Criminal Cases – Opinions Released in Calendar Year 2023
Style: State of Tennessee v. Joseph Gevedon
TSC Docket Number: M2020-00359-SC-R11-CD
Date of TSC Opinion: June 8, 2023
TSC Summary of the Opinion:
A trial court ordered a defendant to pay a set amount of criminal restitution but did not state payment terms or consider the defendant’s ability to pay. The Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the appeal, ruling the restitution order was not a final order because it] did not include payment terms. We hold the restitution order was a final order even though it did not include payment terms. See State v. Cavin, No. E2020-01333-SC-R11-CD, ___ S.W.3d ____, 2023 WL _________ (Tenn. ______, 2023). The date for payment of the restitution was, by default, the expiration of the defendant’s sentence based on Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-304(g). The trial court erred by failing to consider the defendant’s financial resources and ability to pay when setting the amount of restitution as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-304(d). We reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals, vacate the trial court’s restitution order, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Concurring Opinion Summary:
I concur in the Court’s judgment reversing the Court of Criminal Appeals, and I agree with much of the majority opinion’s analysis, including its determination that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to consider Joseph Gevedon’s ability to pay when setting the amount of restitution. FN1 I also agree with the majority’s conclusion that the restitution order here was final and appealable, but I reach that conclusion by way of a slightly different analysis. I write separately to explain how my reasoning differs from that of the majority. While the majority asks whether the trial court’s judgment satisfied the statutory requirements for restitution orders, I would focus instead on whether the record shows that the trial court thought it was finished with the case. In my view, the restitution order here was final because nothing in the record or on the face of the order suggests that the trial court had any intention of setting the time for payment, not because the trial court did everything it was supposed to do. FN 1 The majority goes a step further and also concludes that the amount of restitution the trial court imposed was “distinctly unreasonable.” I would not reach that issue because it is not necessary to resolve this appeal.
Link to Court of Appeals Opinion: https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/gevedon_joseph-_filed_opn.pdf
Summary by the Court of Appeals:
The Defendant-Appellant, Joseph Gevedon, pleaded guilty to two counts of driving under the influence and to one count each of leaving the scene of an accident, violation of the financial responsibility law, and simple possession of marijuana. He agreed to serve an effective sentence of three consecutive terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days, with ninety-six hours in confinement and the remainder on probation. He also agreed to a special condition that a restitution hearing would be held at a later time. A violation of probation warrant was issued before the restitution hearing was held, and following a hearing, the trial court found that the Defendant violated the terms of his probation, revoked his probation, and ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement and to pay $30,490.76 as restitution. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s order requiring him to serve his sentence in confinement and its restitution order. After review, we conclude that we are without jurisdiction to consider the merits of this appeal.
Order from TSC: State of Tennessee v. Gevedon
Issues Considered in the Appeal:
1. Whether a trial court’s judgment is final for purposes of Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure when the trial court orders restitution pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-304 but does not specify a payment schedule for restitution.
2. Whether the trial court, in this case, abused its discretion by ordering the defendant to pay $30,490.76 in restitution without considering the defendant’s future ability to pay, after revoking the defendant’s probation and ordering him to serve three consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement.
3. Whether the trial court erred by converting the judgment ordering restitution into a civil judgment without following the process prescribed by Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-304(h).
Permission to Appeal Granted: March 24, 2022
Appellants’ Briefs Filed: May 10, 2022
Appellees’ Briefs Filed: June 6, 2022
Appellants’ Reply Brief Filed:
Appellees’ Reply Brief Filed:
Amicus Briefs Permitted:
Oral Argument Date: September 7, 2022
Link to Oral Argument Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUh_KgJhz8s