Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville June 23, 2015
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2013-D-2742 J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., Judge
Jeffrey T. Daigle, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Eugene Wallace.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Amy Hunter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE
This is the Petitioner's appeal from the Davidson County Criminal Court's dismissal of his ill-fated petition for post-conviction relief attacking a guilty plea entered pursuant to plea agreement entered on January 30, 2014.
Facts and Procedural Background
On October 18, 2013, a Davidson County grand jury indicted Petitioner for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine and for tampering with evidence. Those crimes allegedly occurred on November 19, 2003 (the "2003 charges"). On January 30, 2014, Petitioner entered a guilty plea to the reduced charge of simple possession, a Class E felony. He received a three-year sentence as a Range II, multiple offender, to be served on unsupervised probation after one year of confinement. The tampering with evidence charge and another drug offense in a different case were dismissed in exchange for the guilty plea.
After Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, appointed counsel filed an amended petition on July 15, 2014. Petitioner argued, among other things,  that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when entering his guilty plea because his trial counsel failed to raise the statute of limitations as a defense. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on August 21, 2014.
At the hearing, Petitioner testified that the offense to which he pled arose out of a traffic stop in 2003. He was detained and questioned by police, but he was not arrested or charged with a crime until 2012. During the intervening period of time, Petitioner was convicted of a federal crime and spent several years in federal custody before being released on parole on November 10, 2010.
When Petitioner was indicted in this case, trial counsel was appointed. Petitioner told trial counsel during their first meeting that "this case was an old case and that it should probably have a statute of limitations" defense. Trial counsel told Petitioner that the State "could still pursue the charge" and did not present the statute of limitations as a viable defense.
In addition to the 2003 charges, Petitioner also faced another possession charge in a different case for an incident in November 2012 (the "2012 charges"). Petitioner was concerned that the 2012 charges might cause him to violate the terms of his federal parole. Petitioner admitted that he "spoke with [trial counsel] about how it would benefit [him] to plead guilty to the [2003 charges] that occurred prior to [his] . . . committing the federal offense" because that crime could not be counted as a parole violation. When Petitioner pled guilty in this case, the State dismissed the 2012 charges.
Trial counsel testified the he represented Petitioner in both cases that were pending in 2013. He discussed the facts of each case with Petitioner and also discussed "his federal parole . . . and how one case versus another would advantage or disadvantage him." Trial counsel discussed these cases with Petitioner's federal public defender because he was "trying to fashion a [plea] deal that would not violate [Petitioner's] federal parole." Trial counsel was aware of the statute of limitations defense available for the 2003 charges and discussed that issue with Petitioner and the federal public defender. Trial counsel "engaged in a lot of negotiations with the State around this statute of limitations and [the 2012 charges] . . . trying to work out the best deal for [Petitioner] where he wouldn't be looking ...