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Burnett v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 22, 2014

TERRANCE B. BURNETT
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

Assigned on Briefs July 8, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lauderdale County No. 6484 Honorable Joe H. Walker, III, Judge

Terrance B. Burnett, pro se, Whiteville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Mark E. Davidson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams, J., joined. Jerry L. Smith, J., Not Participating.

OPINION

Camille R. McMullen, Judge

In the Petitioner's appeal from the denial of his first petition for post-conviction relief, the Tennessee Supreme Court summarized the facts and procedural history of the Petitioner's case as follows:

On October 6, 1997, [the Petitioner] was indicted on two counts of felony murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, one count of especially aggravated burglary, and one count of aggravated assault. The trial court appointed counsel to represent [the Petitioner], and the State filed a Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty. On January 22, 1999, as a result of negotiations with the State and the advice of counsel, [the Petitioner] pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, and one count of especially aggravated burglary. In exchange for his pleas, the trial court sentenced [the Petitioner] to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, twenty years, and eight years, respectively.
On January 21, 2000, [the Petitioner] filed a petition for post-conviction relief. He alleged: (1) that his pleas were unlawfully induced or involuntarily entered without an understanding of the nature and consequences of the pleas; (2) that he did not receive the effective assistance of counsel; and (3) "other grounds" not included in the petition but provided in a memorandum attached thereto. This memorandum is as follows:
January 22, 1999, the last day before the trial, the [Petitioner]'s counsel and mitigation specialist visited the [the Petitioner] at the Lauderdale County, Tennessee jail with a TV and video cassette recorder machine and played a tape of the 20/20 special he recorded the night before January 22. It was a special of an inmate awaiting the Lethal Injection on Death Row. The show talked about the inmate['s] last days, last hours, last meals, and last time with family.
After 19 months of leading the [Petitioner] on, the [Petitioner]'s defense team showed their true defense strategy, using coercion, terror, inducement, and subtle or blatant threats, they induced the [Petitioner] to plead guilty. So the plea was not willingly and intelligently made because of the method used to obtain it and so the plea is involuntary because it was unlawfully induced with an unqualified Death Penalty case counsel.
The trial court appointed counsel to represent [the Petitioner] and granted additional time within which to file an amended petition; no amendment was filed. The court also ordered that a transcript of the guilty plea submission hearing be prepared.
On July 31, 2000, the trial court dismissed [the Petitioner]'s petition without an evidentiary hearing. The court noted that it had thoroughly reviewed the transcript of the guilty plea submission hearing before ruling. In its dismissal order, the court made the following conclusions of law: (1) that the petitioner had been accurately informed by his attorneys and knew what he was doing when he entered his plea; (2) that the petitioner could not have been prejudiced by any alleged deficiency of trial counsel; (3) that the petitioner knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty; and (4) that the petition failed to allege facts sufficient to entitle the petitioner to relief. Based on the above, the trial court concluded that the allegations did not merit an evidentiary hearing and dismissed the petition.

Burnett v. State, 92 S.W.3d 403, 405-06 (Tenn. 2002). The post-conviction court's summary dismissal was upheld by this court on appeal, and the ...


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