Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 08/28/2014
Format: 08/28/2014
Lisa Doyle v. Town of Oakland
W2013-02078-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a dismissal for improper service of process. The plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant municipality. The summons and complaint were served on the municipality’s finance director. In its answer, the municipality asserted improper service of process for failure to serve either the municipality’s chief executive or its city attorney. Later, the municipality filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion asserted that, because service of process was insufficient under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 4.04, the complaint was time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the municipality. The plaintiff appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Fayette County Court of Appeals 07/28/14
Teddy Wayne Wilcutt v. CAM Electric Systems, et al.
W2013-00772-WC-R3-WC

An employee sustained work-related injuries to his head, neck, and shoulders after being struck by a falling ladder. The trial court awarded the employee 60% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer appealed, arguing that the employee failed to prove causation. After carefully reviewing the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 07/28/14
Cedric Dickerson v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01766-CCA-R3-PC

Cedric Dickerson (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to life without the possibility of parole for his first degree felony murder conviction and eleven years for his aggravated robbery conviction and ordered the sentences to run concurrently. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court’s judgments. See State v. Cedric Dickerson, No. 02C01-9802-CR-00051, 1999 WL 74213, at *4 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 17, 1999). The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following a post-conviction hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that “the Eighth Amendment should prohibit life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders.” Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s decision denying relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
Jonathan Everett v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02033-CCA-R3-PC

A Shelby County jury convicted Petitioner, Jonathan Everett, of one count of second degree murder, one count of attempted voluntary manslaughter, and one count of reckless endangerment. He received an effective sentence of twenty-nine years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days for those offenses. This court affirmed the verdict and sentence on direct appeal. See State v. Jonathan Everett, W2008-01578-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 1304893 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Jackson, Apr. 4, 2011). Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on direct appeal. The Post-Conviction Court denied his petition. We affirm the decision of the Post-Conviction Court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan L. Henderson
W2013-01247-CCA-R3-CD

A Madison County Jury convicted Defendant, Jonathan Henderson, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. He received concurrent sentences of twenty-five years for the rape conviction and ten years for aggravated sexual battery. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) that the proof at trial did not establish venue; and (3) that his sentence was excessive. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Jedarrius Isabell
W2013-00435-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Jedarrius Isabell, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony; aggravated assault, a Class C felony; three counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, Class E felonies; and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to an effective term of twenty-six years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the jury was exposed to extraneous prejudicial information and outside influence; (2) the trial court improperly communicated with a deliberating jury outside the presence of the defendant and counsel; (3) the failure to name the predicate felony in the indictment for employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony voids the conviction; (4) felony reckless endangerment is not a lesser-included offense of aggravated assault as charged in Counts 3 and 4 of the indictment; (5) double jeopardy bars his convictions for felony reckless endangerment in Counts 3, 4, and 5; (6) the trial court erred in failing to define “recklessly” in its jury instructions; and (7) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Lavelle Mangrum
W2013-00853-CCA-R3-CD

Lavelle Mangrum (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of second degree murder. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty-four years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that the trial court erred in allowing testimony that the Defendant was gang affiliated, and that the trial court erred in allowing testimony that a witness was attacked shortly after giving a statement to police. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Charles Sharp
W2013-00330-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Charles Sharp, was originally indicted for one count of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, four counts of rape, one count of sexual battery by an authority figure, one count of statutory rape, and one count of vandalism under $500. Defendant was acquitted of all charges except especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, on which the jury was hung. See State v. Sharp, 327 S.W.3d 704, 708 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2010). Defendant was tried again on the charge of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and convicted. Id. This court reversed Defendant’s conviction and remanded for a new trial based on the State’s having read a witness’s testimony from a prior trial into evidence without having shown the witness’s unavailability. Id. at 709-712. Defendant was tried twice more on the charge of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and the juries were unable to reach a verdict. In the case sub judice, Defendant was tried and convicted again on the same charge and sentenced to 12 years of incarceration. Defendant now appeals his conviction and sentence and asserts the following: 1) the trial court erred by not dismissing the indictment pursuant to our supreme court’s holding in State v. Witt, 572 S.W.2d 913, 917 (Tenn. 1978); 2) the trial court erred by allowing into evidence testimony of prior bad acts; and 3) the trial court’s imposition of a 12-year sentence was presumptively vindictive. After a careful review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm Defendant’s conviction; however, we conclude that Defendant’s sentence violates Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S. Ct. 2531, 159 L. Ed. 2d 403 (2004), and therefore, we modify Defendant’s sentence from twelve years to ten years.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Davarius Datron Smith
W2013-01735-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Davarius Datron Smith, was convicted of two counts of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony; and reckless endangerment, a Class E felony. He was sentenced by the trial court to an effective eighteen-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues that he was entitled to a mistrial because the State failed to produce notes taken by an investigator, made improper closing arguments, and asked leading questions of its witnesses; the trial court failed to instruct the jury regarding the State’s duty to preserve evidence and of a lesser-included offense of the indicted charges; and the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/14
In Re: Adoption of Joshua M. M. and Zachary M.
M2013-02513-COA-R3-PT

The appeal involves a petition for termination of parental rights and adoption. The children at issue were removed from their parents’ Wisconsin home in 2005 based on abuse and neglect. Since 2006, the children have been living with the petitioners, the paternal aunt and her husband. The petitioners filed the instant petition in Tennessee to terminate the parental rights of both the mother and the father and to adopt the children. After a trial, the trial court held that the petitioners had established three grounds for termination: (1) abandonment for failure to visit, (2) abandonment for failure to support, and (3) persistent conditions. It also found that termination of parental rights would be in the children’s best interest, and so terminated the parental rights of both biological parents. The parents now appeal. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 07/28/14
In Re: Adoption of Joshua M. M. and Zachary M. - Separate Concurrence
M2013-02513-COA-R3-PT

In concur fully in the termination of the parents’ parental rights on the ground of persistent conditions. I write separately to state my disagreement with the majority’s conclusion that consideration of the remaining termination grounds–abandonment by willful failure to visit and abandonment by willful failure to support–is somehow rendered unnecessary in light of the parents’ ostensible failure to challenge the finding of persistent conditions.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 07/28/14
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TIMOTHY HOWARD CUNNINGHAM
M2013-2844-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Timothy Howard Cunningham, of reckless endangerment by use of a deadly weapon, namely a motor vehicle. The trial court sentenced him to four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/14
Ronald Terry v. Tennessee Dept. of Corrections et al.
M2013-02206-COA-R3-CV

An inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction filed this petition for common law writ of certiorari challenging his placement in involuntary administrative segregation.He contends his placement in administrative segregation is punitive,and violates his constitutional due process rights as well as Department rules. The respondents assert that his placement in administrative segregation was non-punitive because it was necessary for the safety of staff and other inmates; respondents also assert that a writ of certiorari is not the appropriate means to challenge a non-punitive action. Following a review of the record, the trial court dismissed the petition. Finding no error in the trial court’s determination that the inmate’s placement was non-punitive and that, as such, the common law writ of certiorari was not the proper means of challenging his status, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/25/14
Town of Crossville Housing Authority v. John A. Murphy, Et Al.
M2013-02576-COA-R3-CV

The buyers of an apartment complex brought this action against the sellers for breach of contractand intentionalmisrepresentationafterdiscoveringthatseveralrepresentations made by the sellers in the transactional documents were false. The buyers challenge the propriety of the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants. After review, we conclude that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff’s breach of contract claims, and that Paul Murphy and John Murphy are entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff’s intentional misrepresentation claims. As to the remainder of the defendants, we conclude that summary judgment on the plaintiff’s intentional misrepresentation claims was improper because theydid not meet their initial burden of production on summaryjudgment. We affirm in part and reverse in part the trial court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings.

 

Fentress County Court of Appeals 07/25/14
Barry Craig Taylor v. Sarah Ann McClintock
M2013-02293-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a Tennessee court’s jurisdiction to modify a parenting order entered by a court in another state. The parties were divorced in Florida, and the Florida court designated the mother as the primary residential parent of the parties’ only child. Soon thereafter, the father moved to Tennessee. Years later, after many parenting disputes, the Florida court entered an order granting the father “make-up” parenting time by allowing the child to live in Tennessee with the father for a defined period of time that exceeded six months. At the same time, the Florida court granted the mother permission to relocate to Alabama. After the child had lived with the father in Tennessee for over six months in accordance with the Florida order, the father filed a petition in the Tennessee trial court below, seeking to modify the Florida parenting plan to designate him as the primary residential parent. The trial court held that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to modify the Florida parenting order under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.  The father now appeals. We reverse the Tennessee trial court’s holding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the father’s Tennessee custodypetition, and remand for further proceedings.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 07/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Lee Driskell
E2013-01783-CCA-R3-CD

Robert Lee Driskill (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and one count of violating the implied consent law. Pursuant to the Defendant’s plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days’ incarceration, to be suspended on supervised probation after the service of forty-eight hours’ confinement. In conjunction with his guilty plea, the Defendant reserved the following certified question of law: “Whether the officer’s conduct violated the Defendant’s rights under Article I, Section 7 or the Fourth Amendment when the officer through activating blue lights caused the Defendant to stop his moving vehicle and encounter the officer.” Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we hold that the Defendant is entitled to no relief. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
Danny Lee Greene v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01583-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Danny Lee Greene, appeals the Washington County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2007 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence as a violent offender. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying him relief because (1) juror bias existed and (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
MYRON L. JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
M2013-02314-CCA-R3-HC

The Appellant, Myron L. Johnson, appeals the trial court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
 

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
Bryant Jennings v. City of Memphis
W2013-02570-COA-R3-CV

This case involves the eligibility of a Memphis police officer for automatic promotion to thirty-year Captain. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the officer. However, because the officer was a temporary employee prior to the cut-off date set forth in the automatic promotion provision, we find that he is not entitled to automatic promotion. We reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the officer and we grant summary judgment in favor of the City of Memphis. The case is remanded for further proceedings, as may be necessary, consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/24/14
KENNETH DEWAYNE JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
M2013-02491-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Kenneth Dewayne Johnson, pled guilty to aggravated assault in Davidson County on November 17, 2011.  On June 10, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the foreman of the grand jury that issued the indictment was ineligible to serve for being a convicted felon.  Petitioner also asserted that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and entered an unknowing and involuntary plea.  The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as untimely.  On August 16, 2013, Petitioner, with the assistance of counsel, filed a second petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the statute of limitations should be tolled in his case because the ineligibility of the grand jury foreman was not made public knowledge until after the statute of limitations had expired and was, therefore, a “later-arising” ground for relief.  The post-conviction court dismissed the petition, finding that the ineligibility of the grand jury foreman did not divest the trial court of jurisdiction and that Petitioner was not denied effective assistance of counsel.  Petitioner appealed.  Upon a thorough review of the law and the facts in this case, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/14
Linda Laseter v. J. Martin Regan, Jr.
W2013-02105-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a defendant’s attempts to discover certain financial information from the plaintiff’s medical expert in order to facilitate an inquiry into potential bias. The trial court entered several orders requiring the expert witness to provide the requested financial information, which related to his income and compensation, but the expert witness repeatedly failed to comply with the trial court’s orders. The trial court also ruled that the defendant would be permitted to question the expert witness about certain financial information during cross-examination at trial, and the expert witness communicated to the trial judge that he would refuse to answer any such questions. The trial court eventually excluded the medical expert as a witness and allowed the plaintiff time to find a replacement expert. When the plaintiff failed to identify another expert witness within the time allowed, the trial court dismissed the complaint. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/24/14
In Re Adelyn B.
W2013-02374-COA-R3-JV

This case arises out of the Mother’s request to relocate with the parties’ minor child. The trial court determined it was in the best interest of the child to remain in Tennessee with Father pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-108(c). We affirm the trial court’s best interest finding, and remand for entry of a permanent parenting plan naming Father the child’s primary residential parent and setting a parenting schedule taking into account Mother’s move.

Benton County Court of Appeals 07/24/14
Jane Field v. The Ladies' Hermitage Association
M2013-02635-COA-R3-CV

This is the third round in a battle between these parties over the terms of a deed requiring certain payments to the heirs of the grantor. The property at issue is the historic Tulip Grove Mansion near The Hermitage, in Nashville, Tennessee. The deed conveying Tulip Grove to the Ladies’ Hermitage Association required payments to the heirs of the grantor of one-third “of all gate receipts received by [the LHA] from visitors to Tulip Grove House[.]” In a prior appeal, we held that “the term ‘gate receipts’ in the deed includes the rent paid to LHA for use of the property for special events.” The parties now dispute whether the LHA can deduct expenses from the special event rental fees prior to calculating the heirs’ one-third share. The chancellor held that such a deduction is permissible. We hold that it is not. We therefore reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/24/14
State of Tennessee v. Jawaune Massey
E2013-01047-CCA-R3-CD

Jawaune Massey (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of first degree felony murder as to victim Nolan; one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of first degree felony murder as to victim Alexander; one count of especially aggravated robbery; one count of criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery; one count of criminal conspiracy to possess more than 26 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver; one count of possessing more than 26 grams of cocaine for resale; and one count of maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used or sold. For these crimes, the Defendant was sentenced to serve an effective term of two consecutive life sentences. In these consolidated appeals, the Defendant contends that the evidence was not sufficient to support his convictions. He also contends that the trial court (1) erred in consolidating offenses; (2) should have conducted a hearing to determine if a “stun belt” was a necessary restraint of the Defendant during trial; (3) should have instructed the jury that several witnesses were accomplices as a matter of law; and (4) should not have run his life sentences consecutively. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we reverse on grounds of insufficient evidence the Defendant’s conviction of criminal conspiracy to possess more than 26 grams of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver and his conviction of maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used or sold. We affirm the remaining judgments.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/14
STEVEN JAMES MCCAIN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
M2013-00992-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Steven James McCain, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 1998 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, claiming that the State withheld material evidence at trial and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/14