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State v. Whiteside

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

January 30, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DEVIN WHITESIDE

          Assigned on Briefs July 11, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 14-644 Kyle Atkins, Judge

         The Appellant, Devin Whiteside, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery, and he received concurrent sentences of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Thereafter, the Appellant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, alleging that after the plea hearing, he obtained information relating to the testimony of two of the State's witnesses. He maintained that, if he had been provided the information prior to the plea, he would not have pled guilty. The trial court denied the motion, and the Appellant appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Joshua B. Dougan, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Devin Whiteside.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Aaron J. Chaplin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

         I. Factual Background

         On December 1, 2014, the Madison County Grand Jury returned a multi-count indictment charging the Appellant and his co-defendant, Gerald Hampton, with two counts of aggravated robbery and three counts of identity theft. At the November 30, 2015 guilty plea hearing, the Appellant assured the trial court that he understood the charges he was facing and that he understood the proceedings. The trial court informed the Appellant that by pleading guilty, he was waiving certain rights, including his rights to a trial by jury, to confront witnesses, to compel witnesses, and to appeal his convictions. The trial court asked if the Appellant understood the rights he was waiving. Instead of answering the trial court's question, the Appellant asked, "How - how long do I have to withdraw this plea?" The trial court responded, "[I]f you're already talking about withdrawing, it makes me think that you don't want to go forward." The Appellant explained that he wanted to know if he could change his mind and go to trial after he signed the plea agreement. The trial court cautioned that if the Appellant pled guilty, it was "[v]ery unlikely that's going to happen." The Appellant said that he had no more questions.

         The trial court agreed to stop the proceeding if the Appellant had other questions in order to clear up any misunderstandings. The Appellant then acknowledged that he understood the rights he was waiving by entering his guilty pleas. The Appellant asserted that he was entering his guilty pleas "freely and voluntarily"; that he was not being threatened, coerced, forced, or pressured into pleading guilty; and that he thought pleading guilty was the "best course of action" for him.

         The trial court asked if the Appellant had any questions for his attorney or for the trial court, and the Appellant responded, "Nothing other than that withdraw the plea." The court stated that the Appellant's questions about withdrawing the plea gave the court concerns about allowing the Appellant to plead guilty. The court again warned the Appellant that if he pled guilty, his "chances of withdrawing it [were] very slim." The Appellant said that he understood. The court asked if the Appellant wanted to plead guilty then immediately file a motion to withdraw the plea. The Appellant said that he did not intend to file a motion "immediately" but that he wanted to know "how long [he] had." The trial court asked if the Appellant needed more time to consider the plea, and the Appellant said yes. The trial court noted that the Appellant's case was set for trial the following Friday and allowed the Appellant to wait until then to plead guilty or to proceed to trial.

         However, later on the day of the plea, counsel told the court that she and the Appellant had a "miscommunication" earlier and that the Appellant "understands where we are now." Counsel explained that the Appellant wanted to accept the plea but that he also thought counsel wanted him to accept the plea because she did not want to go to trial. Counsel said that after she and the Appellant discussed the matter again, the Appellant wanted to go forward with the guilty plea.

         The trial court reiterated the advice and cautions it had given the Appellant previously then asked, "Did you clear up the misunderstanding you had about withdrawing your guilty plea?" The Appellant responded, "Yes, sir, I did." The Appellant asserted that he had no further questions for the trial court. The Appellant agreed to stipulate to the facts stated in the indictment. He further agreed that he was accepting concurrent sentences of eight years for each conviction with release eligibility after serving eighty-five percent of the sentences, that ...


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