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Smith v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

October 30, 2014

DONALD KEITH SMITH a/k/a DONALD SMITH a/k/a DONALD K. SMITH
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

 

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/05/2012.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/25/2012.

Page 1028

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DALE HARKEY.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT P. KREBS.

DONALD KEITH SMITH, APPELLANT, Pro se.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: LISA L. BLOUNT.

CHANDLER, JUSTICE. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON, P.J., KITCHENS AND KING, JJ., CONCUR. COLEMAN, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY RANDOLPH, P.J.; LAMAR AND PIERCE, JJ., JOIN IN PART.

OPINION

Page 1029

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST-CONVICTION RELIEF

CHANDLER, JUSTICE.

¶1. Under Uniform Rule of Circuit and County Court Practice 9.06, a mental evaluation and competency hearing are mandatory if the trial court has a reasonable ground to believe the defendant is incompetent to stand trial. URCCC 9.06. Before Donald Keith Smith entered a guilty plea in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, the trial court ordered a mental evaluation of Smith that never was performed. The record is silent as to the reason the trial court ordered the mental evaluation. We granted Smith's petition for certiorari on his post-conviction claim that the trial court had erred by accepting his guilty plea without a completed mental evaluation and competency hearing. Because a mental evaluation and hearing were required if the trial court ordered the mental evaluation to assess Smith's competence to stand trial, we reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of why the trial court ordered a mental evaluation.

FACTS

¶2. Smith was indicted for two counts of kidnapping, one count of armed carjacking, and one count of felony evading a police officer. The record reveals the following concerning the trial court's order of a mental evaluation for Smith. His case was set for trial on November 13, 2008. On that date, Smith orally moved for a continuance and a psychiatric examination. Because the proceedings before the trial court were not transcribed, the grounds for the motion are not in the record. The court granted the motion and ordered " that Defendant be examined by some competent psychiatrist(s) for a determination of Defendant's mental and/or psychiatric

Page 1030

condition." The order contained no explanation of the reason for the mental evaluation. The order continued the trial " until a psychiatric evaluation can be conducted and a report generated." The same day, the trial court entered an agreed order of continuance that stated " Defendant is to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at his own expense and the parties need additional time for plea negotiations." The agreed order continued the trial until March 3, 2009. On November 21, 2008, the court entered another agreed order granting Smith's motion for a continuance until March 3, 2009, for the purpose of obtaining a mental examination of Smith. On January 29, 2009, an order was entered for Smith to be transferred from the Jackson County Adult Detention Center to the Mississippi State Hospital for evaluation on February 7, 2009.

¶3. No further information concerning the mental evaluation appears in the record of the guilty-plea proceedings. On March 3, 2009, the trial court entered another agreed order of continuance on the basis of ongoing plea negotiations. Another agreed order of continuance was entered on April 9, 2009, setting a trial date of June 3, 2009. On June 3, 2009, Smith filed a petition to plead guilty to one count of kidnapping, armed carjacking, and felony fleeing. At the plea hearing that day, Smith stated that he had been treated for depression and " psychosis or something like that," and was taking medication for those conditions. The trial court found Smith's guilty plea was knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made. The trial court accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Smith according to the State's recommendation: for kidnapping, to thirty years with twelve years suspended and eighteen years to serve, for armed carjacking, to thirty years with twelve years suspended and eighteen years to serve, and for felony fleeing, to five years, with all sentences to run concurrently. The trial court also ordered that Smith be placed in the Therapeutic Community Treatment Program, that he have a full mental-health examination while incarcerated, and that he must take all prescribed medications.

¶4. On December 14, 2011, Smith filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief (PCR), attacking his armed-carjacking conviction. The trial court dismissed the motion for PCR and Smith appealed. He filed a second, successive pro se motion for PCR on February 22, 2012, arguing that the trial court had erred by accepting his guilty plea because the mental evaluation ordered by the court never had been performed, and no competency hearing had occurred. In this motion for PCR, Smith averred that it was unclear to him why the mental evaluation never had been performed. He stated that his attorney had told his parents the evaluation would cost $2,000. Smith stated that he was taken to the Mississippi State Hospital on February 7, 2009, but " was promptly returned to jail" after being told that no psychiatrist was available. He argued that the trial court should not have accepted his guilty plea because he was " mentally incompetent to fully understand the proceedings against him." He also argued that his attorney, Victor Carmody, had provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to investigate his mental condition and pursue a mental evaluation.

¶5. Smith attached affidavits from his parents. In their affidavits, both parents stated that Smith had been institutionalized numerous times for drug addiction and bipolar disorder, and for self-mutilation after he had slashed his arms with a razor. Smith's father additionally stated that Smith had been prescribed drugs for bipolar disorder. Smith's father stated that Smith had been transported to the Mississippi State Hospital for a mental

Page 1031

evaluation, but he was not seen by a doctor and was returned to jail. He averred that Smith's attorney had called him and said it would cost $2,000 for the mental evaluation, but they did not have the money.

¶6. The trial court dismissed Smith's motion for PCR as successive. See Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-23(6) (Rev. 2007). Alternatively, the trial court held that no competency hearing had been required because the court never had made a finding that reasonable ground existed as to Smith's competency. Smith appealed. This Court assigned both of Smith's appeals to the Court of Appeals, which consolidated them and affirmed the dismissal of the motions for PCR. Smith v. State,  [published in full-text format at 149 So.3d 1048,] 2013 WL 3799825, at *8 (Miss. Ct. App. Feb. 18, 2014). Smith filed a pro se petition for certiorari, which this Court granted. We limit our review to Smith's claim ...


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