of the grounds for her termination; instead, she contends that the termination was not in the child’s best interests. Finding no error, we affirm.

Lawrence County Court of Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Eric James Miller
M2014-02163-CCA-R3-CD
Defendant, Eric James Miller, appeals his six-year sentence of confinement for theft of property valued over $1,000, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in denying alternative sentencing. Because the sentencing judge properly considered all sentencing factors and the purposes and principles of the sentencing statutes, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
Michael Eugene Wallace v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02148-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Michael Eugene Wallace, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Because Petitioner knew of the statute of limitations when he entered his plea and made a strategic decision not to rely on its protection, he did not receive ineffective assistance. Accordingly, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Darryl L. Bryant
E2014-01323-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Darryl L. Bryant, was indicted for one count of possession of oxycodone with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; and one count of simple possession of marijuana. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-417, -418. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of facilitation of possession of oxycodone with intent to sell, a Class D felony; and acquitted of the simple possession charge. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-11-403, -17-417. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to six years as a Range II, multiple offender. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant's motion to suppress the evidence against him; (2) that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant's request for a hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978); (3) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for facilitation of possession of oxycodone with intent to sell; (4) that the trial court erred in instructing the jury; and (5) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct.1 Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Kathy L. Bartlett
M2014-01530-CCA-R3-CD

A Williamson County grand jury indicted appellee, Kathy L. Bartlett, for driving under the influence of an intoxicant.  The charge was dismissed pretrial after the trial court granted appellee’s motion to dismiss.  The State appeals the trial court’s granting of the motion and argues that the trial court misapplied the law relating to lost or destroyed evidence. Following a thorough review of the record, we reverse the ruling of the trial court, reinstate the indictment, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Damascus Willingham
W2014-01539-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Damascus Willingham, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion to review and modify his sentences. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we dismiss the appeal.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
Iris Teresa Bowling Chambers v. Faye Bowling Devore, et al.
W2013-02827-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from the denial of Appellant’s Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 motion. Appellee, Appellant’s law firm, filed an attorney’s lien against real property that was awarded to Appellant by partition in the underlying case. The trial court set the amount of the lien based on the commissioners’ valuation of the real property. Appellant disputed the amount of attorney’s fees by filing a motion to compel arbitration, in which she specifically argued that, under their contract, the parties were required to arbitrate any dispute concerning the amount of attorney’s fees. The trial court did not specifically rule on Appellant’s motion to compel arbitration, but inferentially denied the motion when it granted Appellee’s motion to sell the property to satisfy the previously granted attorney’s lien. Appellant then filed a Rule 60.02 motion for relief from the order enforcing the attorney’s lien. Her motion was denied, and she appeals. Although the attorney’s lien is valid, we conclude that the trial court erred in enforcing the lien as a judgment when there was a dispute concerning the enforceability of the parties’ contract, the amount of attorney’s fees, and the proper means of calculating those fees. Accordingly, we vacate the order enforcing the attorney’s lien in the amount awarded and remand the case for an evidentiary hearing to resolve the questions concerning the parties’ contract and to determine the proper amount of attorney’s fees, which may then be enforced against the lien. Vacated and remanded.

Fayette County Court of Appeals 07/17/15