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Dodson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 20, 2015


Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville November 18, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2009-A-829 Steve R. Dozier, Judge

Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the petitioner, Monroe Dodson, Jr.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General & Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Rob McGuire, Assistant District Attorney General, for the respondent, State of Tennessee.

Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams, and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.



Factual and Procedural Background

On March 17, 2009, a Davidson County grand jury indicted Petitioner with three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, all of which resulted from a home invasion on December 22, 2008. Following a recess during the rape victim's testimony at the trial on February 1, 2010, Petitioner accepted a plea agreement with the State. The State dismissed two of the aggravated rape charges in exchange for Petitioner's open guilty plea to the remaining charges. After a colloquy, the trial court accepted Petitioner's plea as knowing and voluntary.

On March 26, 2010, the trial court held a sentencing hearing. Petitioner received a sentence of twenty-five years for the aggravated rape conviction, twenty-three years for each especially aggravated kidnapping conviction, ten years for each aggravated robbery conviction, five years for the aggravated burglary conviction, and six years for the employing a firearm conviction. As a standard offender, Petitioner must serve the rape, kidnapping, and firearm sentences at 100%, but the remaining sentences are to be served at 30%. With consecutive sentencing, Petitioner's effective sentence for these crimes is eighty-two years. These sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Monroe James Dodson, Jr., No. M2010-01615-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. July 12, 2012), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Oct. 17 2012).

Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief on April 15, 2013. The post-conviction court entered an order on May 10, 2013, appointing counsel to represent Petitioner. Petitioner filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief on August 6, 2013, alleging that his guilty plea should be withdrawn because he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on October 17, 2013, and entered an order denying relief on December 12, 2013. Petitioner then filed a timely notice of appeal.

Standard of Review

In order to prevail in a claim for post-conviction relief, a petitioner must prove his factual allegations by clear and convincing evidence. T.C.A. § 40-30-110(f); Momon v. State, 18 S.W.3d 152, 156 (Tenn. 1999). "Evidence is clear and convincing when there is no serious or substantial doubt about the correctness of the conclusions drawn from the evidence." Hicks v. State, 983 S.W.2d 240, 245 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1998). On appeal, this Court gives deference to the trial court's decision on questions concerning witness credibility, the weight and value to be given to testimony, and the factual issues raised by the evidence. Momon, 18 S.W.3d at 156 (citing Henley v. State, 960 S.W.2d 572, 578 (Tenn. 1997)). This court will not reweigh or reevaluate the evidence presented below and is bound by the findings of the post-conviction court unless the evidence preponderates otherwise. State v. Burns, 6 S.W.3d 453, 461 (Tenn. 1999). However, the post-conviction court's conclusions of law and application of the law to the facts are subject to de novo review with no presumption of correctness. Fields v. State, 40 S.W.3d 450, 457 (Tenn. 2001).


Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying his petition because the evidence at the post-conviction hearing established that, but for trial counsel's inaccurate representations about the terms of the plea agreement, Petitioner would not have aborted his trial or pled guilty. The State responds that the trial court properly ...

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