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Smith v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

July 22, 2019

WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, JR.
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs May 7, 2019 at Jackson

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 18080PC Forest A. Durard, Jr., Judge

         The petitioner, William Henry Smith, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2015 conviction of conspiracy to sell and deliver one-half grams or more of a Schedule II drug, [1] alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

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

          Jonathan C. Brown, Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Henry Smith, Jr.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M. Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Robert J. Carter, District Attorney General; and Mike Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          JAMES CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE

         A Bedford County Circuit Court jury convicted the petitioner of conspiracy to sell and deliver 0.5 grams or more of a Schedule II controlled substance arising out of an incident in which the petitioner, along with Kavaris Kelso, arranged to sell one-and-a-half ounces of cocaine to Candy Rutledge, a confidential informant ("CI"). State v. William Henry Smith, Jr., No. M2016-01475-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, Jan. 13, 2017). On direct appeal, this court summarized the evidence at trial as follows:

. . . [T]he [petitioner] negotiated with the CI to sell her an ounce and a half of cocaine. The [petitioner] and the CI knew each other from grade school and communicated via Facebook where the [petitioner] first sought to sell the CI drugs. When the CI was in Shelbyville, the [petitioner] contacted the CI via text to confirm the arrangement they had made regarding a drug sale. The following day, the CI met with the [petitioner] and, for the first time, Mr. Kelso to discuss more details of the transactions. Following this meeting, the CI met with police, who thoroughly searched her and provided her with a recording device. The CI then contacted the [petitioner] who agreed to meet the CI in her motel room where he was to call Mr. Kelso to learn the exact location of the transaction. After the [petitioner] spoke with Mr. Kelso, the [petitioner] and the CI left the motel and got into her rental car. The CI drove the [petitioner], at the [petitioner's] direction, in a circuitous route around town for approximately a half hour before ultimately arriving at the Bedford Manor Apartments.
At the motel room, throughout the drive, and once at the apartment complex, the [petitioner] attempted to convince the [CI] to give him the money, saying that he would get the drugs and bring them back to her. At the apartment complex, Mr. Kelso stood near the car as the [petitioner] negotiated how the exchange should occur.

Id., slip op. at 9. The trial court sentenced the petitioner to 15 years' incarceration, and this court affirmed the petitioner's conviction on appeal. Id., slip op. at 10. In May 2017, the petitioner filed a petition for "Writ of Error," which the trial court treated as a writ of error coram nobis and denied.

         The petitioner filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief on January 11, 2018. After the appointment of counsel, the petitioner filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief, incorporating the pro se petition and alleging the ineffective assistance of the petitioner's trial and appellate counsel.

         At the June 18, 2018 evidentiary hearing, the petitioner testified that he met with trial counsel four to five times before trial with each meeting lasting approximately 10-15 minutes. The petitioner contended that trial counsel never discussed a trial strategy with him, but, instead, he discussed only whether the petitioner should accept the State's plea offer in light of Ms. Rutledge's testimony. He also said that trial counsel never discussed his investigation of the case with him. The petitioner asked trial counsel to move to suppress ...


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