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TODAY'S OPINIONS
Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database or to obtain a text version of each opinion, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at the TBA's Membership Central.

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You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. 2) Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion.

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARK ANTHONY FOULK
With Dissenting Opinion


Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Perry Stout, Johnson City, Tennessee, (at trial); and Kristi M. Davis, Knoxville, Tennessee, (on appeal) for the appellant, Mark Anthony Foulk.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The Defendant, Mark Anthony Foulk, was convicted by a jury of: one count of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; one count of vandalism in the amount of $500 or less and one count of driving under the influence, both Class A misdemeanors; one count of speeding and one count of failure to obey a traffic control device, both Class C misdemeanors. He was sentenced to an effective term of eighteen years in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence at trial was insufficient to establish his identity as the perpetrator of the vandalism, aggravated burglary, or aggravated robbery, and was otherwise insufficient to prove the elements of aggravated robbery; (2) the trial court erroneously instructed the jury on the elements of aggravated burglary; (3) he was effectively denied his right to a jury trial; (4) the court improperly instructed the jury that a certain State's witness, Detective Dale Quillen, was an expert on gunshot wounds and stippling; (5) the court improperly enhanced his sentences for aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery; and (6) the court improperly ordered consecutive sentences. We agree with the Defendant that the evidence at trial was insufficient to convict him of aggravated robbery, and accordingly modify this conviction to the lesser included offense of robbery. We also conclude that the trial court improperly enhanced the Defendant's sentences and failed to make the required findings to impose consecutive sentences. We conclude that the Defendant's other points of error lack merit. The case is remanded to the trial court for resentencing.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/foulkm_010908.pdf

THOMAS dissenting
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/foulkm_DIS_010908.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KENDRELL GOODWIN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Ardena J. Garth, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Kendrell Goodwin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Elizabeth B. Marney, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; Lance Poe, Special Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

In 2004, the Defendant, Kendrell Goodwin, pled guilty to one count of possession of a dangerous weapon, one count of domestic aggravated assault, and one count of failure to appear. The trial court sentenced him to an effective four-year sentence, to be served on probation after a period of confinement. In 2005, the trial court revoked the Defendant's probation and ordered him to serve 120 days, with the balance of the sentence to be served on community corrections. In 2006, a probation violation report was filed based upon a new arrest and conviction. The trial court revoked the Defendant's community corrections sentence, and the Defendant appeals, contending that there was no evidence that he willfully violated the conditions of his sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/goodwink_010908.pdf


CHRISTOPHER HATCHER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Patrick E. Stegall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Hatcher.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Scot Bearup, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Christopher Hatcher, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree felony murder, attempted first degree murder, and reckless endangerment. He argues that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/hatcherc_010908.pdf


FLOYD LEON HYATTE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Marshall A. Raines, Jr., Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, Floyd Leon Hyatte.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany, Assistant Attorney General; and J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The Petitioner, Floyd Leon Hyatte, appeals the Rhea County Circuit Court's denial of post-conviction relief. In 1994, the Petitioner was convicted by a jury of first degree murder and, thereafter, sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he was denied his fundamental right to testify and denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has not shown that he is entitled to relief. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/hyattef_010908.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CEASAR JOHNSON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Marvin E. Ballin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ceasar Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mary W. François, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Rachel Newton and Damon Griffin, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Ceasar Johnson,1 of two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of attempted voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to four and a half years on each of the voluntary manslaughter convictions and three years on the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction to be served consecutively in the county workhouse, for an effective term of twelve years. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in denying judicial diversion, probation, or other alternative sentence; and (3) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/johnsonc_010908.pdf


THOMAS JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Thomas Johnson, Whiteville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: COOPER

In 2002, the Petitioner, Thomas Johnson, was convicted of second degree murder. In 2007, he filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as untimely. On appeal, the Petitioner claims that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because his case falls within an exception to the statute of limitations period. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/johnsont_010908.pdf


BENNY RAY MITCHELL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Derreck Whitson, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Benny Ray Mitchell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Al Schmutzer, Jr., District Attorney General and Amanda Inman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Benny Ray Mitchell, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of post-conviction relief. On appeal, Petitioner argues that the trial court improperly denied post-conviction relief because he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. We determine that the post-conviction court's denial of the petition was proper because Petitioner failed to prove that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Consequently, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/mitchellb_010908.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. PHILLIP DOUGLAS SEALS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Thomas Marshall, Jr. Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Phillip Douglas Seals.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; James N. Ramsey, District Attorney General and Sandra Donaghy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Phillip Douglas Seals, was indicted by the Anderson County Grand Jury for two counts of first degree murder and two counts of felony murder. After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of all four counts. The trial court merged the felony murder convictions into the two convictions for premeditated first degree murder and imposed concurrent life sentences on Appellant for the convictions. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant seeks review of the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to support Appellant's convictions; (2) whether the trial court properly instructed the jury; (3) whether the trial court erred by prohibiting Dr. Bernet to testify about the effect of Appellant's genetic predisposition to stress on his ability to premeditate; and (4) whether the trial court erred by refusing to grant a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence that contradicted the trial testimony of two of the State's witnesses. After a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence is sufficient to support Appellant's convictions, the trial court properly instructed the jury, the trial court properly excluded unreliable scientific evidence, and the trial court did not err by refusing to grant a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence when Appellant failed to establish due diligence in procuring the new evidence. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/sealsp_010908.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legislative News
Legal News
Politics
Passages
Upcoming
TBA Member Services

Legislative News
Ramsey lays out forecast for judicial selection
Meeting with reporters Thursday, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey cited the judicial selection process as an issue that will be at the forefront of the upcoming legislative session. Ramsey told the gathering that he expects that a method will be put in place this year that falls somewhere in between last year's proposal and the direct election of judges without a retention vote.
Read more in the Nashville Post
General Assembly launches web site update
The Tennessee General Assembly's new website made its debut today. The Nashville Post reports the state spent $52,000 to upgrade the site, which hadn't had a major upgrade since 1999.
Visit the web site now
Legal News
Missing attorney surfaces in Arizona
The Music Row attorney missing since Nov. 19 has surfaced in Arizona, where he checked into a medical facility for psychological evaluation, Metro Police said Thursday. Bill Grothe was reported missing by his wife on Nov. 19, but after police spent weeks searching for him, he was located in a Montana motel.
Read more in the City Paper
Politics
Nominating process causing rift in GOP
GOP state lawmakers' efforts to open up the nomination process for state constitutional officers has turned into a stew of intrigue, generating confusion and an apparent rift among House and Senate members over at least one of the positions, the Tennessean reports.
Read more in the Tennessean
Passages
Services Saturday for Cleveland attorney
Cleveland attorney and former Bowater Southern Paper general counsel Robert Lee Wright died at his home on Tuesday. He was 89. A native of Putnam County, the Vanderbilt Law School graduate had resided in Cleveland for 57 years where he was active in a number of community organizations. Visitation will be held on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon at the Hooper Huddleston and Horner Funeral Home in Cookeville, with a graveside service to follow at 12:30 p.m. at Algood Cemetery.
More information is available from Grissom Funeral Home
Upcoming
Civil rights attorney Morris Dees to speak in Chattanooga
Civil Rights attorney Morris Dees will deliver the keynote address for The Unity Group's 39th annual MLK Week Celebration on Monday, Jan. 19. The event will be at the Chattanooga's Tivoli Theatre following a memorial parade from The Olivet Baptist Church to the theater.
Learn more about the event on the Chattanoogan.com
TBA Member Services
Program offers savings on auto insurance
See how being a member of the TBA could help you save 8 percent on car insurance. GEICO offers 24-hour sales, service and claims. Call GEICO at (800) 368-2734
or get an online rate quote

 
 
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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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