Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs June 27, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2012-A-633,
2013-I-824 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge
Petitioner, James Howard Hurtch, appeals the denial of his
petition for post-conviction relief by the Davidson County
Criminal Court. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he
received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his
guilty plea was involuntary and unknowing. After review, we
affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Elizabeth A. Russell, Franklin, Tennessee, for the
Petitioner, James Howard Hurtch.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; James
E. Gaylord, Senior Counsel; Glenn Funk, District Attorney
General; and Megan King, Assistant District Attorney General,
for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.
Camille R. MCMULLEN, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr. and Robert L. Holloway, Jr.,
CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE.
March 9, 2012, the Petitioner was indicted by the Davidson
County Grand Jury in Case No. 2012-A-633 for two counts of
aggravated burglary, one count of theft of property with the
value of more than $1, 000, and one count of theft of
property valued at $500 or less. On July 15, 2013, the
Petitioner was also charged by way of criminal information
with a third count of aggravated burglary in Case No.
2013-I-824. The Petitioner was tried by a jury on one count
of aggravated burglary and the theft of $500 or less from
Case No. 2012-A-633 and was found guilty as charged. A
sentencing hearing was set for July 17, 2013. At the hearing,
the Petitioner waived his right to appeal the jury verdicts
and elected to enter a plea as to the two remaining charges
in Case No. 2012-A-633 and the aggravated burglary charge in
Case No. 2013-I-824. In exchange for the dismissal of the
theft over $1, 000, the Petitioner pled guilty to the two
remaining counts of aggravated burglary and theft under $500.
As a Range III, Persistent Offender, the Petitioner received
an effective sentence of fifteen years' incarceration at
July 17, 2013 guilty plea hearing, the State summarized the
underlying facts as follows:
. . . [O]n July 6th, 2011, in Davidson County[, ] the victim,
Christy Payne [ ], reported a burglary at her residence. The
air conditioning unit had been removed, entry was gained,
items were taken. Prints came back to the [Petitioner], James
. . . [I]n case number 2013-I-824, had this case gone to
trial, the [S]tate's proof would have been that on March
[ ] 30[ ], 2011, in Davidson County[, ] the home of Mr.
Bonilla [ ] was broken into. The door had been kicked in.
Inside he found his laptop were [sic] missing. And, again,
prints from the scene matched to the [Petitioner], James
asked by the trial court if the State's recitation of the
facts were generally true, the Petitioner responded
affirmatively. The court asked the Petitioner numerous
questions to confirm that he understood the rights he was
waiving, including that he was waiving his right to a grand
jury hearing in Case No. 2013-I-824, that he was waiving his
right to a sentencing hearing for the two jury verdicts, and
that he was waiving his right to an appeal. Additionally, the
court questioned the Petitioner about his status as a Range
III offender and confirmed that the Petitioner understood his
sentencing range. The court also explained to the Petitioner
the rights he would waive by pleading guilty, including his
right to a jury trial, his right to have a sentencing
hearing, his right to confront witnesses, and his right to an
appeal. The Petitioner indicated that he understood these