Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 09/01/2015
Format: 09/01/2015
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
Paul Stackhouse v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01328-CCA-R3-PC

A Hamblen County jury convicted the Petitioner, Paul Stackhouse, of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and the trial court sentenced him to nine years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the conviction. State v. Paul M. Stackhouse, No. E2010-01972-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 5620925, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Nov. 18, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 7, 2012). Thereafter, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, and, after a hearing, the post-conviction court issued an order denying the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and relevant law, we affirm the post-conviction court‘s judgment.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
Kathryne B.F. v. Michael David B.
W2014-01863-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from post-divorce proceedings. When the parties divorced in 2008, Mother was designated primary residential parent of the parties' one-year-old son. Mother later remarried and sought permission to relocate to Australia with the child. Following a hearing in 2011, the trial court denied Mother's request to relocate and changed the designation of primary residential parent to Father. Mother moved to Australia with her new husband. Mother instituted this proceeding in 2013, alleging that a material change in circumstance has occurred and that it is in the child's best interest to live with her in Australia. The trial court considered testimony over the course of four days and eventually dismissed Mother's petition. In a previous appeal, this Court remanded the matter for specific findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court subsequently entered a lengthy written order explaining its decision. Mother filed a second notice of appeal. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/16/15
Douglas M. Mathis v. Wayne Carpenter, Warden
M2014-01552-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner, Douglas M. Mathis, appeals the summary dismissal of his second petition for writ of habeas corpus.  In it, he repeats the claim of his first such petition, that the trial court was without jurisdiction to conduct his trial.  Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
Randy R. Moss, Jr. v. Dan P. Evans et al.
E2014-02277-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from an election contest. Randy R. Moss, Jr. (“Moss”) ran against Dan P. Evans (“Evans”) for the office of Chief Administrative Officer of the McMinn County Highway Department (“Highway Commissioner”). Evans won. Moss filed an election contest in the Chancery Court for McMinn County (“the Trial Court”) challenging Evans' statutorily required qualifications to hold the office. Moss also sued the McMinn County Election Commission and its officials (“the Election Commission,” collectively) in the same action. Evans and the Election Commission filed motions to dismiss. The Trial Court granted the motions to dismiss, holding that Moss was required to have challenged Evans' certification as a qualified candidate before the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board (“the THOCB”) and that Moss could not now challenge Evans' qualifications by an election contest. Moss filed this appeal. We affirm the Trial Court in its dismissing the complaint against the Election Commission, which acted only in a ministerial capacity. We hold, however, that the Trial Court erred in concluding that it had no jurisdiction to hear Moss's challenge to Evans' qualifications. We affirm, in part, and, reverse, in part, the judgment of the Trial Court, and remand this case to proceed against defendant Evans.

McMinn County Court of Appeals 07/16/15
Larry Todd Hoover v. Morgan Siera Hoover
E2014-01629-COA-R3-CV

This post-divorce appeal presents the issue of whether the trial court erred in its modification of the parties' permanent parenting plan. The parties were married on March 28, 2009, with one child subsequently born of the marriage. The parties were divorced by final judgment dated August 25, 2011. The trial court concomitantly entered a permanent parenting plan, naming the mother primary residential parent and granting the father co-parenting time of 105 days per year with the child. Approximately eight months later, the father filed a motion seeking modification of the parties' permanent parenting plan, alleging that he had been exercising and should have been awarded at least fifty-percent co-parenting time with the child. Following a hearing conducted on July 31, 2013, the trial court temporarily modified the co-parenting schedule to award each parent equal time with the child. The court reserved the issue of a permanent residential schedule for further hearing. At a subsequent hearing conducted on June 24, 2014, the trial court considered a modification to the permanent parenting plan due to the child's having reached kindergarten age. Upon hearing proof regarding the child's best interest, the trial court entered an order maintaining the mother's status as primary residential parent and awarding the father 105 days of co-parenting time per year. Father timely appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Appeals 07/16/15
In re Marcell W.
W2014-02120-COA-R3-CV

This appeal results from a dependency and neglect action initiated in the Shelby County Juvenile Court. The juvenile court found that the child was dependent and neglected. The juvenile court also found that the child's severe injuries constituted severe child abuse perpetrated by the child's mother. On appeal, the circuit court affirmed. Discerning no error, we also affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/16/15
In re Marcell W. Concur
W2014-02120-COA-R3-CV

I concur in the majority's conclusion that clear and convincing evidence exists to support the trial court's finding that Mother committed severe abuse. I write separately, however, to respond to the relevance of my good friend and colleague's discussion of Mother's waiver of her challenge to the Special Judge's appointment in the juvenile court. The opinion states that because Mother did not raise her objection to the appointment of the Special Judge in the juvenile court, the issue is deemed waived. In support of this position, the opinion relies, in part, on this Court's decision in State Department of Children’s Services v. A.M.H., 198 S.W.3d 757 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006). In the A.M.H. decision, this Court held that the failure to object to the appointment of a special judge results in a waiver of the issue on appeal. Id. at 764. I believe, to avoid confusion, the relevance of A.M.H. to the facts of this case requires clarification.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/16/15
Michael J. Karel, et al. v. William Steven Cummings, et al.
W2014-01063-COA-R3-CV

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 07/16/15
Deeric McAfee v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01829-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Deeric McAfee, filed in the Knox County Criminal Court a petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of second degree murder and reckless endangerment. The petitioner alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Angela Ayers
W2014-00781-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Angela Ayers, was found guilty by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of voluntary manslaughter, false report, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, Class C felonies. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-211 (2014), 39-16-502 (2014), 39-17-1324 (2010) (amended 2012). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to six years for the manslaughter conviction, which was to be suspended to probation after two years’ confinement, to four years for the false report conviction, which was to be suspended to probation after two years’ confinement, and to six years’ confinement at 100% service for the firearm conviction. The court ordered the six-year sentence for the firearm conviction to be served consecutively to the other sentences, for an effective twelveyear sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions for voluntary manslaughter and false report, (2) the indictment relative to the firearm conviction is insufficient, (3) the trial court erred by excluding proof of the victim’s abusing the Defendant and her son, (4) the trial court erred relative to expert medical testimony, and (5) the trial court erred by refusing to provide the jury with a selfdefense instruction. We affirm the judgments of the trial court relative to the voluntary manslaughter and false report convictions, but we reverse the judgment, vacate the conviction, and dismiss the charge for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Keith
E2014-00448-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Frederick Keith, was convicted in the Knox County Criminal Court of first degree felony murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by failing to grant his motion to sever his case from that of his co-defendant, and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments by vouching for the credibility of State witnesses. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties‟ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
Erica Harris v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01893-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Erica Harris, filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief from her conviction for the sale and delivery of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine. Petitioner alleges that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, she alleges that trial counsel failed to communicate to her a plea offer that had been formally made to prior counsel and that he dissuaded her from testifying on her own behalf at trial. After a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed her petition. Upon thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
Timothy John McCormick v. Stephanie Renee Crouch McCormick
M2014-00457-COA-R3-CV

Husband in divorce action appeals trial court’s division of marital property and award of alimony in futuro to Wife. We affirm the trial court’s division of marital property; we vacate the award of alimony in futuro and remand to the trial court for reconsideration.

Warren County Court of Appeals 07/16/15
In re Sonya M.
M2015-00064-COA-R3-PT

The issue in this case is whether former foster parents have standing to bring an action for termination of parental rights and adoption of children formerly in their care. We hold, as did the trial court, that former foster parents do not have standing to do so.

Dickson County Court of Appeals 07/16/15