Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/03/2020
Format: 07/03/2020
State of Tennessee v. Marilda Evon Green
E2018-01287-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The Defendant, Marilda Evon Green, appeals from the Jefferson and Grainger County Circuit Courts’ orders revoking her probation based upon her guilty plea to a separate charge of aggravated statutory rape and reinstating her effective six-year sentence. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by requiring her to serve the balance of her sentence in custody and subsequently denying her motions to reduce the sentence and petitions for early release. Following our review, we affirm.

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/20
State of Tennessee v. Kendall Allison Clark
E2019-00515-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex Pearson

The Defendant, Kendall Allison Clark, pleaded guilty in the Criminal Court for Hamblen County to driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 55- 10-401 (2018). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days suspended to probation after forty-eight hours in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant presents a certified question of law regarding the legality of the traffic stop. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/20
Brandon Blount v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00832-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

Brandon Blount, Petitioner, was convicted of one count of aggravated burglary acting in concert with two or more other persons and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony after a jury trial. He was sentenced to an effective sentence of eleven years. Petitioner’s convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. See State v. Brandon Blount, No. W2015-00747-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 3131355 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 26, 2016), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 26, 2016). Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner appeals, arguing that the post-conviction court improperly denied post-conviction relief. Because we determine that Petitioner has failed to establish that trial counsel was ineffective, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
Ercil K. Gate-Rayford v. Hilton Hall, Jr., Warden
W2019-01987-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Ercil K. Gates-Rayford, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
Patrick Lewis Laforce v. State of Tennessee
E2019-603-CCA-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Petitioner, Patrick Lewis LaForce, appeals as of right from the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s order summarily denying his petition for post-conviction relief as untimely. The State has filed a motion to affirm by memorandum opinion the judgment of the trial court. Following our review, we conclude that an opinion in this case would have no precedential value and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
State of Tennessee v. Todd Alan Schmeling
M2019-00474-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The pro se Defendant, Todd Alan Schmeling, was convicted by a Warren County Circuit Court jury of facilitation of possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, a Class C felony; facilitation of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class E felony; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to an effective term of eight years as a Range II offender in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) his due process rights were violated by his lack of access to updated law books in preparation for trial and appeal; (2) he was improperly prosecuted on the possession of a firearm charge; (3) Lieutenant Mara committed “official misconduct” and “official oppression” by a statement he made during the traffic stop; (4) the trial court erred in denying his motion for production of Lieutenant Mara’s statements; (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for facilitation of possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to deliver; (6) his rights to due process and exculpatory evidence were violated vis-à-vis the testing of the drugs by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”); (7) the State made an improper closing argument; (8) the trial court committed plain error in its jury instruction on possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; (9) the notices of enhanced punishment filed by the State were deficient; and (10) the trial court erred in sentencing him. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
State of Tennessee v. Floyd Pete Lynch
E2019-00195-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Defendant, Floyd Pete Lynch, was convicted by a Hancock County Criminal Court jury of violating the sexual offender registry, a Class E felony.  See T.C.A. § 40-39-208 (2018).  He received a sentence of four years’ confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Hancock County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
State of Tennessee v. Edward Dean
W2018-01363-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, Edward Dean, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a Class C felony. He was sentenced by the trial court as a Range I offender to twelve years at 30% for the attempted second degree murder conviction, ten years at 100% for the employment of a firearm conviction, and six years at 30% for the unlawful possession of a firearm conviction. The trial court ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, for an effective sentence of twenty-eight years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his attempted second degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm convictions and argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement to police, in limiting the testimony of a defense witness physician, in failing to give the jury an instruction on diminished capacity, and in failing to give sufficient weight to mitigating factors in sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments in Counts 1 and 2 but reverse the judgement in Count 3.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
State of Tennessee v. Kevin E. Trent
E2018-02239-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Kevin E. Trent, was convicted in 2015 upon his guilty plea of vehicular homicide by intoxication, a Class B felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-213 (2010).  The Defendant pleaded guilty as a Range I, standard offender and agreed to an eight-year sentence.  The manner of service of his sentence was reserved for the trial court’s determination.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by imposing incarceration rather than an alternative sentence.  We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for the entry of an amended judgment reflecting the sentence of split confinement of time served and the remainder on probation.  Upon remand, the trial court is to determine the appropriate conditions of probation. 

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
John Alan Chapman v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00429-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The petitioner, John Alan Chapman, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Ray Rickman
W2019-00778-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Defendant, Christopher Ray Rickman, pleaded guilty to the offense of possession with intent to deliver .5 grams or more of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance. As a condition of his plea, the Defendant expressly preserved a certified question of law pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, stemming from his denied motion to suppress. After thorough review, we conclude that the certified question does not meet the requirements of Rule 37(b)(2)(A) and State v. Preston, 759 S.W.2d 647 (Tenn. 1988), and, as a result, this court is without jurisdiction to consider the appeal. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Shermond Dewayne Dillard, Jr. - Concur in Part
M2018-02268-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

I join the majority in affirming the defendant’s conviction of aggravated robbery and ten-year sentence, but I write separately to dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the trial court did not err by allowing testimony about the stolen rental car.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Shermond Dewayne Dillard, Jr.
M2018-02268-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

A Davidson County jury convicted the defendant, Shermond Dewayne Dillard, Jr., of aggravated robbery, for which he received a
ten-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court should have granted a new trial based on the admission of irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial testimony and improper closing argument by the State. The defendant also contends the trial court erred in sentencing him. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
James Snipes v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02225-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, James Snipes, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, seeking relief from his conviction of first degree felony murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that he is entitled to a second post-conviction evidentiary hearing due to post-conviction counsel’s deficient performance at the first hearing. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the
post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
Michael Hart v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00019-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Michael Hart, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition requesting DNA analysis of evidence pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
Joshua P. Holt v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01299-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

The pro se Petitioner, Joshua P. Holt, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Nicholas Ryan Flood
M2019-00525-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

A Putnam County grand jury indicted the defendant for possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, and simple possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. After trial, a jury convicted the defendant of all counts. On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from a warrantless search of his girlfriend’s vehicle. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the indictments against the defendant.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Elizabeth Lynn Schmitz
M2019-00624-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

Defendant, Elizabeth Lynn Schmitz, appeals her convictions by a Dickson County jury of attempted theft of property over $500 and hindering a secured creditor. The trial court sentenced Defendant to two-years for hindering a secured creditor and a concurrent term of eleven months and twenty-nine day for the misdemeanor theft, suspended to probation. On appeal, Defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support either conviction when the evidence demonstrated that the subject property of both offenses was her own car. Defendant also claims the trial court gave incomplete instructions to the jury. After a full review, we conclude that Defendant is entitled to relief as to the attempted theft of property conviction because Defendant cannot be convicted of attempted theft of something she owned, and we vacate the conviction as to that count. As to the remaining count of hindering a secured creditor, we confirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
Jawaune Massey v. State of Tennessee
E2019-00616-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge William K. Rogers

The Petitioner, Jawaune Massey, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, one count of possessing twenty-six grams or more of cocaine for resale, one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and one count of maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used or sold and his resulting effective sentence of two consecutive life terms.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the Petitioner’s wearing a stun vest at trial.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Nathan G. Fleming
E2019-00078-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams, P.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

A jury convicted the Defendant, Nathan G. Fleming, of two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of attempted first degree murder, four counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, two counts of carjacking, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery.  The trial court merged various convictions and imposed an effective sentence of sixty-eight years.  On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and the trial court’s imposition of partial consecutive sentences.  We affirm the judgments of the trial court. 

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/20
Christopher Brown v. State of Tennessee - Dissent
W2018-01705-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s opinion, concluding that post-conviction counsel had an actual conflict of interest and granting a new hearing, because I conclude that the issue is waived.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/20
Christopher Brown v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01705-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Christopher Brown, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he challenged his convictions for one count of first degree premeditated murder and three counts of aggravated assault and his effective sentence of life imprisonment plus ten years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that: (1) post-conviction counsel had a conflict of interest that disqualified him from representing the Petitioner at the hearing; (2) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance; and (3) post-conviction counsel was ineffective at the post-conviction hearing. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the Petitioner is entitled to a new hearing based upon post-conviction counsel’s conflict of interest.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Bragg Lampkin
W2019-00885-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of sexual exploitation of a minor via electronic means pursuant to pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970), with the sentence to be determined by the trial court. The trial court denied the Defendant’s request for judicial diversion and sentenced him to four years of supervised probation with thirty days to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in denying diversion because it considered an irrelevant factor and because its factual findings were against the weight of the evidence. He also argues he was entitled to full probation. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s sentencing decisions and remand for correction of the judgment form.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/20
Eddie H. Pittman v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
W2019-01474-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The petitioner, Eddie H. Pittman, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which petition challenged his 2015 Madison County Circuit Court jury conviction of reckless aggravated assault. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/20
Charles A. Guess v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
W2019-01347-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner appeals the summary denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he challenged his convictions for especially aggravated robbery and facilitation of first degree murder. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/20