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Hartley v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 15, 2016

CHARLES T. HARTLEY
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

         Assigned on Briefs May 18, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Anderson County No. B4C00005 Donald Ray Elledge, Judge

         The petitioner, Charles T. Hartley, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner, originally indicted for rape of a child, entered an Alford plea to the lesser offense of attempted aggravated sexual battery and received a sentence of ten years to be served on supervised probation. The petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing: (1) the judgments in his case were illegal because they did not reflect the sentence of mandatory supervision for life; and (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition finding that it was barred by the statute of limitations and also ruled that if an appellate court concluded that the petition was not barred, that the petitioner received effective assistance of counsel. On appeal, the petitioner argues that the trial court erred when it dismissed his petition. Following our review, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          J. Thomas Marshall, Jr., Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles T Hartley.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Dave S. Clark, District Attorney General; and Sandra Donaghy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Thomas T. Woodall, PJ., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          THOMAS T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The petitioner was originally indicted for rape of a child, a Class A felony, in Anderson County, Tennessee on August 1, 2006. The petitioner was also indicted for rape of a child involving the same victim, but a separate incident in Roane County, Tennessee on June 18, 2007. On August 21, 2008, the petitioner entered an Alford or "best interest" plea to a reduced charge of attempted aggravated sexual battery, a Class C felony. See North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970) (a defendant may choose to plead guilty while maintaining his innocence by entering a "best interest" plea.). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the petitioner as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years' incarceration. The trial court suspended the petitioner's sentence and ordered it be served on supervised probation. The conditions of the plea agreement, including "mandatory supervision for life pursuant to TCA § 39-13-524, " were set forth in the "Waiver of Sentencing Pursuant to T.R.Cr.P. 11(e)(1)(c)" and the "Waiver of Trial By Jury And Request For Acceptance of Guilty Plea - As A Best Interest Plea." Both documents were signed and dated by the petitioner, trial counsel, and the assistant district attorney.

         At the plea hearing, the trial court reviewed the petitioner's rights with him. The trial court explained the petitioner's right to trial by jury, his right to confront witnesses against him, and his right to compel witnesses and evidence. The trial court further explained the petitioner's right to remain silent and to testify on his own behalf. The trial court explained the nature and consequences of a "best interest plea." The petitioner affirmed that he understood by entering a "best interest plea" he was waiving his right to a jury trial. He stated that he understood that entry of an Alford plea had the same effect as a guilty plea. The petitioner stated that he understood the plea and believed it was in his best interest.

         The trial court clarified the elements of rape of a child and attempted aggravated sexual battery as well as the possible punishments for each offense. The trial court went over the plea agreement with the petitioner, including the requirement that he "comply with the mandatory supervision for life pursuant to TCA 39-13-524." The petitioner affirmed that he understood. The prosecutor offered the factual basis for the petitioner's guilty plea. Relevant to the petitioner's arguments on appeal, the prosecutor stated the following:

[The victim] did not disclose to any of the hospital officials that he had been penetrated. They did treat him for rectal bleeding, recommended the follow-up treatment. And during the course of that study, they found that he had some salmonella in his system. The doctors have indicated to me that salmonella can cause rectal bleeding, but the way that you could tell 100 percent whether the rectal bleeding was caused by penetration or by this virus was to have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy had been scheduled for this child but when the treatment seemed effective, the mother cancelled the colonoscopy.
. . . Yes, there was rectal bleeding that might be consistent with anal penetration. But it could also be caused by salmonella which was developed in this child's rectal area.

         After setting forth the factual basis for the plea, the prosecutor explained that the petitioner had a prior conviction for "lewdness with a child under the age of 14." The prosecutor stated the offense would be the equivalent of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, in Tennessee. The prosecutor also explained that the petitioner would be subject to mandatory supervision for life based on his prior record. The trial court clarified the petitioner's right to an appeal following a jury trial, and his right to have an attorney appointed for him if he could not afford one. The petitioner acknowledged that he understood his rights and that he wished to waive them and plead guilty. The petitioner maintained he was not confused, and he did not have any questions. The petitioner acknowledged he had not been threatened or induced to enter his plea, and he was entering his plea freely and voluntarily.

         The trial court concluded the plea hearing by accepting the plea and explaining the terms of the plea agreement. The trial court sentenced the petitioner to ten years as a Range II, multiple offender, to be served on probation. The trial court ordered the petitioner to have no contact with the victim or any member of the victim's family. The trial court stated the petitioner would be subject to GPS monitoring until the victim reached the age of majority on September 13, 2011. The trial court ordered the petitioner to comply with the requirements of the sexual offender registry and with mandatory supervision for life pursuant to Tenn. Code ...


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