Before Bridges, C.j., Herring, Hinkebein, And King, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herring, J.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: MAY 20, 1997
TRIAL JUDGE: HONORABLE LEE J. HOWARD
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION RELIEF
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: POST-CONVICTION RELIEF DENIED
DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 12/18/1998
¶1. Richard Smith filed a motion for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, Mississippi, after the court revoked his probation and imposed a previously suspended sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The circuit court denied Smith's requested relief, and he now appeals to this Court alleging that (1) he was deprived of his liberty interest without due process of law; and (2) his guilty plea was involuntary because he was not warned of the possible revocation of probation in connection with a separate, prior offense. We find that these assignments of error are without merit, and therefore, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of Smith's petition for post-conviction relief.
¶2. On May 25, 1995, Richard Smith pled guilty in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, Mississippi, to the crime of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The trial court sentenced Smith to a term of twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections; however, the court suspended the sentence and placed Smith on probation for a period of five years. The court subjected Smith's probation and the suspension of his sentence to several conditions, including the following: "[The] Defendant shall hereafter commit no offense against the laws of this or any state of the United States."
¶3. On July 14, 1995, Smith entered a guilty plea in the Circuit Court of Clay County, Mississippi, to the charge of sale of cocaine. Smith allegedly committed the offense in August, 1994, nine months prior to entering his plea of guilty in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. During the guilty plea arraignment, the trial court Judge informed Smith of the maximum and minimum sentences for sale of cocaine and questioned whether Smith's plea was the result of threats, coercion, or other improper influences. The Judge also explained to Smith that he would be waiving certain rights by entering a guilty plea to the charge. Smith admitted that he committed the offense, and he affirmatively answered the questions posed by the court.
¶4. After accepting Smith's second guilty plea, the trial court Judge requested a sentencing recommendation from the State. The State suggested that Smith serve a term of three years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections based upon his cooperation in another investigation. Additionally, the State advised the Judge in the presence of Smith that a motion to revoke the defendant's probation would be filed in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County at the Conclusion of the current proceedings. After further questioning the defendant, the court followed the State's recommendation and sentenced Smith to three years in prison.
¶5. On August 24, 1995, the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, Mississippi, conducted revocation proceedings in open court. Although the trial court informed Smith of his right to a hearing, Smith, through his attorney, stated that he would "confess the petition" filed by the State. The court subsequently reviewed a copy of the Clay County conviction and took judicial notice of the court file. Thereafter, the court revoked Smith's probation and suspended sentence and ordered Smith to serve twenty years for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, to run consecutively to the three year sentence which Smith received in the Clay County Circuit Court.
¶6. Smith subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that the trial court improperly revoked his probation and suspended sentence. Smith claimed that he was deprived of his liberty interest without due process of law since the revocation was based on an event that transpired prior to the imposition of his probation. He also asserted that his guilty plea to the first charge (conspiracy to distribute cocaine) was not voluntary because he was not warned of the possibility that his probation and suspended sentence would be revoked if he pleaded guilty to the second charge (sale of cocaine).
¶7. The trial court Judge then directed the State to file an answer to Smith's petition for post-conviction relief. After reviewing the petition, the record, and other relevant documents, including the case of Berdin v. State, 648 So. 2d 73 (Miss. 1994), the trial court concluded that there were no "due process violations" and determined that there was no need ...