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Weaver v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

January 5, 2018

DANNIE WEAVER
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs November 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Henderson County No. 15035-3 Kyle Atkins, Judge

         Dannie Weaver, the Petitioner, entered a best interest plea to driving under the influence, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with prior convictions, [1] possession of a Schedule II drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a violation of the seat belt law. The Petitioner received a total effective sentence of four years with thirty-five percent release eligibility, which was suspended to probation following the service of thirty-five days in jail. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief and alleged that trial counsel's performance was deficient and that, absent the deficient performance, the Petitioner would have proceeded to trial. The Petitioner also alleged that his best interest plea was involuntary and unknowing. The post-conviction court denied relief and the Petitioner appealed. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

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

          Samuel W. Hinson, Lexington, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dannie Weaver.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Jody Pickens, District Attorney General; and Matthew Floyd, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Best Interest Plea Submission Hearing

         At the plea submission hearing, the Petitioner testified that trial counsel had discussed the plea agreement and the positive and negative aspects of his case with him. The Petitioner stated that trial counsel advised him that entering a best interest plea was his most favorable option. The trial court noted that, in count three of the indictment, the Petitioner was charged with possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with prior convictions, a Class D felony, and that the Petitioner could receive a sentence of two to four years for this conviction. The Petitioner affirmed that he had the right to proceed to trial, to assistance of counsel, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, to present witnesses, to testify or not testify at trial, and to appeal. He stated that he understood that he was giving up these rights. He testified that he was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol and that he had no physical or mental impairments other than his previous heart attack. He stated that he was not "thinking too straight[, ]" but he stated that his heart condition did not prevent him from understanding his plea agreement. The Petitioner agreed that he understood the charges that he was pleading to and the accompanying sentencing ranges. He confirmed that he understood that, by a best interest plea, the State could use his convictions to enhance a future sentence. The Petitioner confirmed that he was entering his plea freely and voluntarily and that no one had forced or pressured him to enter his best interest plea. The Petitioner asked the trial court to allow him to serve his sentence on weekends because he was "trying to go to school." The Petitioner also testified that he was satisfied with trial counsel's representation and that he had no questions about his best interest plea.

         The State offered the following recitation of facts as a basis for the Petitioner's plea:

[T]he State would show at trial that on March 5th, 2014, [the Petitioner] was stopped for a seat belt violation by Trooper Edwards. . . . Trooper Edwards noticed a very strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. [The Petitioner] admitted that he was smoking marijuana prior to driving and stated that he should not be driving. Trooper Edwards performed field sobriety tests and [the Petitioner] performed them unsatisfactor[ily]. A search of the vehicle also contained a green leafy substance inside a red and blue glass pipe with marijuana residue in it. There was also a clear plastic container in a toolbox in his vehicle that contained a green leafy substance that turned out to be marijuana. [The Petitioner] also had in his possession a prescription pill bottle labeled Tramadol. And inside was one and a half white pills and [the Petitioner] stated that they were methadone. [The Petitioner] also . . . was not wearing his seat belt on the stop.

         The Petitioner confirmed that the State's recitation of facts was "substantially correct[.]" The trial court accepted the ...


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