Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
ROBERT C. CLANTON
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs December 13, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 18063 Forest A.
Durard, Jr., Judge
Petitioner, Robert C. Clanton, appeals from the denial of his
petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm
the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
W. Uselton, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner,
Robert Carlyle Clanton.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee
W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Robert J. Carter, District
Attorney General; and Mike Randles, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Norma McGee Ogle and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE.
July and September 2014, the Petitioner engaged in four
separate controlled drug exchanges with the same confidential
informant, one of which occurred within a school zone. He was
later convicted by a Bedford County jury of ten drug-related
offenses and received an effective sentence of twenty-three
years and six months. State v. Robert C. Clanton,
No. M2015-02438-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 5266548, at *1 (Tenn.
Crim. App. Sept. 21, 2016), perm. app. denied,
(Tenn. Dec. 15, 2016). The sole issue presented in his direct
appeal, which was affirmed by this court, was whether the
trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Id. On
January 23, 2017, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for
post-conviction relief, which was amended following the
appointment of counsel.
post-conviction hearing, the Petitioner testified that trial
counsel did not prepare him for trial and refused to
interview the confidential informant. The Petitioner was
particularly aggrieved because trial counsel did not
sufficiently attack the credibility of the confidential
informant at trial. The Petitioner believed that had trial
counsel impeached the confidential informant with a pending
criminal charge, the outcome of his case would have been
different. The Petitioner agreed however that the
informant's existing convictions, criminal history, and
motivation for acting as a confidential informant were
thoroughly explored at trial. The Petitioner also testified
that he did not know that the confidential informant's
trailer home, the location of the drug transaction, was in a
school zone and that the confidential informant purposely
lured him there. Finally, the Petitioner said that he was not
consulted regarding the grounds upon which to appeal.
counsel, an assistant public defender, had practiced criminal
defense exclusively for the past eighteen years. He spoke
with the Petitioner on "numerous occasions" for
"between 30-45 minutes to an hour each time" prior
to the Petitioner's trial. Trial counsel researched the
Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Offender Database
and the clerk's office to determine the confidential
informant's criminal history. His search revealed that
the confidential informant had several felony convictions,
some of which were beyond the ten-year limitations period.
Trial counsel did not customarily conduct additional criminal
history searches, unless he had additional information. He
was unaware of the confidential informant's pending
charge during the Petitioner's trial. Trial counsel did
not believe the pending charge would have impacted the
confidential informant's credibility because he was
thoroughly cross-examined about his existing criminal
history. Moreover, trial counsel described the State's
proof against the Petitioner as "overwhelming."
hearing the above proof, the post-conviction court issued a
written order denying post-conviction relief. It is from this
order that the Petitioner now appeals.
Petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective in
failing to discover that the confidential informant had a
pending charge and raise the defense of
entrapment.The State contends, and we ...