Opinion FlashSeptember 26, 2003
Volume 9 Number 175
Following this index are summaries of each case, including its name, first paragraph, author's name, and the names of attorneys for the parties of each opinion.This Issue (IN THIS ORDER):
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Howard H. Vogel
ROCKY D. HITSON v. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION Court:TCA Attorneys: Rocky D. Hitson, Pikeville, Tennessee, Pro Se. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, and Arthur Crownover II, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Correction. Judge: KOCH First Paragraph: This appeal involves a dispute between a prisoner and the Department of Correction regarding a disciplinary hearing held at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City. The prisoner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Davidson County alleging that he had been substantially prejudiced by the Department's failure to follow its disciplinary rules. The trial court, relying on Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S. Ct. 2293 (1995), granted the Department's Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motion and dismissed the petition. The petitioner has appealed. We have determined that the trial court's order should be vacated and remanded for further consideration in light of Willis v. Tennessee Dep't of Corr., ___ S.W.3d ___, 2003 WL 22019138 (Tenn. Aug. 27, 2003). http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/hitsonrd.wpd
IN RE: MARTHA BLANKS MAXWELL, CONSERVATORSHIP Court:TCA Attorneys: Thomas O. Bratcher, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daisy Maxwell. Mary M. Little, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Martha Blanks Maxwell. Judge: COTTRELL First Paragraph: The niece of an elderly woman who suffered a stroke, followed by memory loss and confusion, petitioned the court to be appointed as her aunt's conservator. The trial court granted the petition as well as the conservator's plan to have her aunt moved to an assisted living environment. There, the woman's condition improved, and the guardian ad litem moved the court to consider whether it was advisable to revoke the conservatorship and allow her to return to her own home. After a hearing, the court terminated the conservatorship. The former conservator appeals, and we affirm. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/maxwellm.wpd
DENICIA GAY BULLION WILLS v. RUSSELL BOYD WILLS Court:TCA Attorneys: Joseph Y. Longmire, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Russell Boyd Wills. Paul A. Rutherford, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Denicia Gay Bullion Wills. Judge: FARMER First Paragraph: This case involves an appeal from an order of the trial court modifying the father's child support obligation and denying the father's request for change of custody. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/willsdeniciag.wpd
RITA DAVIS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE Court:TCCA Attorneys: John H. Richardson, Jr., Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rita Davis. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; William Michael McCown, District Attorney General; Weakley E. Bernard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee. Judge: SMITH First Paragraph: Petitioner, Rita Davis, appeals the trial court's denial of her petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner entered an open plea of guilty to felony failure to appear, a charge apparently stemming from another case in which Petitioner was charged with possession of a schedule II narcotic for resale, a Class B felony. Petitioner was convicted by a jury on the drug possession charge, and on August 18, 1999, she was sentenced on both convictions. Petitioner filed a pro se petition for relief from her conviction and sentence in the failure to appear case. The trial court denied post- conviction relief, but granted a delayed appeal. Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed Petitioner's sentence, but reversed the denial of post-conviction relief, remanding the case for dismissal of the petition without prejudice. Petitioner filed another post-conviction petition, alleging that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that her plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the petition. In this direct appeal, Petitioner challenges the trial court's denial of her petition. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/davisrita.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM PAUL EBLEN Court:TCCA Attorneys: Mike Whalen, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Paul Eblen. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Thomas E. Williams, III, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Scott Green, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: WELLES First Paragraph: The Defendant, William Paul Eblen, was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two concurrent terms of twenty-four years for the rapes, and to a concurrent term of eleven years for the kidnapping, all to be served in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence; alleges that the prosecutor committed reversible misconduct during closing argument; and complains that the trial court erred in overruling his petition for writ of error coram nobis. We affirm the judgments of the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/eblenwp.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT FAULKNER Court:TCCA Attorneys: Robert C. Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Faulkner. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Gill Geldreich, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General, and Phillip Gerald Harris and Jennifer Nichols, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: WOODALL First Paragraph: Defendant Robert Faulkner appeals as of right his conviction for first-degree murder and resultant sentence of death arising from the January 1999, murder of his wife, Shirley Faulkner. A Shelby County jury convicted Defendant of first-degree premeditated murder. Following a separate sentencing hearing, the jury found the proof supported one aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt, i.e., the defendant had been previously convicted of one or more violent felonies, Tenn. Code Ann. S 39-13-204(i)(2), determined that the aggravating circumstance outweighed any mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, and sentenced the Defendant to death. The trial court approved the sentencing verdict. Defendant appeals, presenting for our review the following issues: (1) the trial court improperly excluded testimony regarding the Defendant's diminished capacity; (2) the trial court improperly permitted the introduction of numerous gruesome photographs of the homicide victim; (3) the trial court improperly instructed the jury; (4) the indictment failed to charge a capital offense; (5) the death penalty violates treaties which have been ratified by the United States, and violates established international law; (6) the Tennessee death penalty sentencing statute and the imposition of death are unconstitutional; and (7) the criteria of Tenn. Code Ann. S 39-13-206(c)(1) have not been satisfied in this case. After review, we find no error of law requiring reversal. Accordingly, we affirm the Defendant's conviction for first-degree murder and the jury's imposition of the sentence of death in this case. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/faulkn.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. AARON BLAKE FRANZ Court:TCCA Attorneys: Tony L. Maples, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Aaron Blake Franz. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Helena Walton Yarbrough, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Tom Jackson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: OGLE First Paragraph: After several opportunities to comply with the conditions of his probation, the trial court ordered the appellant, Aaron Blake Franz, to serve thirty months in confinement, the original sentence imposed for the appellant's burglary conviction. On appeal, the appellant argues that the trial court was without jurisdiction to revoke his probation because the revocation warrant was filed after the first extension of the probationary period expired. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/franzab.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT NEWELL RODGERS Court:TCCA Attorneys: Shawn Graham, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Newell Rodgers. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Thomas E. Williams, III, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; Edward P. Bailey, Jr. and Kirk Andrews, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: WELLES First Paragraph: The Defendant, Robert Newell Rodgers, was indicted by the Blount County Grand Jury for one count of robbery and one count of assault. Following a bench trial, the Defendant was convicted of robbery, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. S 39-13-401(b). The trial court dismissed the assault charge. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by finding him guilty of robbery as opposed to theft and assault. We vacate the Defendant's conviction for robbery and modify the judgment to reflect convictions for theft and assault. The case is remanded to the trial court for entry of new judgments and for sentencing for the theft and assault convictions. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/rodgersrn.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SHAWN MICHAEL WARD ORDER Court:TCCA Judge: SMITH First Paragraph: The appellant, Shawn Michael Ward, entered guilty pleas to numerous burglary and theft charges. The parties agreed that the question of sentencing would be left entirely to the trial court. The trial court ordered some of the numerous sentences to run concurrently and others consecutively for an effective sentence of 21.6 years as a Range II multiple offender. In this appeal the appellant contends his sentence is excessive. Because we find that the trial judge considered appropriate enhancing and mitigating factors and that consecutive sentencing is appropriate, we affirm the judgments of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/wardshawn_ord.wpd
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