Petition for certiorari filed at, 03/31/2015
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/13/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JEFF WEILL, SR.
FOR APPELLANT: ANTONIO WILLIAMS (Pro se).
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: STEPHANIE B. WOOD.
LAMAR, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI
¶1. Antonio Williams filed a motion for post-conviction relief in the Hinds County Circuit Court. The circuit judge summarily denied his motion, and Williams appealed. We assigned his case to the Court of Appeals, which dismissed his motion for lack of jurisdiction. We granted Williams's petition for certiorari, and we now affirm the circuit judge's denial of his motion on the merits.
¶2. In 1982, Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary. The trial judge sentenced him to three years' imprisonment on one count, and five years' imprisonment on the other count. Then, in 1987, a jury convicted Williams of murder. The trial judge sentenced him to life without parole as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-81, based on his two prior burglary convictions. This Court affirmed Williams's murder conviction in 1990. See Williams v. State, 566 So.2d 469 (Miss. 1990). Williams subsequently filed several motions for post-conviction relief challenging his murder conviction, but those motions are irrelevant to this appeal.
¶3. On May 24, 2012, Williams filed a motion for post-conviction relief in the Hinds County Circuit Court. In it, Williams--for the first time--challenged his burglary convictions. Williams argued that " during the entry of his guilty pleas," he was " denied his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel." Specifically, Williams argued that his counsel failed to inform him of an alleged speedy-trial violation before advising him to plead guilty to one of the counts. According to Williams, " this was an affirmative defense that was available to [him], and had [his] trial counsel properly advised [him] of this affirmative defense, [he] would not have entered a plea of guilty to that charge." Williams also argued that his trial counsel " used coercion by promising [him] a suspended sentence" in the second count, when a suspended sentence allegedly was not statutorily available.
¶4. Williams concluded that, because of the alleged Sixth Amendment violation, his guilty pleas could not " be considered to have been given voluntarily and intelligently." Thus, Williams posited, because of his counsel's ineffectiveness, his " conviction and sentences [in the burglary cases] were illegal sentences." Finally, Williams argued that he had been prejudiced by the alleged ineffectiveness, because his burglary convictions had been " used to charge [him] as an habitual offender [in his murder case]." He asked the circuit court to render both burglary convictions " null and void."
¶5. The circuit judge summarily denied Williams's motion, stating that " it plainly appears from the face of the motion, exhibits and prior proceedings in this case, that [Williams] is not entitled to post-conviction collateral relief, pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-27." The circuit judge did not elaborate on his reasons for the denial, but it is clear from the language of his order that the denial was on the merits. It is also ...