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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink


Court: TSC


Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Alice B. Lustre, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Kirk Andrews and Edward P. Bailey, Jr., Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellant, the State of Tennessee

Randall E. Reagan and Gerald L. Gulley, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and W. Phillip Reed and Robert W. White, Maryville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellee, Arthur T. Copeland

Judge: WADE

The Defendant, Arthur T. Copeland, was convicted of one count of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The jury found a single aggravating circumstance, that the Defendant previously had been convicted of one or more felonies involving violence to the person, see Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-204(i)(2) (1997), and further found that the aggravating circumstance outweighed the mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, see Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-204(g)(1) (1997). The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the trial court properly excluded expert testimony on eyewitness identification but committed plain error by failing to conduct a hearing pursuant to Momon v. State, 18 S.W.3d 152, 157 (Tenn. 1999), and ordered a remand for a determination of whether the error was harmless. Further, the Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the sentence of death as disproportionate. We granted the State's application for permission to appeal in order to resolve the dispositive issues. We first hold that the trial court erred by prohibiting the Defendant from offering expert testimony regarding eyewitness testimony and overrule State v. Coley, 32 S.W.3d 831 (Tenn. 2000). Because the exclusion of the testimony cannot be classified as harmless under these circumstances, the Defendant must be granted a new trial. Although the trial court failed to conduct a Momon hearing, consideration of that issue is not necessary because of the grant of a new trial. Finally, we conclude that the Court of Criminal Appeals erred by finding that the death sentence was disproportionate; thus the State may choose to seek the death penalty upon remand. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and the cause is remanded for a new trial.


Court: TCA


Robert V. Redding, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tammy Bunnell

Dale Hederick Tuttle, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Crye-Leike Realtors

Regina Morrison Newman and James Wesley Hodges, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, James E. Goodale and Hazel F. Goodale


Plaintiff purchasers sued Defendant sellers, real estate agent, and real estate company alleging intentional fraud and seeking rescission of a contract to purchase real property and punitive damages. The matter was tried by a jury, which awarded Plaintiffs rescission of the contract and assessed punitive damages against Defendant real estate agent. The trial court further awarded Plaintiffs discretionary costs and attorney's fees, which it assessed against Defendant sellers and real estate agent jointly and severally. The jury also determined real estate agent was an independent contractor and that Defendant real estate company was, therefore, not vicariously liable for punitive damages. Plaintiffs and Defendant sellers subsequently entered into a confidential, sealed settlement under which Plaintiffs received a substantial partial refund of the purchase price and retained ownership of the real property. Defendant real estate agent appeals the award of punitive damages and the award of attorney's fees. Appellant additionally asserts the post-trial settlement between Plaintiffs and Defendant sellers resulted in an election of damages as a remedy or, alternately, in accord and satisfaction of the judgment. Plaintiffs crossappeal, asserting the jury verdict finding that Defendant real estate agent was an independent contractor is not supported by the evidence. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TCCA


James F. Logan, Jr., Cleveland, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Bobby Dale Parris

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Steve Bebb, District Attorney General; and Kristie Luffman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Bobby Dale Parris, pleaded guilty to the second degree murder of his wife, Sandy Parris. See T.C.A. section 39-13-210 (2006). After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court sentenced the defendant to serve 20 years in the Department of Correction at 100 percent after finding two enhancement factors and no mitigating factors. See T.C.A. sections 40-35-113 & -114 (2006). On appeal, the defendant claims that the sentence is excessive. Without reaching this issue, we remand this case for sentencing under the 1989 Sentencing Act and for correction of a clerical error in the judgment.


Court: TCCA


Perry Ricky Ray, Pro Se

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee


Petitioner, Perry Ricky Ray, appeals the trial court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his conviction for first degree murder. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


David R. Barrow (at guilty plea and sentencing) and Clayton Whittaker (on appeal), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nicholas Kelly Webster

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee


The Defendant, Nicholas Kelly Webster, pled guilty to especially aggravated burglary and accessory after the fact. The trial court imposed an agreed eight-year sentence, but it denied the Defendant's request for probation or an alternative sentence. The Defendant appeals, contending that the trial court erred when it denied him probation or an alternative sentence. Concluding there exists no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


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