Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs December 16, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Sumner County No. 304-2014 Dee David Gay, Judge
Michael Brandon Adams, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and John Everett Williams, J., joined.
ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE
I. Facts and Procedural History
In 2004, the Petitioner pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse. Michael Brandon Adams v. State, No. M2007-00396-CCA-R3-PC, 2008 WL 544605, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 21, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 23, 2008). The following facts were recited at the guilty plea hearing:
[O]n August 3rd, 2003, the Gallatin Police Department was contacted concerning a nine-month-old male infant that had been brought to Sumner Regional Medical Center with severe burns to the lower extremities. The baby was brought to the ER by a maternal aunt and her boyfriend, the [Petitioner].
The infant had been left at the aunt's residence by the infant's mother. Mrs. Burnley left the morning of August 3rd - this was the aunt - for work, leaving [the Petitioner] as the babysitter and caregiver of the child. A short time later [the Petitioner] called the aunt at work inquiring about bathing the baby. She evidently gave him instructions on preparing the bath. When she returned home, she said the baby's skin was peeling off and saw the infant in the kitchen sink still in the water.
The doctor at the emergency room examined the infant [and] determined the burns were not from accidental means. The baby was transferred to Vanderbilt Burn Center, where it was determined the baby had been held in very hot water. After being in Vanderbilt for several months, the baby was then transferred to . . . Georgia, where the baby went through rehabilitation for another several months. The mother stayed at the baby's side.
Adams, 2008 WL 544605, at *1. The trial court imposed the agreed sentence of eighteen years incarceration. Id.
In 2005, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily as a result of his counsel's ineffective assistance. Id. at *1. He also alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his counsel failed to adequately investigate and interview witnesses, failed to petition the court for funds for an independent medical evaluation of the victim's injuries, failed to have the Petitioner evaluated for competency, and failed to ask for a change of venue. Id. A subsequent hearing was held, following which the post-conviction court denied his petition, concluding that "lead counsel was effective, and that the petitioner entered his plea knowingly and voluntarily." Id. This Court affirmed the post-conviction court's judgment on appeal, stating:
[T]he [P]etitioner testified that he made the choice to plead guilty based upon his belief that he could not be successful at trial. He conceded that his trial counsel had fully explained the consequences of a guilty plea to him. Lead counsel testified that he discussed the entirety of the State's evidence with the [P]etitioner and that it was the [P]etitioner's choice to plead guilty. The [P]etitioner testified that he was advised of his rights before entering his plea. Moreover, nothing in the transcript suggests that the [P]etitioner's plea was the product of "'ignorance, incomprehension, coercion, terror, inducements, [or] subtle or blatant threats.'" See Blankenship, 858 S.W.2d at 904 (quoting Boykin, 395 U.S. at 242-43). ...