Stephen Wayne Sword, Judge

Biography

Reports of Cases Reviewed by Appellate Courts – Beginning Jan. 1, 2022

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

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State of Tennessee v. Bough, E2022-01788-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 18, 2023).  The pet- tioner, Shawn Rafael Bough, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Byrd, E2023-00274-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 5, 2023).  A Knox County jury found the Defendant, Dominique Michael Byrd, guilty of theft of property and vandalism, and the trial court sentenced him to serve an effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the Defendant argues only that the evidence is legally insufficient to show that he is the person who committed the crimes. On our review, we respectfully disagree and affirm the trial court’s judgments.

 

State of Tennessee v. Cochran, E2023-00142-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 28, 2023).  Defendant, David Lyndel Cochran, stands convicted of one count each of aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping. He appeals, arguing the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred in allowing a sexual assault nurse examiner to offer expert testimony. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. King, E2022-01394-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 6, 2023).  Defendant, Terrance Terrell King, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion seeking resentencing for a drug-related conviction under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-432(h). Defendant contends the trial court erred in denying the motion, and the State contends this court does not have jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s appeal. Defendant rejects the State’s assertion. After reviewing the applicable law and the parties’ arguments, we conclude Defendant does not have an appeal as of right available to him, and the appeal is therefore dismissed.

 

State of Tennessee v. Stack, E2022-01755-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 17, 2023). The Defendant, Christopher Kirk Stack, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s probation revocation of the six-year sentence he received for his guilty-pleaded conviction for attempted aggravated sexual battery. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Dunlap, Alias, E2022-00593-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 14, 2023).  The defendant, David Eugene Dunlap, Alias, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of possession with intent to sell or deliver .5 grams or more of methamphetamine in a drug-free zone, possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a crime of violence, possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for possession with intent to sell or deliver, and that the trial court erred by declining to sentence him under the amended Drug-Free Zone statute. Discerning no error, we affirm. 

 

State of Tennessee v. Longmire, E2022-01436-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 25, 2023).  A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Sean Longmire, of one count of first degree murder and three counts of attempted first degree murder. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Hodge, E2022-00303-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 24, 2023). Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37, the defendant, Casey DeWayne Hodge, appeals one certified question of law related to the trial court’s denial of his motion to dismiss in which he alleged a speedy trial violation and two certified questions of law related to the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress in which he challenged the constitutionality of a traffic stop. Discerning no error, we affirm. We remand for entry of judgments on Counts 2 and 3 reflecting that the charges were dismissed in accordance with the plea agreement.

 

State of Tennessee v. Atkins,  No. E2022-1027-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App.  Aug.  21, 2023). The Defendant, Robert Joseph Atkins, was convicted in the Knox County Criminal Court of second degree murder, tampering with evidence, and unlawful possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and received an effective thirty-one-year sentence. On appeal, he claims that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his murder conviction, (2) the trial court erred by admitting testimony about his prior assault of the victim, (3) the trial court erred by admitting an unauthenticated video into evidence, (4) the trial court should have granted a new trial because a police officer, who testified at trial, was the subject of an internal affairs investigation, (5) the trial court committed plain error by allowing the medical examiner to testify outside her area of expertise, and (6) he was denied his right to a fair trial under the cumulative error doctrine. Based upon the oral arguments, the record,
and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

Billy Hill v. State of Tennessee, E2022-01061-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug, 15, 2023) A Knox County jury found the Petitioner, Billy Hill, guilty of second degree murder. He later filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective by advising him not to testify at trial. The post-conviction court denied relief, finding that trial counsel’s advice was based on a sound strategy developed after thoroughly investigating the case. On appeal, we respectfully affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Cates, E2022-01667-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 15, 2023).  The Defendant, Kelli M. Cates, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence(“DUI”) after the trial court denied her motion to suppress. As a part of her plea agreement, she sought to reserve five certified questions of law for appeal challenging the legality of the traffic stop leading to her arrest. However, following our review, we conclude that the certified questions are not dispositive of the case and do not clearly identify the scope and limits of the legal issues reserved as required by Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A). Accordingly, we are without jurisdiction to consider the appeal, and the case is dismissed.

 

State of Tennessee v. Shackleford,  No. E2020-01712-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. July 14, 2023).  This appeal concerns the criminal gang-enhancement statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121, and specifically what is required in an indictment to sufficiently plead and provide notice under the statute. Dashun Shackleford (“Defendant”) was arrested for aggravated robbery as to four individuals in September 2016, along with his friend and fellow gang member, Jalon Copeland. Defendant’s indictment contained twenty counts: four alternative counts each of aggravated robbery against four victims and four corresponding counts of criminal gang offense enhancement. The gang-enhancement statute requires the State to give notice in separate counts of the indictment of the enhancement applicable under the statute. The indictment also alleged that Defendant was a “Crips” gang member and listed the convictions of fifteen alleged fellow Crips members to prove Defendant’s gang had a “pattern of criminal gang activity,” as also required by the gang-enhancement statute. A Knox County jury convicted Defendant as charged. The trial court merged the aggravated robbery convictions into four counts and imposed a total effective sentence of twenty years to be served at eighty-five percent. In this case, the gang- enhancement conviction increased Defendant’s aggravated robbery convictions from Class B felonies to Class A felonies. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his gang-enhancement conviction. The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed, taking particular issue with the allegation in the indictment that Defendant and the other gang members listed therein were plain Crips. In the gang-enhancement phase of trial, the proof established that the majority of the gang members listed in the indictment, including Defendant, were members of several different subsets of the Crips gang, with only one of the listed men identified as a plain Crip. The intermediate court concluded that the State failed to prove that Defendant’s subset gang had engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity and failed to comply with the notice requirements of the gang-enhancement statute. In doing so, the court also, sua sponte, determined that a fatal variance existed between the indictment and proof at trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals, therefore, reverted Defendant’s aggravated robbery convictions to a classification lower in the absence of the gang enhancement. After review, we conclude that the Court of Criminal Appeals erred in its decision. The gang-enhancement statute is worded broadly and does not require the State to specify in the indictment a criminal defendant’s gang subset nor that the defendant is in the same gang subset as the individuals whose criminal activity establishes the gang’s “pattern of criminal gang activity.” Defendant waived all other issues by failing to properly raise them before the trial court or on appeal. Therefore, the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed and the trial court’s judgments are reinstated.

 

Durrell v. State of Tennessee, E2022-01541-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. July 12, 2023). Dan E. Durell, Petitioner, appeals from the summary dismissal of his habeas corpus petition, in which he claimed his convictions were void because the State withheld exculpatory evidence during sentencing; the State misrepresented facts to the trial court that were relied upon in sentencing; and his convictions violate double jeopardy. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Briceno, E2022-00414-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. July 11, 2023).  Defendant, Luis Alexis Briceno, was convicted of alternative counts of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (second offense), driving on a revoked license, and violation of the financial responsibility law. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days, with seventy-five percent release eligibility, and service of fifty-nine days in confinement before release on probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts erred by denying his request of funding for expert assistance; Rule 13 of the Tennessee Supreme Court is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied in his case; and the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the results of his breath test. After a thorough review of the record and the briefs and oral arguments of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Billingsley, E2022-01419-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. July 10, 2023).  The Defendant, Marquez Travell Billingsley, pleaded guilty to conspiracy with intent to sell over fifteen grams of heroin in a drug-free zone, a park. In exchange, the State dismissed other charges pending against him. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twelve years, to be served at 100%. Several years later, the Defendant filed a motion to be resentenced pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-432(h). After a hearing, the trial court denied relief. On appeal, we conclude that an appeal as of right does not lie from a trial court’s decision regarding a motion for discretionary resentencing pursuant to the Drug-Free School Zone Act. Accordingly, the Defendant’s appeal is dismissed.

 

State of Tennessee v. Rollins, E2022-00892-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. June 21, 2023).  Defendant, Daryl Deangelo Rollins, pled guilty to one count of reckless vehicular homicide and two counts of reckless endangerment, as a Range I offender, in exchange for dismissal of the remaining counts of the indictment with no agreement as to the sentences. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied judicial diversion and alternative sentencing. Defendant was sentenced to six years for reckless vehicular homicide, two years on one count of reckless endangerment, and one year on the remaining count of reckless endangerment, to be served concurrently. Defendant appeals, arguing that his sentence for vehicular homicide is excessive, that the trial court improperly applied enhancement factors, and that the trial court erred by denying an alternative sentence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Wyrich, Alias, E2021-01256-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. June 13, 2023). The defendant, Cody Lynn Wyrick, Alias, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of rape of a child, rape, and aggravated sexual battery, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Gray, E2021-01000-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. June 9, 2023).  After a jury trial, the Defendant, Jerry Rommell Gray, was convicted of felony murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and attempted aggravated robbery. The Defendant received a total effective sentence of life plus fifteen years. In this delayed appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by (1) ordering that additional fingerprints could be taken from the Defendant on the first day of trial; and (2) allowing an expert to testify regarding the conclusions of a non-testifying expert. Upon review, we respectfully affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

Foster v. State of Tennessee, E2022-00489-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. May 8, 2023).  The Petitioner, Eric Foster, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for one count of aggravated rape, two counts of rape, one count of statutory rape, and one count of exhibition of harmful material to a minor. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred by dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief as untimely. The Petitioner argues that he is entitled to due process tolling of the statute of limitations because he pursued his rights diligently and there were extraordinary circumstances preventing his timely filing. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Beasley, E2021-01483-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. May 5, 2023).  The Defendant, Joshua X. Beasley, was convicted in the Knox County Criminal Court of various drug offenses committed within a drug-free zone and received an effective fifteen year sentence to be served at one hundred percent in confinement. Subsequently, the trial court granted his motion to resentence him pursuant to the amended version of the Drug- Free Zone Act and imposed an effective twelve-year sentence to be served at thirty percent release eligibility. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred by initially sentencing him under the previous version of the Act. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions but remand for resentencing as to his conviction in count four, delivering fentanyl, and correction of the judgment.

 

State of Tennessee v. Murphy, E2022-00605-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. May 1, 2023).  The Defendant, Shaquil Murphy, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of attempted first degree premeditated murder, attempted second degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for the attempted murder and employing a firearm convictions and argues that the trial court erred by not dismissing the employing a firearm counts of the indictment and by including duty to retreat language in the jury instruction on self-defense. Based on our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Guy, E2021-00560-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 28, 2023).  The defendant, Joel Michael Guy, Jr., appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder, and two counts of abuse of a corpse, challenging the denial of various motions to suppress evidence, the admission of certain evidence, the constitutionality of the statute prohibiting abuse of a corpse, and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions of abuse of a corpse and arguing that the cumulative effect of the errors entitles him to a new trial. Because the defendant did not have standing to challenge the warrantless entry into the house where the murders occurred, we affirm the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized from the crime scene on grounds different than those upon which the trial court relied. Even if the defendant had standing to challenge the entry into the house, the entry was supported by probable cause and exigent circumstances, and the evidence was in the officers’ plain view. The trial court correctly concluded that the search of the backpack was an appropriately-conducted inventory search. The trial court did not err by refusing to suppress surveillance video obtained using the receipts discovered from the unlawful search of the defendant’s Louisiana residence because the trial court correctly concluded that the police would have inevitably discovered the surveillance video during the course of the investigation. The trial court did not err by admitting evidence that the victims intended to stop providing financial support to the defendant. The proscriptive statute criminalizing the abuse of a corpse is not void for  vagueness, and the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to support the defendant’s convictions of these offenses. Finally, because we conclude that the trial court did not commit any error, no error obtains to accumulate. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Brush, Alias, E2022-00379-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 12, 2023).  The defendant, Nicklaus Edward Brush, alias, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated kidnapping and domestic assault, arguing that the first count of the indictment failed to charge an offense, that the evidence was insufficient to support his aggravated kidnapping conviction, that the State failed to establish venue, and that the trial court improperly questioned a witness at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Johnson, E2022-00302-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 21, 2023). The Defendant, Kristopher Johnson, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of facilitation of first degree felony murder, a Class A felony; two counts of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony; two counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; tampering with evidence, a Class C felony; aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-11-403 (2018) (facilitation), 39-13-202(a)(2) (2018) (subsequently amended) (first degree felony murder), 39-13-212(a) (2018) (criminally negligent homicide), 39-13-402 (2018) (aggravated robbery), 39-16-503 (2018) (tampering with evidence), 39-14-403 (2018) (repealed and replaced by § 39-13-1003) (aggravated burglary), 39-13-102 (Supp. 2017) (subsequently amended) (aggravated assault). The court merged the criminally negligent homicide convictions with the facilitation of first degree felony murder convictions. The court sentenced the Defendant, a Range II offender, to thirty years for each of the counts of the facilitation of first degree felony murder, eighteen years at 85% for each of the counts of aggravated robbery, ten years for tampering with evidence, ten years for aggravated burglary, and ten years for aggravated assault. The court imposed partially consecutive sentencing, with an effective sentence of seventy years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for the homicide and robbery offenses, (2) the court erred in allowing the State to introduce evidence of the Defendant’s street gang affiliation, (3) he was denied his fundamental right to cross-examine two witnesses, (4) the court erred in ruling that a witness’s statement was hearsay, (5) the court erred in determining that no violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615 regarding sequestration of witnesses occurred, (6) cumulative trial errors require reversal, and (7) the court erred in its application of a sentencing enhancement factor. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Shelton, E2022-00875-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 28, 2023).  The Defendant, Jimmie Elwood Shelton, appeals the trial court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. While on probation, the Defendant was again charged with multiple additional crimes. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation and when it ordered him to confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

 

State of Tennessee v. Baker, E2022-00385-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 27, 2023).  The Defendant, Darrin Jeremiah Baker, appeals from his guilty pleaded convictions for possession with the intent to sell or deliver more than 0.5 gram of methamphetamine, a Class B felony; attempted possession with the intent to sell or deliver less than fifteen grams of heroin, a Class C felony; possession with the intent to sell or deliver less than fifteen grams of fentanyl, a Class C felony; and driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417 (possession of heroin and fentanyl) (Supp. 2022), -17-434 (possession of methamphetamine) (2018), 55-10-401 (driving under the influence) (2020), 39-12-101 (attempt) (2018). The Defendant pleaded guilty as a Range I offender and agreed to an effective ten-year sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the court erred in denying alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

Broadway v. State of Tennessee, E2022-00489-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 27, 2022).  Rodger E. Broadway, Petitioner, sought relief from his 2003 convictions for first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated rape, which were the result of guilty pleas, claiming that trial counsel told him he could not file for post-conviction relief and that the trial court deprived him of his fundamental right to represent himself. The post-conviction court found that the petition was not timely filed and that Petitioner was not entitled to due process tolling and summarily dismissed the petition. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Hansard, E2021-01380-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 12, 2022). Following a Knox County jury trial, Defendant, Bobby Hansard, was convicted of one count of first degree murder, three counts of attempted first degree murder, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. On appeal, Defendant alleges that the trial court improperly limited defense counsel’s opening statement after counsel referenced various prior bad acts of one of the victims, and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a mistrial and his motion for a judgment of acquittal. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Wood, E2021-01536-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 5, 2022).  The defendant, Gary Wood, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury conviction of theft of property valued at $2,500 or more but less than $10,000, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

Thomas v. State of Tennessee, E2021-01338-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 2, 2022).  The Petitioner, Karen Thomas, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her conviction of aggravated stalking, alleging that she received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel did not object to the State presenting rebuttal testimony at trial or the trial court’s jury instruction regarding the rebuttal testimony. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. 

 

State of Tennessee v. Hickman, E2021-00662-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 24, 2022).  Defendant, Daniel Hickman, appeals his convictions for criminally negligent homicide and especially aggravated robbery, for which he received an effective 27-year sentence. On appeal, Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in excluding evidence supporting the defense theory that a third party committed the offenses in violation of Defendant’s right to present a defense; (3) the trial court erred in admitting the entire audio recording of Defendant’s interview with police and photographs taken of Defendant during the interview; (4) the trial court erred in admitting testimony regarding a prior suspect’s willingness to take a polygraph examination; (5) the jury improperly considered a lesser included offense for especially aggravated robbery in violation of the trial court’s sequential jury instructions; and (6) the cumulative effect of the errors deprived Defendant of his right to a fair trial. Upon reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, oral arguments and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Still, E2021-01009-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 11, 2022).  Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant-Appellant, Clifton Lawrence Still, entered a guilty plea to one count of kidnapping, a Class C Felony, and received an eight-year sentence, with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant’s application for alternative sentencing and ordered the eight-year sentence to be served in confinement in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in denying alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm. 

 

Merritt v. State of Tennessee, E2021-01095-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 25, 2022). The petitioner, Dale Vinson Merritt, appeals the denial of his petitions for post-conviction relief, which petitions challenged his convictions of delivery of less than 15 grams of heroin within a drug-free zone in case number 114585 and possession with intent to sell or deliver more than 15 grams of heroin in case number 114584, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

 

State of Tennessee v. Ennix, E2020-00231-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. S. Ct. Sept. 13, 2022).  In this appeal, we clarify the appropriate standard of review for claims of prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument when a defendant fails to contemporaneously object but later raises the claim in a motion for a new trial.  Tyler Ward Enix was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery for the 2015 killing of Kimberly Enix.  Mr. Enix filed a motion for a new trial challenging his convictions.  As relevant to this appeal, he alleged that four instances of improper prosecutorial closing argument, which were not contemporaneously objected to at trial, constitute reversible error.  The trial court denied his motion for new trial.  The Court of Criminal Appeals, reviewing the claims under the plain error doctrine, affirmed the trial court’s judgment.  Mr. Enix sought permission to appeal, arguing that this Court should employ plenary review to address his claims because they were included in his motion for a new trial.  We granted permission to appeal and now hold that plain error review is the appropriate standard, and, furthermore, that Mr. Enix is not entitled to relief.  Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals for the separate reasons stated herein.

 

Payne v. State of Tennessee, E2021-01017-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 25, 2022). Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Petitioner, Shawn L. Payne, pled guilty to second degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to 25 years’ incarceration. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210(a)(1). The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, rendering him unable to make a “knowing and informed” guilty plea. Specifically, he asserts that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to investigate the case adequately, failing to provide discovery to the Petitioner, and failing to apprise the Petitioner of all the consequences of his guilty plea. After careful review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Benning, E2021-00889-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 18, 2022).  The Defendant, William Benning, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, and he was sentenced to twenty-five years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

Simmons v. State of Tennessee, E2021-00819-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. July 15, 2022).  The Petitioner, Lavonte D. Simmons, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

 

Brady v. State of Tennessee, E2021-00917-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. July 15, 2022).  The Petitioner, Trendell Brady, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his post-conviction petition, seeking relief from his convictions for two counts of rape of a child and resulting effective fifty-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel should have expressly advised him not to testify at trial. After review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

 

Freeman v. State of Tennessee, No. E2021-01039-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. July 12, 2022).  Petitioner, Michael Lewis Freeman, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition. Specifically, Petitioner alleges that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him to testify at trial in support of his claim of self-defense. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Hardy, Jr., No. E2021-00616-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. June 9, 2022).  The Defendant, Charles Hardy, Jr., alias, appeals his convictions for first degree premeditated murder and tampering with evidence, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. Upon reviewing the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

 

State of Tennessee v. Menard, No. E2021-00164-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. May 12, 2022).  The Defendant, James Theodore Menard, alias, was convicted by a jury of rape of a child, exhibition of pictures depicting sexual conduct harmful to a minor, and two distinct counts of aggravated sexual battery, for which he received an effective forty-two-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the trial court committed plain error by allowing references to the victim’s forensic interview, as well as permitting remarks that the victim made allegations against the Defendant while at school; (2) the trial court committed reversible error by letting the State make improper comments during closing argument; and (3) the cumulative effect of these errors deprived him of a fair trial. Following our review, we affirm. However, we must remand for a clerical error in the judgment form for Count 3.

 

State of Tennessee v. Donaldson, No. E2020-01561-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 21, 2022). Aggrieved of his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of second degree murder, the defendant, Brandon Scott Donaldson, appeals. He alleges error in the composition of the jury, arguing that the venire did not represent a fair cross-section of the community and that the State improperly used a peremptory challenge to strike an African American. He claims error in both the admission and exclusion of evidence, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence a sonogram photograph and by excluding text messages sent by the victim, certain of the victim’s medical records, and prior consistent statements of a defense witness. He also asserts that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after a State’s witness offered improper testimony. He asserts that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during closing argument. He claims error in the jury instructions provided by the trial court, arguing that the trial court incorrectly defined the offense of voluntary manslaughter and that the sequential jury instruction essentially barred the jury from adequately considering voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of second degree murder. The defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the propriety of the total effective sentence. Finally, he asserts that the cumulative effect of the alleged errors prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. McDowell, No. E2020-01641-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 14, 2022). The Defendant, Justin Antonio McDowell, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of possession of more than 0.5 gram of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver within a drug-free zone, a Class A felony; possession of more than twentysix grams of methamphetamine with the intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture within a drug-free zone, a Class A felony; unlawful possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a violent felony, a Class B felony; and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a), (c), (i) (possession of cocaine or methamphetamine) (2018) (subsequently amended); 39-17-1307(b)(1) (possession of a firearm after previously having been convicted of a violent felony); 39-17-1324(a) (possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony) (2018) (subsequently amended); 37-17-1324(g)(2) (increasing the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, if the defendant had a prior felony conviction at the time of the present offense). The trial court merged two of the firearm convictions and imposed an effective thirty-year sentence, to be served at 100%. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained after his unlawful detention and a warrantless search of his car and motel room, (3) the trial court erred in admitting drug evidence because an unbroken chain of custody was not established, and (4) he is entitled to a sentence reduction due to post-sentencing changes to the drug-free zone sentence enhancement statute. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Michael Dillon Lambdin, No. E2020-01590-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 7, 2022). The Petitioner, Michael Dillon Lambdin, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition seeking relief from his conviction for first degree felony murder and life sentence. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel because (1) counsel failed to file a motion to suppress the Petitioner’s police statement due to the Petitioner’s intoxication; (2) counsel failed to object to crime scene and autopsy photographs; (3) counsel introduced a prejudicial crime scene photograph of the victim;(4) counsel failed to object to an improper statement made during the State’s rebuttal argument; and (5) counsel failed to request an accomplice jury instruction in writing. The Petitioner also asserts that the cumulative effect of these errors deprived him of a fair trial. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Cox¸ No. E2021-00621-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 1, 2022). Defendant, Kenneth Cox, was acquitted of premeditated murder and convicted by a Knox County jury of two counts of especially aggravated robbery and three counts of the lesser included offense of criminally negligent homicide. The trial court properly merged Defendant’s convictions and imposed an effective sentence of 38 years’ incarceration. Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress statements he made to police following his invocation of his right to counsel and that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Having reviewed the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Dashun Shackleford, No. E2020-01712-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. March 18, 2022). The Defendant-Appellant, Dashun Shackleford, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury as charged in a twenty-count indictment; four alternative counts each of aggravated robbery against four victims and four corresponding counts of criminal gang offense enhancement. The trial court merged the aggravated robbery convictions into four counts and imposed a total effective sentence of twenty years’ incarceration to be served at 85 percent. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his gang enhancement convictions; and (2) the gang enhancement counts violate his constitutional rights to due process and expressive association. Upon our review, we conclude that the State failed to sufficiently prove the gang enhancement counts and failed to comply with the notice requirements mandated by Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-35- 121(g). Accordingly, we reverse and vacate the judgments in Counts 13 through 16, and remand for resentencing as to those counts. Because the gang enhancements are no longer applicable to the Defendant’s case, we decline to address the constitutional questions raised in this appeal.

 

Melvin R. King, III v. State of Tennessee, No. E2021-00037-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. March 10, 2022). The Petitioner, Melvin R. King, III, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions and effective life sentence for first degree felony murder, aggravated burglary, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, reckless aggravated assault, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated animal cruelty. The Petitioner alleges that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to pursue intoxication as a defense; (2) failing to file a motion to suppress the Petitioner’s police statement because he was intoxicated when he gave it; (3) failing to adequately cross-examine a victim-witness who tampered with evidence at the crime scene and who gave an inconsistent prior statement; (4) failing to discuss the evidence tampering and inconsistent statement in closing argument; and (5) failing to poll the jurors to ensure they were not influenced by an improper communication from one of the jurors to the District Attorney General. In addition, the Petitioner argues that the cumulative effect of these errors deprived him of a fair trial. We affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Sterling White, No. E2021-00307-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. March 7, 2022). The Defendant, Sterling White was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of evading arrest, a Class E felony; reckless driving, a Class B misdemeanor; and leaving the scene of an accident, a Class B misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-16-603 (2018) (subsequently amended) (evading arrest), 55-10-205 (2020) (reckless driving), 55-10-102 (Supp. 2017) (subsequently amended) (leaving the scene). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a persistent offender to six years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a continuance. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

Demarkus Lowe v. State of Tennessee, No. E2021-00492-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. March 4, 2022). The Petitioner, Damarkus Lowe, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first degree murder conviction, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for advising him not to testify in his own defense. Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Steven C. James, No. E2021-00559-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. March 4, 2022). In March of 2021, Steven C. James, Defendant, filed a “Motion for Relief from Sentence.” The trial court denied the motion without a hearing. Defendant appealed. After a review of the record, we determine Defendant filed an untimely notice of appeal document and that the interest of justice does not favor waiving the timeliness requirement in this case. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

 

State of Tennessee v. Daron Hall , No. E2020-01634-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. March 2, 2022). The Defendant, Daron Hall, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of evading arrest, a Class E felony; driving a motor vehicle while his license was suspended, a Class B misdemeanor; criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor; violating the “light law,” a Class C misdemeanor; and operating a motor vehicle without a proper license plate, a Class C misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-16-603 (2018) (subsequently amended) (evading arrest), 55-50-504 (2018) (driving on a suspended license), 39-16-301 (2018) (criminal impersonation), 55-9-402 (2018) (motor vehicle light law), 55-5-114 (2018) (proper license plate). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a career offender to six years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a continuance. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Randal Ledon Tate, No. E2021-00217-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 28, 2022). Defendant, Randal Ledon Tate, was convicted by a jury of possession with intent to sell less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1,000 feet of a school (count 1), possession with intent to deliver less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1,000 feet of a school (count 2), simple possession of Alprazolam (“Xanax”) (count 3), possession with intent to deliver Xanax within 1000 feet of a school (count 4), driving without a license (count 5), criminal impersonation (count 6), violation of the financial responsibility law (count 7), violation of the registration law (count 8), and driving a motor vehicle without operational taillights. (count 9). The trial court merged count 2 into count 1 and count 3 into count 4 and imposed an effective fifteen-year sentence as a Range I offender to be served in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues: that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for possession of Xanax and heroin with intent to sell or deliver; that the trial court erred by admitting text messages about prior drugs sales; and that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss based on an alleged Ferguson violation. After hearing oral arguments, and following a review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

Nehad Sobhi Abdelnabi v. State of Tennessee, No. E2020-01270-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 18, 2022). Petitioner, Nehad Sobhi Abdelnabi, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in denying his claim that he was denied a trial by an impartial jury and in dismissing his second amended petition claiming that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to convey a plea offer. After hearing oral arguments and following a review of the entire record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Terrance Reece, No. E2020-01589-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 17, 2022). The Defendant, Terrance Reece, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of unlawful possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, a Class E felony; unlawful possession of a firearm by a felony drug offender, a Class D felony; unlawful possession of a firearm having been convicted of a felony involving the use of force or violence, a Class C felony; unlawful possession of a firearm having been convicted of a felony involving the use of force, violence, or a deadly weapon, a Class C felony; vandalism of property valued at $1,000 or less, a Class A misdemeanor; and three counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. After merging the firearms counts, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective term of twenty-two years in the Department of Correction, with the first twelve years to be served at 60% as a career offender and the last ten years at 45% as a persistent offender. The Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: 1) whether the trial court erred by its sua sponte mid-trial hearing to address an allegation that the Defendant threatened a witness during a break in the trial, by revoking the Defendant’s bond as a result of the alleged threat, and by allowing evidence of the alleged threat to be introduced at trial; 2) whether the trial court admitted prejudicial and irrelevant evidence in the form of testimony about a bullet found in the Defendant’s pocket at the time of his arrest that was discarded by the police, unredacted 911 calls by one of the alleged victims, and copies of the Defendant’s prior Michigan judgments; and 3) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the felony convictions. Based on our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. David Ware, No. E2021-00101-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 11, 2022). A Knox County grand jury indicted the defendant, David Ware, for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and simple possession of marijuana. A jury subsequently convicted the defendant as charged, and the trial court imposed an effective six-year sentence suspended to supervised probation after six months of service in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm and argues the trial court erred by granting one of the State’s peremptory challenges during jury selection. Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Timothy Whitaker, No. E2021-00456-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 10, 2022). Defendant, Timothy Whitaker, was convicted following a jury trial of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault by use of a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of fourteen years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for attempted second-degree murder and that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering partially consecutive sentences. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Rico Cook, No. E2020-01494-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 7, 2022). A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted the Defendant, Rico Cook, of two counts of felony murder, two counts of second degree murder, one count of attempted second degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated robbery, and one count of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus eighteen years. On appeal, the Defendant argues the trial court erred (1) in denying the motion to suppress his statement to law enforcement, which he gave as a juvenile; and (2) in denying the motion to suppress the eyewitness identification evidence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Richard G. Williams, Kipling Colbert, Jr. and Christopher Bassett, Jr., No. E2019-02236-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 18, 2022). A Knox County jury convicted the defendants, Richard G. Williams, Kipling Colbert, Jr., and Christopher Bassett, Jr., of multiple felonies based on the December 17, 2015 shooting death of fifteen-year-old Zaevion Dobson. On appeal, all of the defendants challenge the trial court’s admission of a YouTube video of the defendants rapping. Defendant Bassett appeals the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress his statement to the police. Defendants Colbert and Williams challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, and Defendant Williams, solely, asserts that the trial court erred when it admitted evidence of his involvement in an April 2016 shooting and that the effect of cumulative errors during the trial warrants appellate relief. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

 

State of Tennessee v. Adam Dewayne Holmes, No. E2021-00326-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 04, 2022). The defendant, Adam Dewayne Holmes, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of facilitation of possession with intent to sell heroin, facilitation of possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession with intent to sell less than .5 grams of cocaine in a drug-free zone, possession with intent to deliver less than .5 grams of cocaine in a drugfree zone, and simple possession, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the results of what he alleges to be an unlawful vehicle search. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

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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