Before Bridges, C.j., Payne, And Southwick, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Southwick, J.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/05/1997
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. MICHAEL R. EUBANKS
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MARION COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION RELIEF
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: POST CONVICTION RELIEF DENIED.
DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 12/18/1998
¶1. Christopher Thompson was refused post-conviction relief in the Marion County Circuit Court. On appeal, he asserts that his guilty plea had not been intelligently and voluntarily given. Additionally, Thompson contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. We find no merit in Thompson's appeal and affirm.
¶2. Christopher Thompson pled guilty to two counts of armed robbery. His plea was taken along with those of eight other co-defendants who pled to similar charges. At the plea hearing, Thompson stated that he understood that he was required to tell the truth or be prosecuted for the crime of perjury. In response to the circuit court's questions he indicated that he was eighteen years old, "made it to the eleventh grade," that he knew how to read and write, that he read and understood his petition to enter a guilty plea, and that he was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Thompson also stated that he understood the charges against him, and the minimum and maximum sentences involved, that his attorney had reviewed the charges and applicable sentences with him and had spent a sufficient amount of time doing so, and that he had confidence in his attorney. After acknowledging his rights, Thompson waived jury trial and pled guilty to two charges of armed robbery. He indicated to the court that he was entering his guilty pleas because he was guilty of the charges against him.
¶3. The State agreed not to prosecute Thompson on a third armed robbery charge. So that Thompson would be eligible for parole, the State also agreed to a finding by the trial court that Thompson did not display a deadly weapon during the armed robbery incidents. The court sentenced Thompson to serve concurrent terms of twenty years on count one and thirty years on count two.
¶4. Thompson raised a number of issues in his petition for post- conviction relief involving the validity of his guilty plea. The circuit court dismissed the majority of Thompson's allegations and found that Thompson's plea was in fact intelligently and voluntarily entered. The court, however, granted Thompson an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether Thompson received ineffective assistance of counsel. Thompson contended that his counsel inappropriately instructed him to conceal a promise made to him that he would receive a sentence of six months in the county jail. In response to the motion, the State submitted the affidavit of Morris Sweatt, Thompson's trial counsel, in which Sweatt denied expressing to Thompson that he would receive a six month sentence. Rather, Sweatt advised Thompson that he would receive a sentence between three years and less than life for each armed robbery charge, but he would be eligible for parole.
¶5. After the circuit court dismissed most of his claims on October 4, 1996, Thompson filed on March 10, 1997 an "Amended and/or Supplemental motion to Vacate and Set-Aside Sentence." In his amended pleading, Thompson asserted, among other things, that his counsel instructed him that he would receive a sentence of no more than fifteen years. That of course is a change from the complaint that he had been promised a six month sentence. Thompson also made new arguments disputing his knowledge of the actual charge and its consequences, although the only issue the circuit court reserved for the evidentiary hearing was whether his plea was induced by his counsel's representations that he would receive a six month sentence.
¶6. An evidentiary hearing was held, and Thompson was given the opportunity to question Sweatt. No transcript appears in the record, though the documentary evidence does. In the final order dated June 5, 1997, the court noted that at the hearing, Sweatt denied ever telling Thompson that he would ...