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Cline v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

December 4, 2017

JOSHUA MATTHEW CLINE
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs October 18, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County No. 41300063 William R. Goodman III, Judge

         Petitioner, Joshua Matthew Cline, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his April 2013 convictions for two counts of rape of a child. Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After a review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we determine Petitioner has failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

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

          Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joshua Matthew Cline.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Robert Nash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On March 4, 2008, Petitioner raped his adopted daughter, a six year-old child. State v. Joshua Matthew Cline, No. M2013-01846-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 1281526, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 31, 2014), perm app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 27, 2014). The rape was recorded on video, and Petitioner was convicted in federal court of production of child pornography and sentenced to twenty-seven years and three months for that offense. Id. In state court, Petitioner entered an open guilty plea to two counts of rape of a child, and the trial court sentenced him to consecutive terms of twenty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.[1] Id. Petitioner challenged the imposition of consecutive sentencing as an abuse of discretion by the trial court, but this Court affirmed the trial court's judgments. Id.

         At Petitioner's plea hearing, the prosecutor stated that Petitioner's conviction was based upon a video containing footage of the victim being raped by Petitioner. Subsequently, the trial court asked Petitioner if he understood that he would be pleading to multiple felonies and that the trial court would make a sentencing determination independently. Petitioner responded, "Yes, Your Honor." The trial court informed Petitioner of his right to a jury trial, his right to confront witnesses, his right to call witnesses, his right to remain silent, his right to testify, and his right to an appeal. Each time that the trial court informed Petitioner of a right, the trial court asked if Petitioner understood that he would be giving up that right by pleading guilty. Each time, Petitioner stated, "Yes, Your Honor." The trial court asked Petitioner if he committed each rape, and both times Petitioner replied, "Yes, Your Honor." Then, the trial court found Petitioner guilty of two counts of rape of a child and dismissed the other charges brought against him.

         At the sentencing hearing, the Petitioner's ex-wife testified about the impact that Petitioner's action had on both her and the victim. With regard to the victim, she stated,

[It has] affected every part of her life as well. She not only lost her childhood, she's lost her innocence, she lost her purity, she lost her father[-]figure as well, and she has no concept of what that's supposed to be really. She's [a] preteen now and trying to have her understand what a relationship is supposed to be like is very difficult and it's a day-to-day struggle with us.

         Petitioner also testified at the sentencing hearing and spoke about his struggles during childhood and his military service. Trial counsel asked, "Why did you plead guilty?" Petitioner responded, "Because I really don't want my family to go through this. . . . I want them to be able to move on; I want to move on. . . . I want to do what I can to help them recover and be able to move on in life." When asked if he had anything else to say, Petitioner said, "Nothing coming to mind." After argument by the State and trial counsel, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to twenty-five years on each count and ...


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