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Hurtch v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 5, 2017

JAMES HOWARD HURTCH
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs June 27, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2012-A-633, 2013-I-824 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge

         The 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.

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

          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., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE.

         On 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 forty-five percent.

         Guilty Plea Hearing.

         At the 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 Hurtch.
. . . [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 Hurtch.

         When 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 rights ...


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