Supreme Court Opinions

Format: 04/18/2019
Format: 04/18/2019
Gregory J. Lammert, ET Al. v. Auto-Owners (Mutual) Insurance Company
M2017-02546-SC-R23-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr.

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has submitted a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 23 regarding the interpretation of two insurance policies: “Under Tennessee law, may an insurer in making an actual cash value payment withhold a portion of repair labor as depreciation when the policy (1) defines actual cash value as ‘the cost to replace damaged property with new property of similar quality and features reduced by the amount of depreciation applicable to the damaged property immediately prior to the loss,’ or (2) states that ‘actual cash value includes a deduction for depreciation?”’ Based on Tennessee law regarding the interpretation of insurance contracts, we conclude that the language in the policies is ambiguous and must be construed in favor of the insured parties. Therefore, we answer the district court’s question in the negative: The insurer may not withhold a portion of repair labor as depreciation.

Supreme Court 04/15/19
Estate of Ella Mae Haire Et Al. v. Shelby J. Webster, Et Al.
E2017-00066-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Clarence E. Pridemore

We granted this appeal to determine whether a person listed as a joint tenant with right of survivorship on checking and savings accounts sufficiently alleged claims for relief against a bank by asserting that the bank removed his name from the accounts without his consent and breached its duty to him as a co-owner of the account by accepting forged signature cards. We conclude that the allegations of the complaint are sufficient to survive the bank’s motion to dismiss because, under Tennessee law: (1) each joint tenant with right of survivorship of a multiple-party account is deemed an owner of the account; (2) all joint tenants have presumptively equal ownership of account funds; (3) a contractual relationship arises between a bank and joint tenants upon the creation of joint tenancy bank accounts; (4) contracts cannot be modified except upon consent of the parties; and (5) no statute affords banks protection from liability for removing a joint tenant’s name from an account without the joint tenant’s consent. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s judgment granting the bank’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

Knox County Supreme Court 03/20/19
Glenn R. Funk v. Scripps Media, Inc., Et Al.
M2017-00256-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

We granted review of this interlocutory appeal arising from a defamation action to address whether the Court of Appeals correctly determined that (1) a showing of malice cannot defeat the fair report privilege and (2) an assertion of the fair report privilege exempts the defendants from part of the protections of Tennessee Code Annotated section 24-1-208, Tennessee’s news media shield law. With respect to the first issue, we conclude that neither actual nor express malice defeats the privilege; the only limitations on the fair report privilege are that a report of an official action or proceeding must be fair and accurate. With respect to the second issue, we conclude that the fair report privilege is a defense based upon a source of information that renders the source of the statements the plaintiff alleges to be defamatory unprotected by Tennessee’s shield law. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the separate grounds stated in this opinion and remand this case to the trial court. 

Davidson County Supreme Court 03/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Jerome Antonio McElrath
W2015-01794-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham


We granted the State’s permission to appeal in this case to determine whether to adopt, as a matter of state law, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135 (2009), and if so, whether the Herring good-faith exception permits introduction of the evidence in this case. A Union City police officer arrested the defendant without a warrant because he was on a list of individuals who had been “barred” from housing authority property. The list in question was maintained by the Union City Police Department. Upon performing a search incident to arrest, the officer seized marijuana from the defendant. Nineteen days later, the same officer arrested the defendant on the same property based on the same list and again seized marijuana from the defendant. It was later discovered that the list was incorrect and that the defendant’s name should have been removed prior to the date of his arrests. The trial court suppressed the evidence in both cases, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. The trial court and the Court of Criminal Appeals based their decisions on Tennessee’s not having yet adopted Herring’s good-faith exception. Upon discretionary review, we adopt the good-faith exception as set forth by Herring but conclude that neither of the defendant’s arrests falls within the good-faith exception. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed
 

Obion County Supreme Court 03/12/19
State of Tennessee v. Jerome Antonio McElrath - Concurring In the suppression of evidence; dissenting from the adoption of an exclusionary rule exception for constitutional violations caused by careless police recordkeeping
W2015-01794-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

A Union City Police Department officer twice arrested and searched Jerome Antonio McElrath because of systemic and long-standing errors in the police department’s records. By stopping and searching McElrath without probable cause based on these errors, the police violated McElrath’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. I disagree with the majority’s adoption of an exception to the exclusionary rule to excuse negligent police recordkeeping. That said, I agree with the majority’s conclusion that the negligence exception does not apply here because of the police department’s systemically flawed recordkeeping process. The majority provides a good roadmap for trial courts to make the fact-intensive determination of whether isolated or systemic negligence caused the police error thus, whether the negligence exception applies. 

Obion County Supreme Court 03/12/19
State of Tennessee v. Jerome Antonio McElrath - Concurring In Part and Dissenting In Part
W2015-01794-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

I write separately in this case because I concur with part of the majority’s analysis and disagree with other parts of it. 

Obion County Supreme Court 03/12/19
Katherine D. Chaney v. Team Technologies, Inc.
E2018-00248-SC-R9-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

The issue in this interlocutory appeal is whether an employer, who did not use an automated external defibrillator (AED) to assist an employee who suffered a non-work related medical emergency, can be liable for workers’ compensation benefits. An employee collapsed at work because of a medical condition unrelated to her employment. The employer knew of the employee’s need for immediate medical assistance. The employer had acquired an AED but did not use it to assist the employee while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical responders. Medical responders assisted the employee, but she suffered a brain injury because of oxygen deprivation. We hold that an injury that is caused by an employer’s failure to provide reasonable medical assistance arises out of and in the course of employment when an employee becomes helpless at work because of illness or other cause unrelated to her employment, the employee needs medical assistance to prevent further injury, the employer knows of the employee’s helplessness, and the employer can provide reasonable medical assistance but does not do so. Here, the employee’s claim did not arise out of her employment because her employer provided reasonable medical assistance and had no statutory or common law duty to use its AED to assist the employee. Therefore, the employer is not liable for workers’ compensation benefits. We reverse the trial court’s denial of the employer’s motion to dismiss and remand to the trial court for an order of dismissal.

Hamblen County Supreme Court 01/31/19
State of Tennessee v. Henry Lee Jones - Concurring
W2015-02210-SC-DDT-DD
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

I concur in the Court’s opinion except for the analysis regarding the proportionality review. In 1997, this Court narrowed the scope of the proportionality review required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 39 13 206(c)(1)(D) by limiting consideration to only those cases in which the death penalty had been sought. State v. Bland, 958 S.W.2d 651, 666 (Tenn. 1997). A majority of this Court reaffirmed this truncated approach in State v. Pruitt, 415 S.W.3d 180, 217 (Tenn. 2013). In Pruitt, I joined Justice William C. Koch, Jr. in dissenting from the Court’s decision to continue following the Bland approach, as it improperly narrowed the proportionality review required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 39 13 206(c)(1)(D). Pruitt, 415 S.W.3d at 230 (Koch and Lee, JJ., concurring and dissenting). We determined that the Court should return to its pre-Bland proportionality analysis by considering “all first degree murder cases in which life imprisonment or a sentence of death has been imposed” and focusing on whether the case under review more closely resembles cases that have resulted in the imposition of the death penalty than those that have not. Id. at 230–31 (Koch and Lee, JJ., concurring and dissenting).

Shelby County Supreme Court 01/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Henry Lee Jones
W2015-02210-SC-DDT-DD
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

In this capital case, a Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Henry Lee Jones, of alternative counts of first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder of Clarence James and alternative counts of first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder of Lillian James. The jury sentenced the Defendant to death on all four counts. As for the two counts related to Mr. James, the jury found the evidence sufficient to support six aggravating circumstances. As for the two counts related to Mrs. James, the jury found the evidence sufficient to support five aggravating circumstances. The trial court merged each of the felony murder convictions into the corresponding premeditated murder convictions and imposed two sentences of death. On direct appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Defendant’s convictions and sentences. On automatic review pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 39-13-206(a)(1), we now address the following issues: (1) Whether the Defendant was unconstitutionally denied the right to counsel; (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in admitting into evidence the former testimony of Tevarus Young; (3) whether the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions; and (4) whether the trial court erred in denying the appointment of a mitigation expert. We also conduct our mandatory review of the Defendant’s death sentences. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions and death sentences. As to the remaining issues raised by the Defendant, we agree with the Court of Criminal Appeals’ conclusions and attach as an appendix to this opinion the relevant portions of that court’s decision.

Shelby County Supreme Court 01/30/19
Christopher Batey v. Deliver This, Inc., Et Al.
M2018-00419-SC-WCO-WC
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Wyatt

In this workers’ compensation case, Christopher Batey (“Employee”) filed a Petition for Benefit Determination after he sustained a back injury while working for Deliver This, Inc. (“Employer”). The trial court determined that Employee was entitled to 275 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-242(a)(2). On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding that the trial court erred in “defining an employee’s burden of proof under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-242(a)(2) and in defining the phrase ‘employee’s pre-injury occupation’ as used in subsection 242(a)(2)(B)” but concluding that the errors were harmless under the circumstances presented. Batey v. Deliver This, Inc., No. 2016-05-0666, 2018 WL 805490, at *7 (Tenn. Workers’ Comp. App. Bd. Feb. 6, 2018). Employer and its insurer, Auto-Owners Insurance Company, have appealed. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, section 2, this Court directed that the appeal not be referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Panel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and adopt its opinion in its entirety as set forth in the attached Appendix.

Supreme Court 01/29/19
Dialysis Clinic, Inc. v. Kevin Medley, Et Al
M2017-01352-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

In this interlocutory appeal, we address whether the attorney-client privilege protects communications between a corporation’s legal counsel and a third-party nonemployee of the corporation. After acquiring four commercial properties, a corporation filed unlawful detainer actions against the properties’ tenants. The tenants subpoenaed documents from a property management company hired by the corporation to manage its properties. The corporation and the property management company objected to producing documents containing communications between the corporation’s legal counsel and the property management company, arguing that the attorney-client privilege protected the documents. The trial court held that the documents were protected because the attorney-client privilege extended to the property management company as an agent of the corporation. We hold that the attorney-client privilege applies to communications between an entity’s legal counsel and a third-party nonemployee of the entity if the nonemployee is the functional equivalent of the entity’s employee and when the communications relate to the subject matter of legal counsel’s representation of the entity and the communications were made with the intention that they would be kept confidential. Applying this framework, we hold that the property management company was the functional equivalent of an employee of the corporation, that the communications related to the subject matter of counsel’s representation of the corporation, and that the communications were made with the intention that they would be kept confidential. We affirm the ruling of the trial court and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

Davidson County Supreme Court 01/25/19
Gerald Stanley Green v. Board of Professional Responsibility Of The Supreme Court Of Tennessee
W2017-02358-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

This direct appeal involves a lawyer disciplinary proceeding against a Memphis attorney arising from two client complaints and the lawyer’s failure to satisfy fully Mississippi’s requirements for pro hac vice admission before representing a criminal defendant in Mississippi. A Hearing Panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility (“Hearing Panel”) determined that the lawyer had violated four provisions of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct (“RPC”). After consulting the ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions (“ABA Standards”) and considering the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, including the lawyer’s seventeen prior disciplinary sanctions, the Hearing Panel suspended the lawyer for six months and directed thirty days of the sanction to be served on active suspension with the remainder to be served on probation with conditions, including a practice monitor, restitution, and continuing legal education focused on law office management, client communication, and client relations. The lawyer appealed the Hearing Panel’s judgment, and the Chancery Court for Shelby County affirmed. The lawyer then appealed to this Court. After carefully reviewing the record, we affirm.

Shelby County Supreme Court 01/24/19
Individual Healthcare Specialists, Inc. v. Bluecross Blueshield of Tennessee, Inc.
M2015-02524-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle

We granted permission to appeal in this breach-of-contract case to address the use of extrinsic evidence in the interpretation of contracts. Tennessee judges have long used extrinsic evidence of the context and circumstances at the time the parties entered into the contract to facilitate interpretation of contractual terms in accord with the parties’ intent. However, the written words are the lodestar of contract interpretation, and Tennessee courts have rejected firmly any notion that courts may disregard the written text and make a new contract for parties under the guise of interpretation. Tennessee has consistently enforced the parol evidence rule to prohibit the use of evidence of precontract negotiations in order to vary, contradict, or supplement the contractual terms of a fully integrated agreement. Thus, in interpreting a fully integrated contract, extrinsic evidence may be used to put the written terms of the contract into context, but it may not be used to vary, contradict, or supplement the contractual terms in violation of the parol evidence rule. As applied to this case, we hold that the defendant insurance company did not breach the parties’ agreement by modifying renewal commission rates on existing policies, but it did breach the agreement by refusing to pay commissions to the plaintiff agency after their agreement was terminated. In addition, because the indemnity provision in the parties’ agreement does not specifically authorize fee shifting in a suit between the two contracting parties, we hold that the plaintiff agency is not entitled to an award of attorney fees. We further conclude that the alleged systemic commission underpayments in this case were not inherently undiscoverable under any definition of that term. Consequently, even if we were to conclude that the discovery rule applies when the contractual breach is “inherently undiscoverable,” the plaintiff agency’s claim for any underpayments would not qualify under the facts of this case. The case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Supreme Court 01/18/19
State of Tennessee v. David Scott Hall - Dissenting
M2015-02402-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page and Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins, joins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

I maintain that the Court of Criminal Appeals properly affirmed the defendant’s conviction for attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.

Davidson County Supreme Court 01/07/19
State of Tennessee v. David Scott Hall
M2015-02402-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

We granted permission to appeal in this case to assess the sufficiency of the evidence for a conviction for attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, i.e., attempted production of child pornography, in the wake of our decision in State v. Whited, 506 S.W.3d 416 (Tenn. 2016). The defendant hid a video camera in the minor victim’s bedroom, aimed to record the area of her bedroom where she normally changed clothes. Soon after the victim returned to her bedroom, fully clothed, she noticed the camera and turned it off. Consequently, the resulting video did not depict the minor in any degree of nudity. The defendant was charged with attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and was convicted of that offense after a bench trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, and we granted permission to appeal. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that he attempted to produce material that would include a depiction of a minor in a “lascivious exhibition” of her private body areas, as required under Tennessee’s child sexual exploitation statutes and construed in Whited. We agree. The evidence presented at trial shows at most that the defendant intended to produce material that would include images of the minor victim engaged in everyday activities ordinarily performed in the nude, which were deemed insufficient in Whited to constitute a “lascivious exhibition” under Tennessee’s child sexual exploitation statutes. Consequently, we hold that the evidence, even when viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict, is insufficient to support an inference that the defendant intended to record, and believed he would record, the minor victim engaged in a lascivious exhibition of her private body areas. Accordingly, we reverse the defendant’s conviction.

Davidson County Supreme Court 01/07/19
Frederick Copeland v. Healthsouth/Methodist Rehabilitation Hospital, LP Et Al.
W2016-02499-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd

A rehabilitation hospital hired a medical transportation company to take a patient to a doctor’s appointment. Before the transport, the company’s driver required the patient to sign an agreement that, in part, released the company from any liability. After the appointment, the patient fell as he was getting into the company’s van. He sued the medical transportation company, which moved to dismiss based on the exculpatory provisions of the agreement. The trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled that the exculpatory provisions were enforceable. We hold that to determine the enforceability of an exculpatory agreement, a court should consider the totality of the circumstances and weigh these non-exclusive factors: (1) relative bargaining power of the parties; (2) clarity of the exculpatory language, which should be clear, unambiguous, and unmistakable about what the party who signs the agreement is giving up; and (3) public policy and public interest implications. We hold that the exculpatory provisions in the agreement between the medical transportation company and the patient are unenforceable based on the unequal bargaining power of the parties, the overly broad and unclear language of the agreement, and the important public interest implicated by the agreement. Thus, the exculpatory language in the agreement does not, as a matter of law, bar the patient’s claim. We vacate the judgment of the trial court, reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings. 

Shelby County Supreme Court 12/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Westley A. Albright - Dissenting
M2016-01217-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

Westley Albright, with the trial court’s consent, entered a nolo contendere plea to the charge of solicitation of a minor without being required to admit his guilt. The trial court granted Albright judicial diversion with one year of probation. Albright complied with all the stated conditions of his diversion. He attended and participated in all scheduled treatment group meetings, paid for sex offender treatment, and underwent an assessment. Albright even took a lie-detector test. Yet the trial court revoked Albright’s diversion, convicted him of solicitation of a minor, and extended his probation by six months, because of his noncompliance with an unstated condition of diversion. This unstated condition was that Albright had to admit during treatment that he was guilty of solicitation. Because he would not or could not make this forced admission, Albright’s therapist discharged him from the treatment program, and the trial court revoked his diversion.

Dickson County Supreme Court 12/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Westley A. Albright
M2016-01217-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

The Defendant, Westley A. Albright, pled nolo contendere to one count of solicitation of a minor, a Class E felony, and was placed on judicial diversion, with a one-year probationary term. As part of his plea-agreement, the Defendant was required to register as a sex offender and to participate in sex offender treatment. After the Defendant was discharged from his treatment program for noncompliance, the Defendant’s probation officer filed a Diversion Violation Report. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s diversion, adjudicated the Defendant guilty, extended the Defendant’s probation by six months, and ordered the Defendant to attend and complete sex offender therapy. The Defendant appealed, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. We granted the Defendant’s application for permission to appeal in order to determine whether the Defendant’s due process rights were violated because he was not specifically informed in conjunction with his nolo contendere plea that his judicial diversion could be revoked if he refused to admit certain facts during his sex offender treatment. We hold that due process does not require a sex offender placed on judicial diversion with a probationary period to be informed specifically in conjunction with his plea that his judicial diversion and probation may be revoked if he is discharged from sex offender treatment due to his refusal to acknowledge that he committed the elements of the offense to which he pled. Accordingly, we affirm the courts below.   

Dickson County Supreme Court 12/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan David Patterson
M2016-01716-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

We granted this appeal to determine what showing, if any, a defendant must make to prevail on a motion for reduction of sentence under Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, where the defendant pleaded guilty without an agreement as to sentencing, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(B). The Court of Criminal Appeals held that a defendant must present post-sentencing information or developments warranting a reduction of sentence to prevail on a Rule 35 motion. We disagree and limit this standard to Rule 35 motions seeking reduction of specific sentences imposed in exchange for guilty pleas, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C). Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and reinstate the trial court’s judgment granting the defendant’s Rule 35 motion and reducing his aggregate sentence. 

Putnam County Supreme Court 12/10/18
Cyntoia Brown v. Carolyn Jordan
M2018-01415-SC-R23-CO
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Julia Smith Gibbons

We accepted certification of a question of law from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that requires us to determine if a defendant convicted of first-degree murder committed on or after July 1, 1995, and sentenced to life in prison under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-202(c)(3) will become eligible for release, and if so, after how many years. We conclude that a defendant so convicted and sentenced to life in prison under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-202(c)(3) may be released, at the earliest, after fifty-one years of imprisonment.

Supreme Court 12/06/18
Thomas F. Mabry v. Board of Professional Responsibility
E2018-00204-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

Respondent attorney filed a notice with this Court that he was unable to respond to or defend against a disciplinary complaint because he suffered from a disability by reason of a mental illness. Following a formal hearing, a hearing panel concluded that the respondent attorney was not incapacitated from responding to or defending against the complaint against him. Upon its review, the chancery court reached the same conclusion as the hearing panel. The respondent attorney has now filed a direct appeal to this Court. We agree with the hearing panel and chancery court that the attorney has not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that he lacked the capacity, by reason of mental illness, to respond to or defend against his disciplinary complaint.  

Knox County Supreme Court 12/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Jimmy Williams
W2016-00946-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

We accepted this appeal to determine whether a notice that the State intended to seek enhanced sentencing in one case is sufficient to provide notice that the State intended to seek enhanced sentencing in a subsequent unrelated case involving the same defendant. The defendant, Jimmy Williams, was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced as a career offender to serve fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. At trial, the defendant unsuccessfully objected to his classification as a career offender based on the State’s failure to file a timely notice of its intent to seek enhanced sentencing, and the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the trial court’s ruling. He now appeals the sentencing issue and also argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. We hold that the State must file a timely and proper notice in each case for which it intends to seek enhanced punishment. Consequently, the defendant in this case did not receive proper notice of the State’s intention, and therefore, the trial court should have sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender. However, the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction; therefore, we affirm the defendant’s judgment of conviction for aggravated assault but modify his sentence and remand for entry of a corrected judgment form in accordance with this opinion. 

Shelby County Supreme Court 10/12/18
Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, ET Al. v. Tony Parker, Et Al. - Dissenting
M2018-01385-SC-RDO-CV
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle
The Petitioners, who have been sentenced to death, contend that the State's recently adopted lethal injection protocol violates their federal and state constitutional rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. On this important issue, the Petitioners are entitled to a fair and meaningful opportunity to be heard at trial and on appeal without regard to 1) the constitutionality of other lethal injection protocols the State has no plans to use; 2) the execution dates previously set by this Court for Petitioners Billy Ray Irick (already executed), Edmund Zagorksi, and David Earl Miller and 3) the length of the Petitioners' briefs or the extra minutes granted for oral argument.
 
Davidson County Supreme Court 10/08/18
Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, ET Al. v. Tony Parker, Et Al.
M2018-01385-SC-RDO-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle

This appeal represents the third time, each after a trial on the merits, that we have addressed the facial constitutionality of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol. In both prior appeals, we upheld the particular protocol at issue. In this most recent litigation, the death-sentenced inmates challenge Tennessee’s current three-drug protocol, which calls for the administration of midazolam followed by vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The trial court dismissed the inmates’ complaint for declaratory judgment. This Court, upon its own motion, assumed jurisdiction over the appeal. After our review of the record and applicable authority, we conclude that the inmates failed to carry their burden of showing availability of their proposed alternative method of execution—a onedrug protocol using pentobarbital—as required under current federal and Tennessee law.  For this reason, we hold that the inmates failed to establish that the three-drug protocol constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution or article I, section 16 of the Tennessee Constitution. This holding renders moot the majority of the other issues before us. The expedited appellate procedure has not denied the inmates due process, and they are not entitled to relief on their remaining issues. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Supreme Court 10/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Charlotte Lynn Frazier And Andrea Parks
M2016-02134-SC-R11-CD
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Burch

The question in this appeal is whether the courts below erred by holding that evidence seized from the defendants’ residences in the 19th Judicial District of Tennessee should be suppressed because the warrants were signed by a Circuit Court Judge of the 23rd Judicial District of Tennessee. We hold that, in the absence of interchange, designation, appointment, or other lawful means, a circuit court judge in Tennessee lacks jurisdiction to issue search warrants for property located outside the judge’s statutorily assigned judicial district. Nothing in the record on appeal establishes that the 23rd Judicial District Circuit Court Judge obtained jurisdiction to issue search warrants for property in the 19th Judicial District by interchange, designation, appointment, or other lawful means. As a result, the courts below correctly held that the 23rd Judicial District Circuit Court Judge lacked authority to issue the search warrants, and that, as a result, the searches were constitutionally invalid. Furthermore, although the issue was not raised in the trial court, in the exercise of our supervisory authority, we have considered the State’s argument that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies in these circumstances and conclude that it does not. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal
Appeals, which upheld the trial court’s order granting the defendants’ motions to suppress.

Dickson County Supreme Court 09/26/18