William R. “Bill” Goodman, Judge

Biography

Report of Cases Reviewed By Appellate Courts – Beginning Jan. 1, 2022

Text is the appellate court’s summary of the opinion. 

Scroll down for important information.

 

State of Tennessee v. Long, M2023-00427-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 5, 2024).  The Defendant, Rusty Amos Long, appeals the Robertson County Circuit Court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence for his conviction for burglary other than a habitation and ordering him to serve the remainder of his five-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to conduct a new sentencing hearing and by failing to consider whether revocation was in the interests of justice. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Hutcherson, M2023-00116-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Nov. 21, 2023).  The Defendant, Timothy Hutcherson, was convicted of second degree murder, attempted second degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and reckless endangerment and received an effective sentence of twenty-three years in confinement. On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction of second degree murder, that the trial court erred by failing to suppress his statement to police, and that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to hear about his gang affiliation in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b). Based on our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case to the trial court for correction of the judgment in count nine.

 

State of Tennessee v. Gant, M2023-00214-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Nov. 7, 2023). The Defendant, Chandler Gant, pled guilty in the Robertson County Circuit Court to assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced by the trial court to 11 months, 29 days in the county jail, with 30 days to serve on consecutive weekends and the remainder of the time on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering a sentence of partial confinement. Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Bowen, M2022-01289-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Oct. 17, 2023).  The Defendant, Bradley Dwight Bowen, appeals from his jury convictions for possession of one-half gram or more of methamphetamine with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver; simple possession of cocaine; possession of drug paraphernalia; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; for which he received an effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, he challenges the trial court’s denial of (1) his motion to suppress the evidence seized as a result of his detention and (2) his motion to continue requesting additional time to prepare his pro se defense. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Bond, M2022-00469-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Aug. 30, 2023).  The State appeals the trial court’s order granting the motion of the defendant, Mark David Bond, to suppress evidence seized during the search of his vehicle after a drug detection canine indicated the presence of narcotics during a sweep around the perimeter of the vehicle. The State challenges the trial court’s conclusion that the canine’s reaction was unreliable due to the canine’s inability to distinguish between the odor of illegal marijuana and the odor of legal hemp. After review, we reverse the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion to suppress, reinstate the indictment against the defendant, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

 

State of Tennessee v. Horn, II, M2022-00615-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. July 19, 2023).  Defendant, Clifton Weathers Horn, II, pleaded guilty to eight counts of unlawful photography in violation of privacy (with dissemination), one count of attempted tampering with evidence, and fourteen counts of facilitation of sexual exploitation of a minor. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to a term of four years in the Department of Correction, followed by one year of supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant argues the trial court erred in denying judicial diversion or other forms of full alternative sentencing. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Goliday, M2022-00378-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. May 8, 2023).  The Defendant, Tavarius Goliday, was convicted in the Montgomery County Circuit Court of first degree premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and received an effective sentence of life in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by overruling his objection to evidence about a gang-related tattoo on his hand and that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for correction of the judgment of conviction as to count one, first degree murder.

 

Shelton, Jr. v. State of Tennessee,  No. M2022-00849-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. May 3, 2023).  A Montgomery County jury convicted Petitioner, Curtis O’Neal Shelton, Jr., of two counts of first degree felony murder, one count of especially aggravated burglary, four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated kidnapping, and seven counts of attempted aggravated robbery. After merging the two felony murder convictions, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to an effective term of life in prison plus twenty years. Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed his convictions and sentence. Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court dismissed after a hearing. On appeal, Petitioner argues that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to (1) communicate with Petitioner effectively; (2) raise sufficient, proper objections to the State’s evidence; (3) introduce evidence on Petitioner’s behalf; and (4) file a timely motion for new trial. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

 

State of Tennessee v. Phillips, M2021-01204-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 27, 2023).  Spencer L. Phillips, Defendant, claims that the trial court abused its discretion by denyingprobation or an alternative sentence and ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Slee, M2022-00120-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 27, 2023).  In April of 2013, Defendant, Yvette Adele Slee, was convicted of aggravated child abuse and attempted first degree murder for suffocating the victim, Defendant’s eight-month-old child. She was sentenced to an effective sentence of 22 years in incarceration. Subsequently, in May of 2018, the victim died as a result of complications from injuries originally sustained by the aggravated child abuse. Defendant was then indicted for first degree felony murder, the subject offense of this direct appeal. After a bench trial, Defendant was found guilty as indicted. Defendant’s sole issue on appeal is whether her conviction for first degree felony murder violates double jeopardy. After a review of the record, the briefs, and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Robinson, M2022-00248-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Nov. 30, 2022). Following two convictions for aggravated assault, the Defendant, Gregory Sean Robinson, was sentenced to an effective term of ten years and placed on probation. Thereafter, the Defendant absconded from supervision and committed new criminal offenses. As a consequence, the trial court revoked the suspended sentences and ordered that the Defendant serve the balance of the effective sentence in custody. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his suspended sentences in full instead of allowing him to participate in a substance-use treatment program through a furlough. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Mimms, M2021-00383-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. July 20, 2022).  In 2020, a Montgomery County jury convicted the Defendant, Michael Mimms, of facilitation of first degree premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder.  The trial court imposed concurrent fifteen-year sentences in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions.  After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

 

Williams v. State of Tennessee,  No. M2020-00512-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. June 23 2022).  The petitioner, Verchaunt J. Williams, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his convictions of first degree murder, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

 

Jackson v. State of TennesseeNo. M2021-00302-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Apr. 27, 2022). The Petitioner, Eric Todd Jackson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief and the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that his guilty pleas to forgery and theft of property were unknowing and involuntary due to the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his sentence was illegal because he was innocent of the offenses. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post conviction court.

 

Nicholson v. State of Tennessee¸ No. M2020-01128-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Apr. 22, 2022). William Cole Nicholson, Petitioner, was convicted of one count of aggravated sexual battery, and this court affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. State v. William Cole Nicholson, No. M2017-01761-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 4203549, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 4, 2018), no perm. app. filed. Petitioner filed a pro se post-conviction petition and an amended petition through counsel, arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and Petitioner now ap- peals. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. John David Grant, No. M2021-00672-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. March 30, 2022). Defendant, John David Grant, appeals from the Robertson County Circuit Court’s revocation of his effective six-year community corrections sentence for his aggravated assault and vandalism of property convictions.  On appeal, he contends that his counsel at the revocation hearing provided ineffective assistance.  Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

Jayson Bryant Collier v. State of Tennessee, No. M2021-00209-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. March 8, 2022). The Petitioner, Jayson Bryant Collier, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for possession of one-half ounce or more of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver within 1000 feet of a school, possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, theft of property valued at five hundred dollars or less, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, driving on a revoked license, and speeding.  On appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, that his sentence violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 16 of the Tennessee Constitution, and that his sentence is illegal under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1.  After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.    

 

Christopher Demotto Linsey v. State of Tennessee, No. M2020-01126-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 25, 2022). The Petitioner, Christopher Demotto Linsey, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained from his cell phone, failing to object to evidence presented at trial, and failing to file a timely motion for new trial.   Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying relief.

 

State of Tennessee v. Kevin Tuvarey Gilmore, No. M2020-01620-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 10, 2022). The Defendant, Kevin Tuvarey Gilmore, pleaded guilty in the Montgomery County Circuit Court to evading arrest creating a risk of death, a Class D felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-16-603 (2018).  Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant received a six-year sentence as a Range II offender, and the trial court would determine the manner of service.  After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his request for probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. DeAngelo LeQuinte Berry, No. M2020-00250-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 10, 2022). The Appellant, DeAngelo LeQuinte Berry, was convicted in the Montgomery County Circuit Court of first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and received a sentence of life plus nine years.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce evidence from a cellular telephone and a Facebook account because the evidence was not admissible pursuant to Tennessee Rules of Evidence 403 and 901, that the trial court’s failure to grant a mistrial after a witness referred to an assault rifle constitutes plain error, and that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing.  Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we find no reversible error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Bradley Dwight Bowen, No. M2020-01311-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 13, 2022). The Defendant, Bradley Dwight Bowen, appeals from the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s revocation of his effective nine-year split confinement sentence for convictions for child neglect and possession of methamphetamine. He contends that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering him to serve his sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Kemontea Dovon McKinney, No. M2020-00950-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 5, 2022). The defendant, Kemontea Dovon McKinney, appeals his Robertson County Circuit Court jury convictions of aggravated robbery, first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and theft, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting his pretrial statement into evidence, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the evidence established that he acted in self-defense.  Because the trial court erred by admitting the defendant’s statement into evidence and because the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant’s convictions are reversed and remanded for a new trial.  Because the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction of first degree premeditated murder but sufficient to support a conviction of second degree murder, that conviction must be modified to one of second degree murder.  The evidence was sufficient to support the jury verdicts of felony murder, aggravated robbery, and theft.  Accordingly, we remand the case to the trial court for a new trial on two counts of felony murder, one count of second degree murder, one count of aggravated robbery, and, one count of theft of property.

 

Understanding the Limitations and Use of the Information Found in This Book

Tennessee’s trial judges resolve hundreds of thousands of legal and factual issues in tens of thousands of cases every single year.  No appeal is filed in the vast percentage of those cases, indicating that while the “losing” party may not like a ruling on a particular issue, that party understands there was an appropriate reason for the judge’s decision or, at a minimum, the judge was acting within his or her discretion.

 

Of course, a small number of decisions of trial judges do result in an appeal. Experienced trial lawyers know that the number of cases appealed out of a particular trial judge’s court does not, in and of itself, reveal much about the trial judge. For example, some judges hear more complex cases than others, and those cases are more likely to be appealed. Convictions in child sex abuse cases are frequently appealed, as are many criminal cases resulting in long sentences. There are a large number of parental rights termination cases that find their way to the appellate courts.  Judges who routinely try those types of cases will, other things being equal, see more of their cases reviewed by appellate courts than judges who do not see such cases.

 

Second, certain litigants (and certain lawyers) are more likely to appeal a case than others.  Thus, judges who have those litigants or lawyers regularly appear in their courtrooms will find more cases reviewed by the appellate courts.

 

For these and other reasons, the reader is cautioned not to read too much into the number of cases appealed from a court.  Stated differently, there is no reason to believe that a judge who has ten cases reviewed by an appellate court in a single year is a “worse” judge than one who has one case appealed, or that a judge who has three cases appealed is a “better” judge than one who has nine cases appealed.

 

Next, the number of times a judge’s ruling is reversed by an appellate court is not necessarily indicative of the quality of his or her work. For example, experienced lawyers know that there are “holes in the law,” i.e., cases where there is no law directly on point and the judge is forced to predict what an appellate court would rule on the issue. The fact that a judge decided an open legal issue one way and an appellate court decided it another way does not mean that the trial judge was “wrong” or does not understand the law. It simply means that the trial judge had a different view of what the law should be than the appellate court that decided the issue. A trial judge is not blessed with a crystal ball that can with 100 percent accuracy forecast how an appellate court will rule on an undecided legal issue.

 

In addition, the trial court is sometimes not provided with the same in-depth legal arguments and law that is supplied to the appellate court by the parties, or which is provided by law clerks at the appellate level (many trial courts do not have law clerks). The trial judge may have reached the same conclusion as the appellate court if he or she had been supplied with additional law or argument.

 

Finally, the law changes constantly, and the trial judge may rule on a case based on today’s law, which may evolve between the time of that ruling and the issuance of an opinion of the appellate court. In such cases, the reversal of the case by the appellate court is a question of timing of the original court decision as compared to changes in the law, not one of error by the trial court.

 

So, what is the value of this book?  How can the trial lawyer use it to help his or her clients given the limitations expressed above? Permit me to digress slightly.

 

You have seen the coffee cups or t-shirts that proclaim, “A good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the judge.”

 

Some read this phrase as suggesting that the “great lawyer” is one who has an improper relationship with the judge – that he or she can use a personal relationship to improperly influence the judge.  But most lawyers know better.  Most lawyers understand that “knowing the judge” means knowing the judge’s background, preferences concerning the presentation of evidence (including exhibits), arguments of motions, drafting of proposed orders, and given that experience, how he or she is likely to rule on a particular issue.  “Knowing the judge” also means knowing the local rules, local forms, local customs, and what things irritate the judge (and every judge is irritated by at least one thing that lawyers or litigants may do).

 

Many lawyers, particularly those in more rural areas of the state or who limit their practice to one area of law, understand the personality and preferences of the judges they see on a regular basis. Many of these lawyers may have a fair advantage appearing before that judge. (The advantage is “fair” because it results from experience and knowledge.)  That advantage – knowing how the judge thinks and his or her preferences – is not outcome-determinative, but it still may be an advantage, similar to a sports team playing on their home field.

 

Why did I say it “may” be an advantage, given what I said earlier about the benefits of “knowing the judge?”  Because simply knowing the judge’s thought processes and preferences is not enough. You still need to have the law and the facts on your client’s side.  And you need to be prepared to be able to give the judge what he or she needs to know to make a ruling.

 

So, the purpose of “The Book” is to give Tennessee lawyers case-related information to help them understand the trial judge who will rule on their client’s case or preside over a jury trial. By looking at past appellate court rulings arising from cases decided by the trial judge, anyone unfamiliar with a judge can get a “feel” for the judge. The case data contained herein does not compare with daily or weekly appearances in front of the judge on issues like a given case, but it is readily available information that give you an idea of how the judge has ruled in the past on a variety of matters.

 

The cases included are those originally decided by the trial judge that were in appellate court opinions released on or after January 1, 2022.  Note that there are a substantial number of judges who first took office in 2022 and thus it is reasonable to assume that there will be no appellate decisions for such judges until late 2023 or 2024.

 

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"The Book" - Information on Tennessee Trial Judges Copyright © 2023 by BirdDog Law, LLC. All Rights Reserved.