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Austin v. State

March 09, 1999

WILLIE LEE AUSTIN APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE



Before Bridges, C.j., Coleman, And Irving, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bridges, C.j.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/08/1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. RICHARD WAYNE MCKENZIE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: FORREST COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION RELIEF

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: 12/08/1997: DENIAL TO WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA

¶1. Willie Lee Austin pled guilty to the crime of burglary and was sentenced as a habitual offender to a term of seven years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole. Aggrieved, Austin argues on appeal (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and (2) the trial court failed to provide him a transcript of the plea hearing to prepare his post-conviction relief motion. Finding no merit to the issues raised, we affirm.

FACTS

¶2. The record reflects on April 1, 1996, several defendants were before the Forrest County Circuit Court to enter pleas of guilty. The trial Judge called Austin forward and stated that Austin was charged with the crime of burglary as a habitual criminal. The circuit clerk administered the oath to all the defendants after which the trial Judge individually questioned Austin. In response to the Judge's questioning, Austin, age 36, testified that he had twelve years of education and had been employed as a factory worker. Although the trial Judge then questioned the entire group of defendants, the transcript of the hearing included only Austin's responses to the Judge's questions. Austin stated that he was not under the influence of drugs or intoxicants, and that he understood the nature and the consequences of the charge against him.

¶3. The trial Judge addressed Austin: "Willie Lee Austin, did you commit the crime of Burglary; and do you understand you are being charged under that crime as a habitual offender?" To which Austin replied, "Yes, sir."

¶4. To the trial Judge's questions Austin responded he understood the minimum and the maximum sentences that could be imposed in his case. He understood that by entering a guilty plea he waived his right to appeal, his right against self-incrimination, his right to a jury trial, his right to have the State prove the case against him beyond a reasonable doubt, his right to confront the witnesses against him, and his rights to testify or not testify.

¶5. Austin admitted he committed the crime and testified that his plea was not the result of threats or promises. His attorney testified Austin had been advised of and fully understood his constitutional and statutory rights. Austin testified he was satisfied with the services of his attorney, his attorney made no threats or promises to get him to plead guilty, and he had been properly represented by his attorney.

¶6. Austin further stated his testimony was true and he was pleading guilty because he was, in fact, guilty. Austin knew of no reason why the trial Judge should reject his plea.

¶7. The record indicates that, thereafter, the "defendants were before the court individually with their attorneys." Austin, once again, admitted his guilt. In light of the fact that Austin was charged as a habitual offender under Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-81 (Rev. 1994), a bifurcated hearing was held to establish proof that Austin was, in fact, a habitual offender. The trial Judge sentenced Austin to seven years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections as a habitual offender which was the maximum sentence for the crime of burglary.

ΒΆ8. Austin filed a motion for post conviction relief and three motions to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court summarily denied the motions on December 8, 1997, finding them to be without merit. Austin now ...


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