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Harris v. State

June 11, 1998

JOHNNY HARRIS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



Before Prather, C.j., Banks And Smith, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Smith, Justice, For The Court:

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-A

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/15/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM F. COLEMAN

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION RELIEF

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

This case comes to this Court from the Circuit Court of Hinds County in Johnny Harris appeal from the trial court's denial of his PCR motion. Harris, while on parole for an earlier conviction, was arrested on July 11, 1991 for possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. Harris was indicted and released on bond for the charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, Harris was arrested for violation of his parole agreement and incarcerated. On March 2, 1993, Harris pled guilty to the charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and was sentenced by the Hinds County Circuit Court to serve a fifteen year sentence with the sentence to run concurrent with his previous 1984 conviction and sentence.

On February 29, 1996, Harris filed a Motion for Post-Conviction Relief in the First Judicial District of the Hinds County Circuit Court. In his motion, Harris alleged (1) that his guilty plea was involuntary; (2) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and (3) that his sentence was disproportionate. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion and denied all relief requested, prompting this appeal. We find no merit to Harris' contentions and affirm the trial court.

FACTS On July 11, 1991, Johnny Harris, while on parole for a 1984 conviction, was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. On the following day, Harris was released on a $10,000 bond. Harris was subsequently indicted at the September 1991 Term of the Hinds County Grand Jury for the crime of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Then, on July 6, 1992, Harris was arrested for failure to appear in court on the charge of possession of cocaine. Harris was then appointed counsel to represent him by the Hinds County Circuit Court. However, on December 24, 1992, Harris was able to obtain a $25,000 bond through the services of a private attorney and was released from custody. On January 7, 1993, Harris appeared at the Hinds County courthouse for trial and was arrested for a parole violation. On January 29, 1993, the parole board found that Harris had violated the conditions of his parole and was ordered to serve the remainder of his twenty year sentence for the 1984 conviction.

On March 2, 1993, Harris appeared for trial on the charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. After discussing his case with his court appointed attorney, Harris decided to enter a plea of guilty to the charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. After conducting a guilty plea hearing, the trial court accepted Harris' guilty plea and sentenced Harris to serve fifteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with the sentence to run concurrent with the sentence he was serving for the 1984 conviction.

On February 26, 1993, Harris filed a Motion for Post-Conviction Relief in the Cicrcuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County wherein he alleged (1) that his guilty plea was not voluntarily entered; (2) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and (3) that his sentence was excessive and disproportionate. On March 15, 1996, the trial summarily dismissed the motion without an evidentiary hearing and denied all relief.

Aggrieved, Harris now appeals to this Court and raises the following issues:

I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY CONCLUDING THAT HARRIS' GUILTY PLEA WAS VOLUNTARILY AND INTELLIGENTLY ENTERED.

II. WHETHER HARRIS WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.

III. WHETHER THE STATUTORY SCHEME SET FORTH IN MISS. CODE ANN. § 99-19-21 IS AMBIGUOUS.

IV. WHETHER THE SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE TRIAL COURT WAS DISPROPORTIONATE BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE.

DISCUSSION OF LAW

I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY CONCLUDING THAT HARRIS' GUILTY PLEA WAS VOLUNTARILY ...


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