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Anderson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 10, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs February 6, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-03327 James M. Lammey, Judge

         The Petitioner, Demetrius Anderson, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief, alleging he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Ernest J. Beasley (on post-conviction appeal), Memphis, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Demetrius Anderson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Ryan Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.



         On March 23, 2013, the Petitioner robbed two men, Richard Cooper and Willie Crawford, at gunpoint and took $60 and some marijuana. The victims called the police, and the Petitioner was apprehended after a short foot chase. In July 2013, the Petitioner was indicted for aggravated robbery and criminal attempt to commit aggravated robbery. On September 4, 2013, the trial court ordered the Petitioner released under the supervision of the Day Reporting Center, which required the Petitioner to report, complete certain classes, and submit to drug screens. On November 15, 2013, the Petitioner was arraigned, appeared in criminal court with trial counsel, and his case was set for report on December 18, 2013. On January 22, 2014, the trial court entered a scheduling order, setting the Petitioner's case for trial on November 3, 2014, and providing in pertinent part, the following:

[The Petitioner] was voir dired in open court . . . concerning the nature of his/her charges, the possible ranges of punishment, any proposed settlements and any questions he/she may have concerning the legal process, and has been informed that . . . if he/she demands a trial that no plea-bargains will be accepted by the trial court once the case is set for trial. The [Petitioner] has in open court nevertheless rejected all offers of settlement and has demanded a trial by jury as is his/her right.

         In May 2014, the trial court issued a capias for the Petitioner's arrest based on his failure to report as required to the Day Reporting Center. Two months later, on August 19, 2014, trial counsel filed a motion to withdraw as attorney of record based on the Petitioner's refusal to communicate with her or turn himself into the court following issuance of warrants for his arrest. Trial counsel's motion alleged that there was a total breakdown of communication with the Petitioner, that she was unable to effectively represent him, and that "continued representation would prejudice" the Petitioner. Trial counsel's motion acknowledged that the Petitioner's case had been set for trial. The trial court held the motion in abeyance until trial.

         On November 3, 2014, the Petitioner's case was called on the calendar as set for trial. Apparently, the Petitioner appeared in court of his own volition. There was some discussion as to the capias issued for his arrest and trial counsel's motion to withdraw from the Petitioner's case. The clerk noted that the court had "issued the capias in May. [Trial counsel] filed her motion in August. We haven't seen [the Petitioner] since." The trial court addressed the Petitioner, "I'm glad you showed up . . . [s]ometimes people are their own worst enemies." The court further explained to the Petitioner that trial counsel had been trying to contact him. The clerk then advised the court that the Petitioner had picked up a criminal trespass charge in January 2014, which was apparently dismissed. The State announced that it was ready for trial but did not oppose a continuance.

         Trial counsel requested a continuance because she had not seen the Petitioner for six months, but she advised the court that the Petitioner was considering entering a guilty plea that morning. Trial counsel acknowledged the trial court's scheduling order required the guilty plea to be open to the court. She further advised the court that the Petitioner "explain[ed] that he had to move twice because the family lost their homes and so that would be why [her] correspondence wasn't received, nor was fugitive able to contact him." She asked the court to hold the matter "temporarily ready" to discuss the ...

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