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Dodson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

July 28, 2015

MICHAEL ANTONIO DODSON
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

Assigned on Briefs February 11, 2015

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2009A829 Steve R. Dozier, Judge

William E. Griffith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Michael Antonio Dodson.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

OPINION

THOMAS T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE

The facts of the event which resulted in Petitioner's convictions are set forth in detail in this Court's opinion which affirmed the sentences imposed following Petitioner's guilty pleas. Id. 2011 WL 5831759 at *1-3. There is no need to repeat all of those facts in this opinion. It is sufficient to note that Petitioner and two other men committed a home invasion of a boyfriend's and girlfriend's residence while the couple was at home. The woman was repeatedly raped. Both victims were tied up and blindfolded after being forced into an office inside the residence. A gun was fired and multiple threats of killing the victims were made during the ordeal which also included ransacking the home and taking personal property. After raping the woman, Petitioner and his co-defendants looked for, but could not find, bleach to "clean" the raped victim. They settled for taking the victim to a bathroom and pouring floor cleaner all over her. Petitioner has presented two grounds for relief in this appeal: (1) trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to present evidence of Petitioner's "mental health issues" at the sentencing hearing; and (2) the guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. The entire argument in his brief as to the first issue (other than citations to authorities) is as follows:

[Petitioner] testified that his attorney did not present evidence at the sentencing hearing regarding his mental health issues. Specifically, trial counsel failed to mention that [Petitioner] had been diagnosed with having ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] and [split] personality. [Petitioner] testified that had counsel done so, [Petitioner] would submit that the trial court could have imposed a lesser sentence than the one received as it could have been used as a mitigating factor.
Based on the proof, [trial counsel's] failure to present [evidence] at the sentencing hearing regarding [Petitioner's] mental health issues substantially impaired [Petitioner's] Sixth Amendment Right to effective assistance of counsel. Trial counsel should have presented such evidence. Thus, trial counsel's failure to do so deprived [Petitioner] of effective assistance of counsel.
[Petitioner] would submit that this error denied him his Sixth Amendment Right to effective assistance of counsel by clear and [convincing] evidence and he is entitled to relief based on this issue.

As to the second issue, Petitioner's argument on appeal (again excluding his citations to authorities) is as follows:

[Petitioner] testified that he was not fully aware of the consequences of his plea. [Petitioner] testified that after conversations with his trial attorney, he thought he would only get 40 years at the sentencing hearing. As it turned out, [Petitioner] received 86 years. [Petitioner] testified that he did not realize he could get this much time after a sentencing hearing. [Petitioner] testified that he had maintained he wanted a jury trial in this case. He did not want to enter the guilty plea. Had [Petitioner] known that he could have received as lengthy a sentence as he did, he would not have entered the plea and instead would have pursued the jury trial.
Based on the proof, [trial counsel's] failure to explain to [Petitioner] that he could get as much time as he did makes [Petitioner's] plea not knowingly and voluntarily entered. [Petitioner] did not fully understand his range of punishment and understood his sentence to be no more than 40 years as a possible sentence. Thus, trial counsel's actions deprived [Petitioner] of entering a knowing and voluntarily entered plea. [Petitioner] would submit that based on this, he is entitled to relief based on this issue.

We will confine our summary of the proof developed at the post-conviction hearing to the specific and limited issues and arguments made by Petitioner in his brief. Petitioner and trial counsel were the only witnesses who testified at the evidentiary hearing. The only two exhibits admitted were (1) trial counsel's time sheet for work done in Petitioner's cases and (2) the transcript of the hearing when the guilty pleas were entered. There was no evidence independent of Petitioner's testimony presented in support of ...


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