JAMES RAY SANDERS A/K/A JAMES R. SANDERS A/K/A JAMES SANDERS APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/05/2014
LAFAYETTE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JOHN ANDREW GREGORY TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAMES RAY SANDERS (PRO SE).
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, LADONNA C. HOLLAND.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND MAXWELL, JJ.
¶1. James Sanders appeals the Circuit Court of Lafayette County's summary denial of his pro se motion for post-conviction relief (PCR). Finding no error, we affirm.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2. In May 1999, a grand jury indicted Sanders for capital murder under Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-19(2)(e) (Rev. 2014) for the killing of Charles Kenneth Maness during the commission of an armed robbery. Ultimately, Sanders, represented by appointed counsel, pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of simple murder. The plea petition Sanders executed stated the maximum punishment the court may impose was death and the minimum punishment was "life with parole." The petition also stated that as a result of the plea bargaining, the State would recommend to the trial court that he receive a sentence of "life with parole possible."
¶3. During the guilty-plea hearing, the trial judge questioned Sanders to determine whether his plea was voluntarily and knowingly made. The judge determined it was, and Sanders testified he committed the crime. Sanders also stated that no promises had been made to him "other than possible life without parole, " which was part of the plea agreement with the State. During the sentencing hearing, the trial judge asked Sanders if he understood that once the charge is reduced from capital murder to simple murder, "there is no discretion for the sentence" because "the statute provides for the imposition of a life sentence." Sanders responded that he understood, and he was sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
¶4. In October 2001, Sanders filed his first pro se PCR motion, which the trial court dismissed in May 2002. In August 2002, Sanders requested "work product" from his former defense counsel, who had terminated services in July 2000. During this time, Sanders also filed a complaint with the Mississippi Bar Association against his attorney; however, his attorney claimed he sent Sanders all of the records to which he was entitled regarding his case.
¶5. Sanders appealed the dismissal of his first PCR motion, raising the following issues: his guilty plea was involuntary, as the trial court failed to inform him of the mandatory minimum sentence he would receive for simple murder; he received ineffective assistance of counsel; and he was improperly denied a preliminary hearing. This Court found Sanders's arguments without merit and affirmed the dismissal. See Sanders v. State, 847 So.2d 903, 907 (¶23) (Miss. Ct. App. 2003).
¶6. Subsequently, in February 2014, Sanders filed with the trial court the PCR motion currently before this Court, entitled "Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct the Judgment or Sentence." In this second motion, Sanders argued that his counsel was ineffective for various reasons, and such ineffectiveness rose to the level of violating his constitutional rights, thereby excepting his motion from any procedural bars. The trial court denied Sanders's motion, finding it successive and time-barred. The trial court also found Sanders was not entitled to any relief on ...