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Parram v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

November 14, 2017

MARCUS A. PARRAM
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs July 25, 2017 at Knoxville

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C-13-1 Kyle C. Atkins, Judge

         In two separate cases, the Petitioner, Marcus A. Parram, pled guilty to domestic assault, stalking, harassment, and three counts of violation of an order of protection. He was sentenced to a total effective sentence of three years, suspended to probation. In his timely petition for post-conviction relief, he claims that trial counsel was ineffective for not obtaining recordings of his jailhouse telephone conversations with the victim and for not securing a certain police officer or a child of the victim to testify on his behalf. It appears that he also claims that his pleas of guilty were involuntary. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and we affirm that denial.

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

          Anna Banks Cash, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus A. Parram.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Nina W. Seiler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE

         FACTS

         At the hearing, the Petitioner testified that his convictions were not just but that he had entered the pleas of guilty at the advice of counsel and by counsel's "somewhat putting fear into [his] family members and them causing [him] into [sic] taking these pleas." He said that, in a thirty-minute meeting with trial counsel, they discussed possible defenses and he asked trial counsel to call the victim's friend who worked at a battered women's shelter to testify, but counsel did not pursue this line of proof. He believed this was his only pretrial meeting with counsel. The Petitioner said that on the day he entered his pleas of guilty, he complained to trial counsel that she had not issued subpoenas for the police officers or the victim's children to testify. Specifically, according to the Petitioner, he wanted, as witnesses, the victim's eldest son and Officer Heathcock, the arresting officer. He said that trial counsel told him he could receive a sentence of fifteen to sixteen years and that the "real reason [he] pled [was] because [his] mother was crying." He said that trial counsel told him that the police officers said they heard him threaten the victim, but the Petitioner later learned that Officer Heathcock had not made this statement to trial counsel and had never talked to anyone about the case. The officer told the Petitioner that he would come to court and testify for him.

         As for the recorded jailhouse telephone calls between the Petitioner and the victim, the Petitioner said that the victim had told him that she was proceeding with the matter "because she was getting the assistance from the abused and battered women's shelter." However, trial counsel told the Petitioner she did not want to use the recordings because having contact with the victim was another violation of the order of protection. Although he originally had been indicted only for misdemeanors, he pled guilty to one felony because trial counsel told him, "[W]e can't beat the officers['] [testimony]." So, the Petitioner's family told him to accept the pleas and he could "go home today."

         On cross-examination, the Petitioner said he had not understood that only the plea to domestic assault was a best interest plea. He acknowledged that, after being served with the order of protection, he had called the victim and gone to her residence. He did not recall sending the victim a letter from jail but did recall meeting her to retrieve his property from her house. The Petitioner acknowledged that, after he had been served with the order of protection, he went to the hotel in Nashville where the victim was attending a teachers' conference to try and convince her to reconcile with him.

         Trial counsel testified that she had been retained by the Petitioner's family and had visited him in jail within two weeks after she received the discovery materials from the State. She gave the Petitioner a copy of the materials when she visited him. The Petitioner was charged in a second indictment, and counsel visited him several times at the jail. At the Petitioner's request, counsel for the State was at one of their meetings because the Petitioner wanted to make a "counter-offer" to the State. Trial counsel discussed with the Petitioner that, according to him, the victim had initiated some of the contact which resulted in his arrest. Trial counsel never spoke with Officer Heathcock, but from the discovery statements and the warrant, she knew what Officer Heathcock had observed and did not believe his testimony would have aided the Petitioner. The Petitioner did not ask trial counsel to subpoena a child of the victim, and counsel did not tell the Petitioner that he could receive a sentence of fifteen to sixteen years.

         On cross-examination, trial counsel said she visited the Petitioner five times before his pleas of guilty. Counsel did not believe that recordings of the jailhouse telephone calls would have aided the ...


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