Donald H. Allen, Judge

Biography

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

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State of Tennessee v. Penny, No. W2023-00912-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Apr. 25, 2024). The Defendant, William Dangelo Penny, was convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicant. The trial court placed him on probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days after service of forty-eight hours. The court also suspended his driver’s license. Thereafter, the Defendant was arrested for evading arrest, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving on a suspended license. After a hearing, the trial court fully revoked the Defendant’s probationary sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues that a complete revocation of his sentence was an abuse of discretion. Upon our review, we respectfully disagree and affirm the trial court’s judgment.

 

State of Tennessee v. Reid, No. W2023-00925-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Mar. 26, 2024). Defendant, Jamieum Alvin Reid, was indicted by a Madison County Grand Jury for possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver, and possession of methamphetamine. Defendant pled guilty as charged and agreed to an effective eight-year sentence, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in denying alternative sentencing because he was already approved by a community based program, and the State failed to present evidence that an alternative sentence was inappropriate. Following our review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Loredo, No. W2023-00088-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Mar. 4, 2024). The Appellant, A Close Bonding Co., LLC, acting as the bail bond surety in the criminal case of the Defendant, Jose S. Loredo, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of the Appellant’s motion to recuse and motion to set aside final forfeiture of the Defendant’s bond. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court did not err and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Mathis, No. W2022-01588-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 27, 2024). A Madison County jury found Defendant, Bobby Neil Mathis, Jr., guilty as charged of one count of rape of a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child. The trial court merged the two counts and sentenced Defendant to thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues he is entitled to a new trial because the State failed to elect offenses for the two counts presented to the jury, the trial court erred in failing to issue a modified unanimity instruction, and the evidence was insufficient to sustain the jury’s verdicts. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

Kidd v. State of Tennessee, No. W2023-00601-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 21, 2024). Petitioner, Farris Lamont Kidd, pleaded guilty to five separate charges, and received an effective fourteen-year sentence. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. On appeal, Petitioner argues he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Mahaffey, No. W2022-01778-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  Feb. 5, 2024). Defendant, Jennifer May Mahaffey, pled guilty to alternate counts of sale of methamphetamine “over 0.5 grams” and delivery of methamphetamine “over 0.5 grams”1 in three cases, 20-027-2, 20-028-2, and 20-029-2. The trial court sentenced Defendant to ten years imprisonment on each count, merged the alternate counts in each case, and ran the ten-year sentences in two of the cases concurrently with each other, and the ten-year sentence in the third case consecutively to the first two, for a total effective sentence of twenty years confinement. The trial court also imposed fines totaling $6,100, and ordered restitution in the amount of $563. On appeal, Defendant contends the trial court erred in ordering restitution to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department, in imposing fines and restitution without determining her present and future ability to pay, and in imposing partial consecutive sentences. After reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we discern no reversible error in the trial court’s imposition of partial consecutive sentences, but we determine the order of restitution was in error. Therefore, we affirm the sentences imposed by the trial court, vacate the orders of restitution, and remand for entry of corrected judgments.

 

Britt v. Usery, No. W2022-00256-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan . 18, 2024). The Plaintiff hired the Defendant to build a concrete foundation for his new home. The foundation was allegedly defective. The Plaintiff hired a third party to remove the concrete and to properly complete the work. The Plaintiff then sued the Defendant, alleging breach of contract, negligent construction, and fraud. The case languished for several years. The trial court ordered the Plaintiff to provide dates on which the Defendant could inspect certain evidence, but the Plaintiff failed to comply. The trial court then orally granted the Defendant’s motion to dismiss with prejudice for failure to prosecute. Before the trial court entered a written order, the Plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. The trial court concluded that the Plaintiff’s notice was untimely submitted, coming after the oral rulinggranting the motion to dismiss, and entered a written order dismissing the Plaintiff’s case with prejudice for failure to prosecute. Concluding that the Plaintiff maintained his right to a voluntary dismissal under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.01(1), we reverse.

 

State of Tennessee v. Hart, No. W2023-00122-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  Jan.2, 2024).  Following a Henderson County jury trial, Defendant, Trinces Eugene Hart, was convicted of three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He appeals, arguing the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court; however, we remand the case to the trial court for merger of the three counts into a single judgment of conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

 

Cole v. State of Tennessee, W2023-00517-CCA-R3-ECN (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Dec. 28, 2023).  The petitioner, Demarcus Keyon Cole, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition challenged his 2013 Madison County Circuit Court jury convictions for felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, arguing that he is entitled to a new trial due to newly discovered evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Patrick, No. W2022-01774-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  Oct. 12, 2023).  A Madison County jury convicted the Appellant, Markettus L. Patrick, of aggravated assault by strangulation or attempted strangulation, a Class C felony, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iv), for which he received a sentence of five years to be served on supervised probation following service of 150 days in confinement. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Anderson, No. W2022-01758-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  Sept. 13, 2023). The Defendant, Desmond Anderson, was convicted of three offenses in 2013, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of twenty years consisting of concurrent sentences of varying lengths. The trial court awarded pretrial jail credit on Count 1 but did not do so in Counts 2 or 3. The Defendant later filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 seeking to have appropriate pretrial jail credit awarded on all concurrent sentences. The trial court summarily denied the motion, concluding that the request was an administrative matter for the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appealed, and the State concedes error. We agree. We respectfully vacate the trial court’s order and remand the case for entry of corrected judgments in Counts 2 and 3 to award appropriate pretrial jail credit on all concurrent sentences.

 

State of Tennessee v. Mullins, No. W2022-01363-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  Aug. 25, 2023).  The Chester County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Jerry Ray Mullins, for the first-degree murder of the victim, Samantha Melendez. Following a jury trial, he was convicted of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder. The trial court imposed a twenty-two year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction because he acted in self-defense when he shot the victim twice in the head. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Stegall, No. W2022-00628-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  July 17, 2023).  Defendant was convicted of a single count of aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court imposed a sentence of eight years as a Range I offender to be served in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred by admitting the video recording of the minor victim’s forensic interview. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we reverse Defendant’s conviction and remand this case for a new trial.

 

State of Tennessee v. Henderson, No. W2022-00882-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  June 21, 2023).  In this appeal from a resentencing hearing, the Defendant, Darius Henderson, challenges his total effective sentence of twelve years following his convictions for theft of property and evading arrest. The Defendant argues that the trial court erred by not applying two mitigating circumstances and by aligning the sentences to run consecutively. We respectfully disagree and affirm the trial court’s judgments.

 

State of Tennessee v. James, No. W2022-00023-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  May. 31, 2023). The Appellant, Antonio Tywan James, appeals as of right from his convictions of first degree premeditated murder and tampering with evidence, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. The Appellant argues the trial court erred in denying funds to obtain expert services and in excluding the Appellant’s conversation with his aunt, Annie Merriweather, as inadmissible hearsay. Based upon the combination of these two alleged trial errors, the Appellant contends reversal under the cumulative error doctrine is required. The Appellant additionally argues the trial court erred in not requiring the State to elect which item it was using in its prosecution of tampering with evidence. Upon our review, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Brown, No. W2022-00156-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App.  May. 15, 2023).  The Defendant, Michael Marcell Brown, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of first degree felony murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate robbery; conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, a Class C felony; and attempt to perpetrate aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202(a)(2) (2018) (subsequently amended) (first degree felony murder), 39-12-103(a) (conspiracy) (2018); 39-13-402(a) (2018) (aggravated robbery); 39-12-101(a) (2018) (criminal attempt). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life for first degree murder and to six years for each of the two remaining convictions. The court imposed the sentences concurrently to each other but consecutively to the Defendant’s sentences in another case. 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 his pretrial statement, (3) the court erred in excluding hearsay evidence, (4) the court erred in admitting a photograph exhibit because it was not properly authenticated, and (5) the cumulative effect of multiple trial errors requires relief. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Gordon, No. W2021-01198-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App.  Mar. 7, 2023). The defendant, Quincy M. Gordon, entered an open plea to one count of forgery, and based on his prior Michigan convictions, the trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range III, career offender to six years’ incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range III, career offender based on his out-of-state convictions. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new sentencing hearing.

 

State of Tennessee v. Jones, No. W2022-00046-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 14, 2023). The defendant, Kentavis Antwon Jones, appeals his Madison County Circuit Court jury convictions of possession of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, possession of marijuana with intent to sell or deliver, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, theft, driving on a revoked license, and violation of the window tint law, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. The defendant also raises the issue of merger, arguing that the trial court properly merged his convictions. Because the trial court erred by merging certain firearm convictions and because the judgments contain clerical errors, we reverse the improper mergers and remand the case for the entry of corrected judgments. We affirm the trial court’s judgments in all other respects.

 

State of Tennessee v. Graves, No. W2021-01478-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.  Crim. App. Feb. 9, 2023).  A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Justin Darnay Graves, of two counts of simple possession of heroin, introduction of contraband into a penal facility, tampering with evidence, speeding, and driving while unlicensed, for which he received an effective sentence of six years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction for tampering with evidence. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in classifying his conviction for introduction of contraband into a penal facility as a Class C felony. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court with respect to the defendant’s convictions for simple possession, introduction of contraband into a penal facility, speeding, and driving while unlicensed. However, we reverse and vacate the defendant’s conviction for tampering with evidence because we conclude the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Furthermore, we remand to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing reflecting that the introduction of contraband into a penal facility conviction is a Class D felony and for corrected judgment forms in counts one and two.

 

State of Tennessee v. Barnett, No. W2021-00951-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App.  Dec. 20, 2022).  A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Priscilla Ann Barnett, of one count of first degree premediated murder, one count of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, and two counts of aggravated child abuse. The trial court merged the murder convictions and imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions; (2) the trial court erred in denying her request for funds to retain a mental health expert; and (3) the trial court erroneously imposed consecutive sentences. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

 

State of Tennessee v. Williams, No. W2021-01071-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.  Crim. App. Dec. 16, 2022).  The Defendant, Kirsten Janine Williams, was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated burglary. She received an effective 15-year sentence to be served at 100-percent. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting her convictions, arguing that there was no proof she ever held a gun, that the victim was free to leave, and that she entered the victim’s residence with consent. Following our review of the record and applicable authorities, we find the evidence sufficient to support the Defendant’s convictions and affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Perry, No. W2019-01553-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.  Crim. App. Dec. 9, 2022).  In this appeal, we address principles governing the imposition of consecutive sentencing for “an offender whose record of criminal activity is extensive.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-115(b)(2) (2019). Quinton Devon Perry pleaded guilty to twenty-four counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor that took place during the years 2016 and 2017, stemming from the discovery that he had uploaded 174 images or videos comprising child pornography or child erotica to his electronic file sharing account. Although Mr. Perry had no prior criminal convictions, the trial court imposed partial consecutive sentencing after finding that he qualified as an offender whose record of criminal activity was extensive. A divided panel of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. State v. Perry, No. W2019-01553-CCA-R3-CD, 2021 WL 2563039, at *7 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 22, 2021), perm. app. granted, (Tenn. Nov. 18, 2021). The dissenting judge, citing a lack of proof that Mr. Perry engaged in a continuous course of downloading and uploading materials over the alleged time period, concluded that the record did not establish him as an offender whose record of criminal activity was extensive. Id. at *6–7 (McMullen, J., dissenting).1 Mr. Perry sought permission to appeal, arguing that the lower courts improperly found him to be an offender whose record of criminal activity was extensive based solely on the number of offenses to which he pleaded guilty. We accepted Mr. Perry’s appeal. In this opinion, we clarify certain principles for imposing consecutive sentencing under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-115(b)(2) and set forth a non-exclusive list of considerations to aid determining whether a defendant qualifies as an offender whose record of criminal activity is extensive. Based on our review, we have determined that the trial court adequately articulated the reasons for ordering consecutive sentencing on the record. Affording the trial court’s decision a presumption of reasonableness, we conclude that the trial court did not err in imposing partial consecutive sentencing. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

 

State of Tennessee v. Hampton, No. W2022-00938-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 14, 2022).  Stephen Paul Hampton and Margaret Mary Hampton were charged in the Madison County Circuit Court with drug and weapon offenses, but the charges were dismissed after the trial court granted their motions to suppress statements made to a police officer and evidence found in their vehicle. On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred by granting the motions to suppress because the statements were not made during a custodial interrogation and because the police officer had probable cause to search the vehicle. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the trial court’s orders granting the motions to suppress, vacate the order dismissing the indictment, and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

 

Ward v. State of Tennessee, W2021-01421-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 12, 2022).  The petitioner, Randall R. Ward, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

 

State of Tennessee v. Baker, No. W2022-00085-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 10, 2022).  The Defendant-Appellant, Bradi Baker, was found guilty of second degree murder by a Madison County circuit court jury based on the shooting death of her ex-husband. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210(a)(1). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: 1) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting Exhibits 4B and 4C, two cell phone videos taken from the victim’s phone depicting his shooting death;2 2) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting Exhibit 4D, a “video compilation of other exhibits manipulated and edited by law enforcement”; 3) the trial court committed plain error by admitting Exhibit 4D in violation of the Defendant’s due process rights; 4) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction for second degree murder; and 5) the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant to twenty-five years imprisonment. After careful review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Yancey, No. W2022-00131-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 10, 2022).  A Madison County Circuit Court adjudicated the defendant, Chasity Tanesha Yancey, not guilty by reason of insanity for one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, and two counts of aggravated child abuse. Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 33-7-303, the trial court ordered the defendant be diagnosed and evaluated on an outpatient basis and to comply with the recommended Mandatory Outpatient Treatment (“MOT”) plan. In a subsequent order, the trial court modified the MOT plan by imposing additional conditions upon the defendant. As a result of the modification order, the defendant filed a direct appeal, an interlocutory appeal, and an extraordinary appeal under Rules 3, 9, and 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, respectively. After the trial court denied the defendant’s Rule 9 motion, this Court consolidated the Rule 3 and Rule 10 appeals in order to address both the jurisdictional issue and the merits of the case. Upon our review, we conclude the jurisdiction of this Court lies with an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rules 9 or 10 and grant the defendant’s Rule 10 application. In doing so, we remand the case to the trial court for a hearing on the issue of whether modifications should be made to the defendant’s MOT plan.

 

Smith v. All Nations Church of God, No. W2021-00846-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 28, 2022). This case stems from a retaliatory discharge claim under the Tennessee Public Protection Act. The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded her $3,000.00 in compensatory damages and $12,500.00 in punitive damages. The trial court then awarded the plaintiff $12,500.00 of the over $100,000.00 in attorney’s fees she requested. Following a remand from this Court, the trial court increased the attorney’s fees award to $32,000.00. Discerning no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s second attorney’s fees award, we affirm. We also award the plaintiff her reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in prosecuting the first appeal.

 

State of Tennessee v. Stinson, No. W2021-01103-COA-R3-JV (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 27, 2022).  The Defendant, Charles Lafayette Stinson, was convicted of two counts of possession with intent to sell 0.5 gram or more of methamphetamine, a Class B felony; two counts of simple possession of a Schedule IV drug, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 39-17-418 (2018) (simple possession); -425 (2018) (possession of drug paraphernalia); -434 (2018) (possession with intent to sell). He received an effective eighteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by (1) allowing the State to introduce testimony regarding the Defendant’s prior criminal charges, (2) allowing the State’s rebuttal witness to testify regarding evidence beyond the scope of evidence presented in the State’s case-in-chief, and (3) failing to consider the required statistical information when sentencing the Defendant. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Isaiah, No. W2021-01133-COA-R3-JV (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 23, 2022).  This appeal arises out of delinquency proceedings that originated in the Madison County Juvenile Court. The State filed an initial delinquency petition, but the petition was unverified. The defect in the petition remained undiscovered by the State until the first witness was sworn at the adjudicatory hearing. The juvenile court dismissed the petition and found that jeopardy attached. The State filed a second verified delinquency petition. However, the juvenile court dismissed the petition finding that it violated principles of double jeopardy. The State appealed to the circuit court. The circuit court dismissed the petition finding that jeopardy attached on the initial petition. The State appeals. We reverse and remand.

 

State of Tennessee v. Greer, W2021-01329-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 25, 2022).  The Defendant-Appellant, Tony Latrell Greer, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to concurrent sentences of thirty-three years, ten years, and ten years, respectively. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court. After review, we remand the case for entry of corrected judgment forms as specified in this opinion. In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

 

Green v. State of Tennessee, W2021-00442-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. July 15, 2022).  The Petitioner, Donte Green, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions relating to the possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia resulting from law enforcement’s seizure of illegal substances from the Petitioner’s motel room pursuant to a search warrant. He claims that appellate counsel was ineffective due to her failure to challenge the validity of the search warrant on direct appeal. See State v. Donte Lavon Green, No. W2018-00092-CCA-R3-CD, 2019 WL 1595684 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 15, 2019), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 16, 2019). He also claims that his convictions are voidable due to the abridgement of his Fourth Amendment rights and article I, section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution because the search conducted by law enforcement was illegal and that the evidence seized should have been suppressed as a result. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

 

Ward v. State of Tennessee, W2021-01224-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. July 14, 2022).  The petitioner, Randall Ward, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2018 Madison County Circuit Court jury convictions of possession with the intent to sell and deliver cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

 

State of Tennessee v. Coman, No. W2020-01684-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. June 24, 2022). The pro se defendant, Brandon Cardell Coman, Jr., appeals his Madison County Circuit Court jury conviction of aggravated robbery, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence, excluding certain evidence, denying a motion to suppress certain evidence, denying the defendant’s request for new counsel, denying a motion to dismiss the charges; that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; and that his trial was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Hinson, No. W2021-00257-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. June 3, 2022).  A Madison County jury convicted Defendant, Timothy Hinson, for one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child (“CSAC”), five counts of rape, five counts of aggravated statutory rape, five counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, three counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, and one count of attempted sexual battery by an authority figure. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court violated Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-518(f) when it failed to dismiss the predicate offenses after merging them into CSAC, (2) the trial court imposed sentences for the predicate offenses in contravention of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-518(f), (3) his convictions in Counts 3 and 11 violate the protections against double jeopardy, and (4) the trial court abused its discretion in enhancing Defendant’s sentence for the CSAC conviction. After review and pursuant to the plain language of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-518(f), we remand the case for resentencing on Counts 4, 8, 12, 15, and 18, and entry of corrected judgment forms in Counts 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, and 20. The judgments of the trial court are otherwise affirmed.

 

Vaughn v. State of Tennessee, No. W2021-00354-CCA-R3-PC  (Tenn. Crim. App. May 23, 2022).  The petitioner, Harold Allen Vaughn, appeals the post-conviction court’s dismissal of his for post-conviction relief, arguing the post-conviction court erred in relying on our supreme court’s decision in Cordarius Maxwell v. State, No. 2018-00318-SC-R11-PC (Tenn. Sept. 3, 2019) (order) and finding his petition procedurally deficient. Upon our review of the record, the applicable law, and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the dismissal.

 

State of Tennessee v. Higgins, No. W2021-00316-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. May 2, 2022). Aggrieved of his Madison County Circuit Court Jury convictions of simple possession of marijuana, possession with intent to deliver not less than one-half ounce of marijuana, possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, and possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony crime of violence, the defendant, Larry Donnell Higgins, Jr., appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the denial of his motion for a mistrial. Because the trial court abused its discretion by denying the motion for mistrial, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.  Dissent: Excerpt: “I agree with the majority’s conclusion that the evidence sufficiently supports the jury’s verdict. However, I respectfully dissent from the majority’s holding that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial.”

 

State of Tennessee v Lemons, No. W2020-01613-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. May 5, 2022). The Appellant, David Ian Lemons, was convicted in the Madison County Circuit Court of eleven drug and weapons offenses, ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B felony. After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective twenty-three-year sentence as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Appellant contends that his effective sentence is excessive because the trial court improperly applied an enhancement factor and improperly ordered consecutive sentencing. The State acknowledges that while the trial court may have partially misapplied an enhancement factor, the Appellant’s twenty-three year sentence is not excessive. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we agree with the State and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Emery, No. W2021-00086-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 18, 2022).  Defendant, Jeremiah Emery, entered open guilty pleas to one count of possession of marijuana with intent to sell (Count 1), one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver (Count 2), one count of possession of drug paraphernalia (Count 3), two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony (Counts 4 and 5), and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm (Count 6). The trial court sentenced Defendant to a total effective sentence of five years in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by misapplying enhancement factors and ordering the maximum sentence for Counts 1 and 2, that the trial court erred in denying a probated sentence for Counts 1 and 2, and that the trial court erred in ordering Defendant to serve the conviction for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony to be served after Counts 1 and 2. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Ernest G. McBrien, No. W2021-00158-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 6, 2022). The defendant, Ernest G. McBrien, appeals the order of the trial court denying his motion to dismiss, revoking his probation, and ordering him to serve his original six-year sentence in confinement. Upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss both the original and amended probation violation warrants against the defendant.

 

State of Tenn. v. Perry, No. W2020-01464-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 6, 2022). The Appellant, Tarrance Jershun Perry, was convicted in the Madison County Circuit Court of rape, a Class B felony, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years to be served at one hundred percent release eligibility. On appeal, the Appellant contends that a constructive amendment of the indictment and a fatal variance occurred when the indictment charged him with rape by force or coercion but the proof at trial showed rape without consent and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Corey Allen Harris, No. W2021-00030-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. March 22, 2022). The Defendant, Corey Allen Harris, was convicted after a jury trial of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and he received an effective eighteen-year sentence. The Defendant filed a motion for a new trial asserting that the evidence was insufficient and that the prosecutor’s argument was so improper as to constitute plain error. On appeal, the Defendant renews the challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and the prosecutor’s closing argument, and he asks for relief based on the omission from the jury instructions of the statutory definition of attempt. Because the jury was not properly instructed on the elements of the offense of attempted second degree murder, we reverse the convictions for attempted second degree murder and employment of a firearm during the commission of attempted second degree murder, and we remand for further proceedings. The aggravated assault conviction is affirmed.

 

Troy Springfield v. State of Tennessee, No. W2021-00462-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. March 16, 2022). The petitioner, Troy Springfield, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

 

State of Tennessee v. Darius Henderson, No. W2020-01725-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. March 4, 2022). Defendant, Darius Henderson, was convicted following a jury trial of one count of theft of property valued over $2,500 but less than $10,000 (Count 1) and one count of evading arrest while operating a vehicle (Count 2). Based on Defendant’s prior Tennessee convictions and a Georgia conviction, the trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range III persistent offender to consecutive sentences of twelve years in Count 1, and six years in Count 2. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range III persistent offender because he had only four prior Tennessee felonies and the State did not submit proof that Defendant’s Georgia conviction qualified as a felony conviction in a foreign jurisdiction. See T.C.A. §40-35-107. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for Defendant to be sentenced as a Range II offender.

 

State of Tennessee v. Stevie Dean, No. W2021-00458-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. March 3, 2022). Defendant, Stevie Dean, was charged with one count of aggravated robbery. Following a trial, a jury convicted Defendant as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to twelve years’ incarceration with an eighty-five percent release eligibility. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

 

State of Tennessee v. Darrell Love, No. W2021-00233-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 16, 2022). Aggrieved of his Madison County Circuit Court jury convictions of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, the defendant, Darrell Love, appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, the trial court’s exclusion of certain evidence, and the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on self-defense. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

State of Tennessee v. Bruce Antoine Cole, No. W2021-00175-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 11, 2022). A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Bruce Antione Cole, of aggravated assault and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of forty-five years in confinement and ordered the defendant to pay $25,474.16 in restitution. On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentencing and its restitution order. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the defendant’s convictions and sentence but remand for a hearing on the matter of restitution.

 

State of Tennessee v. Johnny Jackson, Jr., No. W2021-00208-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 8, 2022). A Madison County grand jury indicted the defendant, Johnny Jackson, Jr., for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault by strangulation, and domestic assault. After a trial, a jury convicted the defendant of aggravated assault by strangulation and domestic assault and acquitted the defendant on the charge of aggravated kidnapping. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed concurrent terms of fifteen years for aggravated assault and eleven months and twenty-nine days for domestic assault to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The trial court also affirmed the total effective fine of $2500 imposed by the jury. On appeal, the defendant contends the trial court erroneously relied on an inapplicable enhancement factor and failed to find any mitigation, and therefore, erred in sentencing the defendant to the maximum term of fifteen years. Additionally, the defendant claims the trial court erred in affirming the fine imposed by the jury without conducting the proper analysis and review. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we conclude the trial abused its discretion in applying one enhancement factor, failing to find any mitigation despite proof of the same in the record, and failing to conduct the proper analysis of the fine imposed by the jury. Therefore, we modify the defendant’s sentence for aggravated assault to thirteen years and remand the matter to the trial court for the limited purpose of properly reviewing the jury imposed fine.

 

Dennis Joshua Cooper v. State of Tennessee, No. W2020-01727-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 2, 2022). Petitioner, Dennis Joshua Cooper, was indicted by the Henderson County Grand Jury in four separate cases for 15 drug-related offenses. Pursuant to two plea agreements, Petitioner pled guilty as charged in exchange for a total effective sentence of 20 years. Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his guilty pleas were not freely or voluntarily entered and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Upon careful review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. However, we remand the case to the post-conviction court for correction of the judgment forms to reflect the sentences as imposed by the trial court.

 

Willie Adams v. Illinois Central Railroad Company, No. W2020-01290-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 19, 2022). Appellee alleges that Appellant abused the discovery process. The trial court agreed, granting Appellee’s motion to exclude Appellant’s expert witnesses and, consequently, granting summary judgment in Appellee’s favor. Because the basis for the imposition of the sanction is unclear and the trial court does not engage in the necessary analysis regarding discovery sanctions, we vacate and remand for further proceedings.

 

Jason Britt v. Richard Jason Usery, et al., No. W2021-00137-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 18, 2022). Although the Plaintiff appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his claims, we dismiss the appeal due to the absence of a final appealable judgment.

 

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.