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Hardin v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 8, 2017

JAMES HARDIN
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs December 6, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C15-229 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The Petitioner, James Hardin, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary and resulting effective sentence of twenty-two years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          William J. Milam, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Hardin.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

         I. Factual Background

         On January 12, 2013, Dr. Allyson Anyanwu and Lorenzo Amador were robbed inside Dr. Anyanwu's home. State v. Christopher Lee Cunningham and James Cleo Hardin, No. W2014-00230-CCA-R3-CD (C), 2015 WL 1396441, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Jackson, Mar. 24, 2015), perm. to appeal denied, (Tenn. July 20, 2015). Dr. Anyanwu had recently purchased the home and had hired Mr. Amador to perform minor renovations. Id. Dr. Anyanwu was in the kitchen when two African-American men led Mr. Amador into the kitchen at gunpoint. Id. At trial, Dr. Anyanwu testified that the two men were wearing hooded sweatshirts with the hoods pulled up on their heads and that she could see their faces clearly. Id. However, Mr. Amador testified that they were wearing masks and that he could see only their eyes. Id. One of the gunmen, later identified as the Petitioner, took Mr. Amador's cellular telephone and wallet and Dr. Anyanwu's cellular telephone. Id. He then ordered Dr. Anyanwu and Mr. Amador to kneel on the floor, and the two gunmen left. Id. As they were leaving the house, the Petitioner took Dr. Anyanwu's purse that had been on the kitchen counter. Id.

         Dr. Anyanwu called the police from a neighbor's house. Id. The police interviewed the victims and searched for the gunmen but were unable to find them. Id. A few days later, Mr. Amador recognized one of the gunmen walking down the street and telephoned the police. Id. The police detained Christopher Cunningham and the Petitioner, and Mr. Amador identified Cunningham as one of the robbers. Id. Mr. Amador was unable to say with certainty whether the Petitioner was the second robber. Id. Several days later, the police showed a photograph array to Dr. Anyanwu, and she selected the Petitioner's photograph and identified him as one of the robbers. Id.

         The defendants were tried jointly, and the jury convicted them as charged of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary. Id. at *2. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced them to eleven years for each aggravated robbery conviction, to be served consecutively, and five years for the aggravated burglary conviction, to be served concurrently, for a total effective sentence of twenty-two years. Id. On direct appeal of their convictions to this court, the defendants argued that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing. Id. at *1. This court affirmed the convictions and sentences. Id.

         On August 7, 2015, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court appointed counsel and held an evidentiary hearing.

         At the hearing, the Petitioner testified that trial counsel represented him at trial and on appeal. He said that counsel met with him only twice before trial and that both meetings occurred the day before trial. Counsel told the Petitioner about an offer for the defendants to plead guilty in exchange for a six-year sentence to be served at thirty percent release eligibility. Counsel told the Petitioner that the offer was a "package deal" and that both defendants had to accept it. The defendants rejected the offer. The Petitioner said that ...


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