Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/17/2014
Format: 12/17/2014
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers
W2013-00185-CCA-R3-CD

The husband-wife defendants, Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony, and attempted voluntary manslaughter, a Class D felony. Defendant Summers was also convicted of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. Defendant Jackson was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to concurrent terms of eight years for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and four years for the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction. Defendant Summers was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of three years for each of the manslaughter convictions and to six years for the firearm conviction, to be served consecutively to the three-year sentence. The defendants now appeal, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the denial of their motion to sever, and certain evidentiary rulings made by the court. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Ivy
W2013-02655-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Thomas Ivy, was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Ted H. Lowe, III et al. v. Joseph M. Brown et al.
E2013-00421-COA-R3-CV

This action arose over the unfulfilled terms of a condominium lease entered into between the defendant lessee and the lessor, whose estate initiated this action following the death of the lessor. A judgment in the amount of $16,120.36 was originally entered in favor of the estate by the Knox County General Sessions Court. The lessee appealed to the Knox County Circuit Court for a de novo proceeding, and the decedent’s personal representatives were substituted as parties for the estate. Following a non-jury trial, the circuit court entered a judgment in favor of the personal representatives in the amount of $15,882.28. The lessee appeals. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 11/10/14
Greg Willet, As Executor Of The Estate Of Walter Taeubel v. Lucy Adelaine Taeubel
E2014-00364-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a petition to terminate alimony in futuro. Several years after the parties’ divorce, former husband became completely disabled. Former husband filed a petition to terminate his alimony obligation based on a substantial and material change in circumstances. The trial court granted former husband’s petition. Former wife appeals, contending that the trial court erred in concluding former husband established a substantial and material change in circumstances. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Henry Floyd Sanders
M2011-00962-SC-R11-CD

This appeal concerns the admissibility of incriminating statements made by a defendant to the mother of a sexually abused child while the mother was secretly cooperating with the police in their investigation of the abuse. After a grand jury indicted him on six counts of aggravated sexual batteryand four counts of rape of a child, the defendant moved to suppress his recorded statements. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and a jury convicted the defendant of five counts of aggravated sexual battery and four counts of rape of a child. The trial court imposed an effective forty-year sentence. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions and sentence. State v. Sanders, No. M2011-00962-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 4841545 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 9, 2012). We granted the defendant’s Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application to address the legal standard courts should use to determine the admissibility of incriminating statements obtained by the parent of a victim of sexual abuse who is secretly cooperating with law enforcement officials investigating the child abuse charges. We find no violation of the defendant’s constitutional right against compelled selfincrimination because the defendant merely misplaced his trust in a confidante to whom he voluntarily confessed. Therefore, we find that the recording of these statements was admissible.

Davidson County Supreme Court 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Billy Dean Sizemore
M2013-01853-CCA-R3-CD

A Lewis County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Billy Dean Sizemore, of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class C felony, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range III, persistent offender to fourteen years in confinement.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; that the trial court erred by allowing evidence of a prior bad act in violation of Rule 404(a), Tennessee Rules of Evidence; that the trial court’s failure to give the jury a limiting instruction regarding the prior bad act constitutes reversible error; and that the trial court improperly relied on the presentence report showing prior convictions in Florida rather than requiring the State to produce certified copies of the judgments of conviction.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Croasmun
M2014-00243-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Brandon Croasmun, appeals from the Cannon County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion for a suspended sentence.  Because the trial court’s denial was based on its erroneous belief that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the motion, as conceded by the State, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand for a hearing.

Cannon County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Danny J. C. King
M2014-00562-CCA-R3-CD

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to affirm the judgments of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Appellant, Danny J. C. King, has appealed the Marshall County Circuit Court order denying Appellant’s request for alternative sentencing.  Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court did not err in denying alternative sentencing.  The State’s request meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Vallejo, Jr.
M2013-02028-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Daniel Vallejo, Jr., was convicted in the Williamson County Circuit Court of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; theft of property valued more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class D felony; and two counts of automobile burglary, a Class E felony.  After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective nine-year sentence.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the aggravated burglary conviction; that his statements to police were inadmissible because they were tainted by an illegal search; that his jailhouse statements to his wife were inadmissible because they were protected by marital privilege; and that evidence deemed inadmissible at trial also was inadmissible at sentencing.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Courtney Eugene Dukes
E2014-00154-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Courtney Eugene Dukes, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s revoking his probation and ordering his effective four-year sentence into execution. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/07/14
Cyntoia Denise Brown v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00825-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Cyntoia Denise Brown, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery and resulting concurrent sentences of life and eight years.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel, that she is “entitled to relief under error coram nobis,” that her mandatory life sentence is unconstitutional, and that she was denied due process.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/06/14
David Michael Williams, et al v. Timothy Wayne Smith
M2013-02606-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from an underinsured motorist coverage claim that hinges on the validity of a choice of law provision in the insurance policy. Plaintiffs were involved in a car wreck in Tennessee while driving a vehicle they borrowed from North Carolina residents.Although the borrowed vehicle was owned by North Carolina residents, the car owners had elected an insurance policy with a Missouri choice of law provision because their daughter principally used the car in Missouri where she attended college. At issue in this appeal is whether the law of Missouri or North Carolina controls.If Missouri law controls,there is no underinsured motorist coverage; if North Carolina law controls, there is coverage. The trial court found that the Missouri choice of law provision was valid and enforceable because the choice of law provision was not contrary to a fundamental policy of North Carolina. We affirm.

Putnam County Court of Appeals 11/06/14
Gregory Lee Boggs Et Al v. Dinah K. Rhea
E2013-02859-COA-R3-CV

Gregory Lee Boggs and Lisa Danielle (Pickens) Boggs (“Plaintiffs”) sued Dinah K. Rhea (“Defendant”) with regard to a motor vehicle accident that occurred in May of 2010 in Washington County, Tennessee. Defendant admitted responsibility for the accident and the case was tried before a jury solely on the issue of damages. After trial the Circuit Court for Greene County (“the Trial Court”) entered judgment on the jury’s verdict finding and holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to any damages. Plaintiffs appeal to this Court raising issues concerning the jury’s verdict, denial of their motion for additur or a new trial, and claimed improper statements by defense counsel in his closing argument. Defendant raises an issue on appeal with regard to the Trial Court’s denial of her motion for discretionary costs. We find and hold that the record on appeal contains material evidence to support the jury’s verdict and that there are no other reversible errors related to Plaintiffs’ issues. We further find and hold that Defendant is entitled to an award of discretionary costs, and we remand to the Trial Court for a determination of the appropriate amount of discretionary costs. We affirm as modified.

Greene County Court of Appeals 11/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Emonnie Dion Branch, Jr.
M2013-01843-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Emonnie Dion Branch, Jr., pled guilty in the Sumner County Criminal Court to twenty-three offenses resulting from two home invasions, two convenience store robberies, and an assault of a fellow inmate.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of one hundred and thirty years.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/06/14
Gabrielle Howell, et al v. Metropolitan Sexually Oriented Business Licensing Board
M2013-02369-COA-R3-CV

Owner of a sexually oriented nightclub filed a writ of certiorari challenging the Respondent Board’s decision to sanction the nightclub for the inappropriate behavior of an entertainer. The trial court affirmed the decision of the Board. The nightclub raises several errors on appeal. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Todd Ghormley
E2013-01932-CCA-R3-CD

In an opinion filed on January 20, 2012, this court determined that the trial court erred by failing to hold a competency hearing and remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a retrospective competency hearing. See State v. Anthony Todd Ghormley, No. E2010-00634-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, Jan. 20, 2012) (Ghormley I). Following the hearing on remand, the trial court concluded that the defendant was competent to stand trial. The defendant now appeals that decision. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Doris Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00033-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Doris Williams, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received an out-of-range sentence of thirty-five years to be served at 100%.  In her post-conviction petition, she claimed that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary.  The post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that she was heavily medicated during trial counsel’s representation of her and during her plea hearing, that trial counsel did not advise her in a manner she could comprehend due to said medication, and that she entered her guilty plea without a full understanding of the consequences.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Roy Anthony Haley
M2013-02756-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Roy Anthony Haley, appeals his Bedford County Circuit Court jury conviction of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, contending that the sentence imposed by the trial court was excessive.  We affirm the conviction and sentence but remand for correction of a clerical error in the judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Lisa Howe, et al. v. Bill Haslam - Concur
M2013-01790-COA-R3-CV

In concur in the majority’s decision to affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the claims arising from HB600’s reordering of the political process. I also join Judge McBrayer in his determination that the claim of the Gay Straight Alliance of Hume Fogg Academic Magnet High School survives dismissal on standing grounds, as the State’s Answer to the original Complaint is insufficient to determine the applicability of HB600.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/04/14
Ronnie Lee Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01198-CCA-R3-ECN

The Appellant, Ronnie Lee Johnson, appeals the trial court’s summary denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/14
Lisa Howe, et al. v. Bill Haslam - Concur in Part
M2013-01790-COA-R3-CV

I agree with Judge Farmer’s conclusion that the claims arising from HB600’s
reordering of the political process, which strips Appellants of the ability to seek antidiscrimination
protections at the local level, should be dismissed. However, because I find
the United States Supreme Court precedent in Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), difficult
to distinguish by reference to the structural barrier it imposes, I write separately. I would
instead distinguish Romer because, unlike the amendment at issue there, the burden HB600
imposes applies equally to any group seeking protected status. Therefore, Appellants have
not suffered a particularized injury sufficient to confer standing.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/04/14
Lisa Howe, et al. v. Bill Haslam
M2013-01790-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiffs allege that a 2011 act of the General Assembly adding a definition of “sex” to the
Tennessee Human Rights Act and creating the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act,
now codified at Tennessee Code Annotated § 7-51-1801(1) & (2), violates the Equal
Protection guarantees of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. The trial court
dismissed the action for lack of standing. We dismiss the claims of Plaintiffs Wesley Roberts
and the Gay/Straight Alliance of Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School as moot where
the Defendant Governor concedes that the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act does
not apply to Local Education Agencies or Tennessee schools. We affirm dismissal of the
remaining Plaintiffs for lack of standing where they have failed to allege a discrete, palpable,
cognizable injury in fact.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/04/14
Andrew J. Braden, III v. Tennessee Board of Probation, et al. - Dissent
M2013-02036-COA-R3-CV

I write separately to emphasize two troubling procedural issues with the majority Opinion. First, I am troubled by this Court’s analysis with regard to the timeliness of the filing of Mr. Braden’s petition for a writ of certiorari. Second, I disagree that this case is appropriate for summary disposition. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/04/14
Andrew J. Braden, III v. Tennessee Board of Probation, et al.
M2013-02036-COA-R3-CV

This is a pro se appeal from a denial of parole. Inmate/Appellant avers several problems
surrounding his parole hearing that he claims violate his due process and equal protection
rights, and violate the ex post facto constitutional prohibition. Because a prisoner has no
liberty interest in release on parole before the expiration of his sentence, due process
protections do not attach to parole determinations. Because, at the time of Appellant’s crime
and conviction, the law regarding parole gave total discretion to the Board and authorized
denial if the Board found that parole would depreciate the seriousness of the crime
committed, application of this ground for denial of parole does not violate ex post facto
prohibitions. Because Appellant has failed to prove that race was an issue in the Board’s
decision to deny him parole, no equal protection violation was shown. Consequently, we
affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the petition upon grant of summary judgment. Affirmed
and Remanded.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/04/14
Tammy Gipson v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, et al.
W2013-02872-COA-R3-CV

I fully concur with the majority that the trial court’s grant of summary judgment should be reversed in light of the factual dispute over ownership of the automobile operated by Ms. Gipson at the time of the accident.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/04/14