Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/17/2014
Format: 04/17/2014
Randall Turner v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01515-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Randall Turner, filed a petition in the Hamilton County Criminal Court, seeking post-conviction relief. The trial court denied the petition because it was untimely. On appeal, the petitioner challenges the trial court’s ruling. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Glenn Lemual Stepp
E2013-01291-CCA-R3-CD

A Jefferson County Circuit Court Jury found the appellant, Glenn Lemual Stepp, guilty of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony, and in violation of an order of protection, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-five years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his attempted first degree murder conviction, contending that the State failed to prove premeditation. The appellant also complains about the twenty-five-year sentence imposed by the trial court. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/14
David DeGalliford v. United Cabinet Company, LLC et al.
M2013-00943-WC-R3-WC

In early 2012, an employee alleged that he suffered a gradual injury to his cervical spine due to strenuous repetitive tasks and heavy lifting required by his employment. He reported the injury to his employer, who denied the claim on the basis that the injury was not compensable under Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-102(12)(C)(ii) (Supp. 2011). This statute, which applies to injuries occurring after July 1, 2011, provides that “cumulative trauma conditions” do not include injuries resulting from repetitive work activities “unless such conditions arose primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment.” The employee’s treating physician testified that the employee’s repetitive tasks at work were the primary cause of his injury. Another doctor, however, who examined the employee’s medical records on behalf of his employer, testified that the employee’s injury was caused by a degenerative disc disease common in the aging process. The trial court ruled for the employee, and the employer appealed. In accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, 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. We hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it relied on the testimony of the employee’s treating physician, who testified that the employee’s work activities were the primary cause of the employee’s injuries. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 03/17/14
John Jay Hooker et al. v. Governor Bill Haslam et al.
M2012-01299-SC-R11-CV

We granted permission to appeal to determine whether certain provisions of the Tennessee Plan, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 17-4-101 through 17-4-109 (2009), which governs the way in which Tennessee appellate judges are initially selected and thereafter stand for reelection, violate the Tennessee Constitution. We hold that the issue of the constitutional validity of the Judicial Nominating Commission/gubernatorial appointment process under the Tennessee Plan is moot, and we decline to rule on this issue. We further hold that the retention election portion of the Tennessee Plan satisfies the constitutional requirement that the judges of the appellate courts be elected by the qualified voters of the State and does not violate the Tennessee Constitution. We likewise hold that the election of judges to the Tennessee Court of Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee on a statewide basis does not violate the Tennessee Constitution. Accordingly, the portion of the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the issue of the constitutional validity of the Judicial Nominating Commission/gubernatorial appointment process under the Tennessee Plan is vacated and that claim is dismissed. We affirm the portions of the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the constitutional validity of the retention election portion of the Tennessee Plan and the constitutional validity of the election of Tennessee intermediate appellate court judges on a statewide basis.

Davidson County Supreme Court 03/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Brian Roberson
E2013-00376-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Brian Roberson, appeals from his jury conviction for facilitation of first-degree premeditated murder. Specifically, he contends (1) that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) that the trial court erred in allowing, over the objection of defense counsel, a witness’s preliminary hearing testimony to be admitted as substantive evidence at trial under the former testimony exception to the hearsay rule; and (3) that consecutive sentencing was improperly imposed. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/14
State of Tennessee v. James Louis Rhodes, II
M203-00622-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant was convicted of assault and child neglect, both Class A misdemeanors. He was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant argues that his sentences are excessive and that the trial court erred by denying his request for judicial diversion. After carefully reviewing the record de novo to determine if the trial court’s sentencing decisions can be upheld, we conclude that no reversible error was committed. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. James Louis Rhodes, II - Dissenting
M2013-00622-CCA-R3-CD

I respectfully dissent from the conclusion reached by the majority in this case. In my view, the trial court abused its discretion in denying judicial diversion. The only mention of judicial diversion by the trial court was after the court imposed the sentence in this case. In somewhat of an afterthought, the trial court stated, “I guess, I didn’t state it, but the application for diversion is denied.” Unlike judicial diversion cases in which this court has reversed and remanded due to the trial court’s failure to fully consider, explain or weigh the judicial diversion factors, see e.g., State v. Lewis, 978 S.W .2d 558, 567 (Tenn. Crim. App.1997); State v. Sean Nauss, No. E2011-00002-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 988139 at * 4 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar 22, 2012) (collecting cases), the trial court here failed even to consider the Defendant for judicial diversion. State v. Cutshaw, 967 S.W.2d 332, (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997) (concluding that “the trial judge abused his discretion by failing even to consider the defendant’s personal eligibility for judicial diversion”). On this meager record, the trial court’s denial of diversion cannot be cloaked with a presumption of reasonableness. Moreover, the record hardly assists this court in determining the appropriateness of the trial court’s denial of diversion as there was no proof other than the presentence report at the sentencing hearing. To uphold the denial of judicial diversion in this case would render consideration of the judicial diversion factors in all future cases a complete nullity. Accordingly, I would reverse the trial court’s denial of judicial diversion and remand the case for a new sentencing hearing.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Zachary Ross Henderson
M2013-01539-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Zachary Ross Hendrixson, pled guilty to theft of property valued over $10,000, and the trial court sentenced him, as a Range II offender, to serve a six-year sentence consecutive to a ten-year sentence he was required to serve in Dekalb County. The trial court suspended the Defendant’s sentence, ordering that the Defendant serve six years on probation after his release from Dekalb County. The trial court held a hearing on restitution, after which it ordered the Defendant to pay $60,000, at a rate of $833.33 per month after he was released from prison. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it set the amount of his restitution because the amount is not reasonable. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that no error exists. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
Anthony Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00826-CCA-R3-PC

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Anthony Williams, of first degree premeditated murder, aggravated assault, and felony reckless endangerment. The trial court ordered a total effective sentence of life imprisonment plus six years. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Anthony Williams, No. M2007-01385-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 564231 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Mar. 5, 2009) perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 17, 2009). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Hank Wise
M2012-02520-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Hank Wise, was indicted on one count of premeditated first degree murder for the death of the victim, Benjamin Goeser. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202. Following a bench trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210. The trial court subsequently sentenced the Defendant to twenty-three years for the offense. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred by failing to find him not guilty by reason of insanity; and (2) that the trial court erred by imposing an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
Kathryne B.F. v. Michael B.
W2013-01757-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce case, Mother/Appellant appeals the trial court’s grant of Father/Appellee’s motion for involuntary dismissal of her petition to be named the primary residential parent of the parties’ child. Implicitly finding that there has not been a material change in circumstances since the entry of the last custodial order, the trial court granted Father’s Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02(2) motion to dismiss Mother’s petition. The trial court also denied Father’s request for attorney’s fees under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-5-103(c). Because the trial court’s order does not comply with Rule 41.02(2) in that it neither finds the facts specially upon which the court based its determination that there has been no material change in circumstances, nor indicates the court’s reason(s) for denial of Father’s request for attorney’s fees, we are unable to conduct a meaningful review. Vacated and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/13/14
Kathryne B. F. v. Michael B. - Separate Concurrence
W2013-01757-COA-R3-CV

I fully concur in the majority’s decision to remand the case to the trial court for it to make findings of fact and conclusions of law that are sufficient to enable this Court to review the matter on appeal. I write separately only to comment on some points that we can glean from the appellate record about the trial court’s reasoning.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/13/14
Charles Damien Darden v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01328-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Charles Damien Darden, appeals the Robertson County Circuit Court’s denial of his “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in Alternative Petition for Post-Conviction Relief in Alternative Petition[] for Writ of Error Coram Nobis” requesting relief from his 1996 conviction for felony murder and his resulting life sentence. The Petitioner contends that his life sentence violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution as discussed in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. —, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012). We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
Akil Jahi a.k.a. Preston Carter v. State of Tennessee
W2011-02669-CCA-R3-PD

The Petitioner, Akil Jahi a.k.a. Preston Carter, appeals the trial court’s denial of post-conviction relief regarding his convictions for two counts of felony murder and sentences of death. The Petitioner contends that (1) he is intellectually disabled and, ineligible for the death penalty; (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at both his original trial and resentencing hearing; (3) the death penalty is unconstitutional; and (4) the cumulative effect of all errors warrants relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Mario Johnson
W2013-01124-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Mario Johnson, was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor reckless endangerment. All verdicts were merged into a single conviction for aggravated assault, and the Defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that an instruction on self-defense, which he requested, should have been included in the final charge to the jury. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Deon'dre Jones
W2013-00347-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Christopher Deon’Dre Jones, was charged in a four-count indictment returned by the Madison County Grand Jury with aggravated burglary, assault, evading arrest, and vandalism. Following a trial, the jury acquitted Defendant of aggravated burglary and assault, but found him guilty as charged of misdemeanor evading arrest and misdemeanor vandalism. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of 11 months and 29 days of incarceration in the county jail for each conviction. In his sole issue on appeal, Defendant asserts that the evidence was legally insufficient to support his conviction of the offense of evading arrest. Defendant assigns no error to his conviction of vandalism. After a thorough review of the briefs and the record we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
Mary Ann Pereira Brown v. Dwain Allen Brown
M2012-02084-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves the grant of a Rule 60.02 motion to modify a default divorce decree entered nearly eight years prior. The husband filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion seeking relief from the parties’ divorce decree; he argued primarily that the provision pertaining to his retirement benefits was inequitable. The trial court initially denied the motion, and the husband filed a timely notice of appeal. Almost two years later, the husband voluntarily dismissed his appeal. The trial court then entered an order setting aside its prior denial of the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion, held an evidentiary hearing on the motion, and eventually entered an order granting the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion. The wife now appeals. We hold that the effect of the dismissal of the earlier appeal was to affirm the trial court’s denial of the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion, so the trial court was precluded under the law of the case doctrine from reconsidering its earlier denial of the Rule 60.02 motion. Consequently, we vacate the trial court’s order setting aside its prior denial of the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion, as well as the order granting the husband the relief requested.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 03/13/14
Torrance Randle v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01497-COA-R3-CV

Civil Service Employee filed a grievance with the Civil Service Commission complaining he was not given supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the job description that was posted when he accepted the position. The administrative law judge dismissed Employee’s grievance because it was a “non-grievable matter” as that term is defined in the rules promulgated by the Department of Human Resources, leaving the Civil Service Commission without subject matter jurisdiction. Employee petitioned the Chancery Court for judicial review. The Chancery Court affirmed the administrative law judge’s dismissal of Employee’s grievance. Employee appealed the trial court’s judgment to the Court of Appeals, and we affirm the dismissal of Employee’s petition

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Mechelle L. Montgomery
M2013-01149-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellee, Mechelle L. Montgomery, was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant and for violation of the open container law. See T.C.A. §§ 55-10-401, -416. She filed a motion to suppress, alleging, inter alia, that she was unreasonably seized and that her arrest lacked probable cause. After a bifurcated hearing on the motion, the trial court took the matter under advisement and requested further briefing from the parties. The trial court subsequently entered a written order granting Montgomery’s motion to suppress. The State appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that the investigatory detention of Montgomery was unlawful. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Mechelle L. Montgomery - Dissenting
M2013-01149-CCA-R3-CD

I respectfully dissent. There appears to be little dispute about the facts of this case. In my opinion, the totality of the circumstances based on these facts demonstrate that the actions of Deputy Reiman were within the bounds of constitutional reasonableness. Unlike the officer in State v. Moats, 403 S.W.3d 170 (Tenn. 2013), Deputy Reiman was careful to pull beside the Defendant’s vehicle in the church parking lot and to not activate his blue lights when he pulled into the church parking lot. As a result, no seizure took place at this point.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Bernabe Rodriguez
M2012-01041-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Bernabe Rodriguez, has appealed the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to sever the counts in his indictment. The Defendant filed a motion to sever, and the trial court denied the motion. The appellate record, however, does not contain a transcript of the hearing on the Defendant’s motion to sever. Our review of the record reveals that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/12/14
Donna Faye Thompson v. Kim Kail
W2013-01049-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from the trial court’s grant of a motion to dismiss. The complaint alleged that the defendant circuit court clerk failed to timely send to the appellate court a case file in a matter other than the case that was on appeal. The defendant court clerk filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim; the trial court granted the motion. The plaintiff appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Crockett County Court of Appeals 03/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Sarah Rebekah Hodges
E2013-00553-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Sarah Rebekah Hodges, appeals from her Washington County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions of eight counts of forgery, one count of theft of property valued at more than $10,000 but less than $60,000, and one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, claiming that the trial court erred by denying her bid for judicial diversion and by denying full probation. We discern no error in the trial court’s denial of judicial diversion and full probation, but we observe plain error in seven of the defendant’s judgments for forgery. In case number 37513, the trial court attempted to memorialize the defendant’s guilty pleas and the accompanying sentences for all seven counts of forgery contained in the indictment within a single judgment form. Because a separate judgment form is required for each conviction, case number 37513 is remanded to the trial court for entry of a separate judgment form for each conviction of forgery.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph E. Rainey
M2012-02408-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the defendant of two counts of the delivery of dihydrocodeinone, a Class D felony, and one count of the casual exchange of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-17-417 and -418 (2009). The trial court sentenced the defendant to three years of probation for each conviction for delivery of dihydrocodeinone and to eleven months and twenty-nine days of probation for the marijuana conviction, with all the sentences to be served concurrently. The defendant hired a new attorney to file his motion for a new trial, and his new attorney challenged the trial court’s denial of a continuance prior to trial. New counsel also asserted that the defendant had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied the motion for a new trial. We discern no error and accordingly affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Perry County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/11/14
State of Tennessee v. Ricky J. Jones and Shane Eugene McClanahan
M2013-01174-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellee, Shane Eugene McClanahan, was indicted in Case No. 2012-CR-150 for possession of not less than one-half ounce nor more than ten pounds of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, driving while under the influence of marijuana while accompanied by a child under thirteen years of age, and possession of drug paraphernalia. McClanahan was later indicted in Case No. 2012-CR-193 for driving a motor vehicle on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license and driving a motor vehicle on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license, second or subsequent offense. McClanahan’s charges stemmed from evidence obtained during a warrantless search of his vehicle. In a separate case, the Defendant-Appellee, Ricky J. Jones, was indicted in Case No. 2012-CR-147 for the manufacture of marijuana consisting of not less than 100 marijuana plants nor more than 499 marijuana plants, possession of not less than ten pounds, one gram nor more than seventy pounds of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Jones was later indicted in Case No. 2012-CR-268 for money laundering. Jones’s charges stemmed from evidence obtained pursuant to a warrant that substantially relied on the evidence recovered during the warrantless search of McClanahan’s vehicle. McClanahan and Jones filed motions to suppress the physical evidence recovered in their cases. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted McClanahan’s and Jones’s motions to suppress and dismissed their indictments. In this appeal as of right, the State argues that the trial court erred in granting McClanahan’s suppression motions and in dismissing his cases. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments

Smith County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/11/14