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Chalmers v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 22, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs January 5, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 98-09236 Chris Craft, Judge

         The Petitioner, Alfonso Chalmers, appeals the denial of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his conviction for premeditated first degree murder and resulting sentence of life in prison. The Petitioner filed a petition for the writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered mental health records reveal that he was diagnosed as psychotic and, therefore, unable to be convicted for premeditated first degree murder. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that it was time-barred, was meritless, and raised issues previously determined by this court. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court is Affirmed Pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

          Alfonso Chalmers, Clifton, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; and Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.



         This court previously summarized the Petitioner's relevant procedural history relating to his first degree murder conviction as follows:

The record before us reflects that the petitioner was convicted of first degree murder in 1999. The petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence, and this court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in April 2001. State v. Alfonzo Chalmers, No. W2000-00440-CCA-R3-CD, 2001 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 245 (Jackson, Apr. 4, 2001). [1] The petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the trial court dismissed. This court affirmed the dismissal in June 2013. Alphonzo Chalmers v. State, No. W2002-02270-CCA-R3-PC, 2003 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 533, 2003 WL 21392819 (Jackson, June 13, 2003).
On July 31, 2013, the petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that he had obtained newly discovered evidence that was not discoverable at the time of his trial. The petitioner stated that his mother had recently obtained his mental health records from the Memphis Mental Health Institute (MMHI) after the petitioner signed a release of records form. The petitioner contended that the records refute the testimony of Dr. Rokeye S. Farooque and Dr. Samuel Craddock, who testified at his trial. The petitioner maintained that the records reflect that he had hallucinations and was paranoid and that if the jury had known of these problems, the outcome at trial would have been different. The petitioner further alleged that the records were withheld by the State in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
The coram nobis court found that the petition was not timely and should be dismissed. Additionally, the court stated that even if the petition were timely, the petitioner's claim had no merit. The court cited this court's opinion in the petitioner's direct appeal, wherein this court summarized the testimony of Dr. Craddock and Dr. Farooque, which included the records from the MMHI. The coram nobis court noted that both doctors had concluded that the petitioner was malingering. Dr. Farooque also concluded that the petitioner's problems resulted from his abuse of cocaine and alcohol. The court held that the records were not newly discovered evidence and "did not make any difference at the petitioner's trial." The court observed that the records could have been easily obtained by the petitioner prior to trial. Additionally, the court found that the State had not violated Brady.

Alphonzo Chalmers v. State, No. W2014-00377-CCA-R3-ECN, 2015 WL 847131, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 26, 2015). In upholding the coram nobis court's denial of relief on appeal, this court reasoned:

The petitioner maintained that his mother was able to obtain the discharge plan report after he signed a release form. No evidence indicates that the petitioner would not have been able to obtain the records prior to trial. Moreover, as the coram nobis court found, the issue of the petitioner's mental health was litigated at trial. The petitioner's trial counsel was obviously aware of the petitioner's mental health records; accordingly, the petitioner should have been aware of them as well. Further, the mental health records show nothing new or inconsistent with the ...

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