Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs September 13, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Marshall County No. 16-CR-130-PCR,
16-CR-132-PCR, 16-CR-133-PCR Franklin L. Russell, Judge
Petitioner, Claudale Renaldo Armstrong, appeals the
post-conviction court's denial of his petition for
post-conviction relief in which he challenged his conviction
for the sale of 0.5 grams or more of a Schedule II Controlled
Substance, his conviction for the sale of less than 0.5 grams
of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, and his effective
sentence of twenty-six years in the Department of Correction.
On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel
rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion
seeking recusal of the trial judge after the Petitioner filed
a federal lawsuit and complaints with the Board of
Professional Responsibility and the Board of Judicial Conduct
against the judge. Upon reviewing the record and the
applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
E. Brandon, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Claudale
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Robert J.
Carter, District Attorney General; and Weakley Edward
Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.
Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.,
EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY .
appeal arises from two separate drug transactions between the
Petitioner and a confidential informant. In case numbers
12-CR-170 and 12-CR-172, the Petitioner was indicted for the
sale of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine base; delivery of 0.5
grams or more of cocaine base; sale of less than 0.5 grams of
cocaine; and delivery of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine.
These cases were consolidated for a jury trial, in which the
jury found the Petitioner guilty of all four counts as
charged. A summary of the evidence presented at trial is
included in this court's opinion on direct appeal.
See State v. Claudale Renaldo Armstrong, No.
M2014-01041-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 1947024, at *1-4 (Tenn. Crim.
App. Apr. 30, 2015), perm. app. denied (Aug. 14,
subsequent sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the
alternative counts into two convictions and sentenced the
Petitioner as a Range II, multiple offender to eighteen years
and eight years for each respective transaction. The
sentences were aligned consecutively for an effective term of
twenty-six years' imprisonment. The convictions and
sentences were affirmed on appeal in this court, and
permission to appeal was denied by the Tennessee Supreme
Court on August 14, 2015. See id.
Petitioner also entered a guilty plea in a separate case,
case number 12-CR-173. Although the indictment is not
included in the record on post-conviction appeal, the
Presentence Report in the record on direct appeal of the jury
trial stated that Petitioner was charged in case 12-CR-173
with the sale of over 0.5 grams of cocaine and the delivery
of over 0.5 grams of cocaine. According to the State's
Response to the Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and the
post-conviction court's order, the Petitioner's
guilty plea was entered on June 3, 2014. No judgment form is
included in the record.
Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief
in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective at
trial. The post-conviction court held a hearing on the
petition and entered an order denying relief. Because this
appeal involves only the claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel based on trial counsel's failure to file a motion
to recuse, we summarize the evidence presented during the
hearing relevant only to this issue.
post-conviction evidentiary hearing, the Petitioner testified
that he filed a federal lawsuit against the trial judge while
his case was still pending. The Petitioner stated that after
the Petitioner's trial, the federal court dismissed his
suit because judges are immune from monetary damages and
instructed him to contact the Court of Criminal Appeals. The
Petitioner also testified that he submitted complaints
against the trial judge with the Board of Professional
Responsibility and the Board of Judicial Conduct. Both boards
dismissed the complaints and recommended the Petitioner