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Brooks v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 10, 2017

TIMMIE BROOKS A/K/A TIMMY BROOKS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/16/2013

         COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JOHNNIE E. WALLS JR. TRIAL JUDGE

         AFFIRMED

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: TIMMIE BROOKS (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JOSEPH SCOTT HEMLEBEN.

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶1. Timmie Brooks was indicted by a Coahoma County grand jury on one count of capital murder[1] and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. Brooks was subsequently indicted in two separate matters: one count of felony escape, and one count of murder.[2] On February 17, 2010, Brooks, represented by public defender Ricky Lewis, and Ray Carter from the Office of Capital Defense Counsel, filed a petition to plead guilty to capital murder. Brooks's petition shows that in exchange for his guilty plea to capital murder, the State would recommend that the circuit court sentence Brooks to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) without the possibility of parole. The State also agreed to recommend a concurrent life sentence without the possibility of parole, in exchange for Brooks's guilty plea to the other murder charge he faced. Additionally, the State agreed to dismiss the charges of felon in possession of a firearm and another charge of receiving stolen property. On February 18, 2010, Brooks pled guilty to both capital murder and murder. The circuit court sentenced him to concurrent terms of life in MDOC custody without the possibility of parole.

         ¶2. On May 16, 2011, Brooks filed a motion for transcripts and discovery. He then filed a motion to show cause on October 18, 2012, attacking the legality of his sentence. Following no response from the circuit court or receipt of discovery information, Brooks filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Mississippi Supreme Court. On December 8, 2012, in response to Brooks's petition for a writ of mandamus, the circuit court ordered the circuit clerk to send Brooks a copy of the court files. The circuit court also ordered the district attorney's office to send Brooks a copy of the discovery information. The circuit court's order noted that Karen Tanner, the court reporter present during Brooks's arraignment as well as his plea and sentencing hearing, was deceased. A new reporter, Brenda Blackburn, was designated to prepare the transcripts through Tanner's tapes and send them to Brooks. Brooks's petition for a writ of mandamus was then dismissed as moot.

         ¶3. On April 3, 2015, Brooks filed a motion for postconviction relief (PCR) and claimed he received ineffective assistance of counsel when he pled guilty to capital murder because he was "induced, coerced, and threatened into entering his plea." On April 16, 2013, the circuit court denied Brooks's PCR motion. Brooks appealed.

         ¶4. While his appeal was pending, Brooks filed a motion with this Court to compel the production of his guilty-plea-hearing transcript. We granted Brooks's motion and ordered the court reporter to file the transcript. After Brooks twice renewed his motion to compel, we noted that the Clerk of Appellate Courts received a letter from Blackburn stating that she was unable to find the audio recordings necessary to complete the transcript. We then ordered the circuit court to determine the status of the transcript and whether it could be completed, and if not, ordered the circuit court to hold a hearing on the record to supplement the record in accordance with Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 10.

         ¶5. On February 17, 2015, Brooks filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, requesting that this Court compel the circuit court to provide the transcript. We granted Brooks's motion and ordered the circuit court to conduct a Rule 10 hearing within forty-five days. The circuit court accordingly held a hearing to review the status of the transcript and determine whether the transcript could be produced. Brooks, Assistant District Attorney William Gresham, and Lewis were present at the hearing. The circuit court determined that the court reporter's audio tapes and notes needed to prepare the transcript of the plea and sentencing hearing were unavailable and were not likely to become available. As such, the circuit court stated that an additional hearing should be held in order for the parties and witnesses to testify to the facts and events surrounding Brooks's guilty plea.

         ¶6. The hearing was held on August 13, 2015, and October 26, 2015, during which the circuit court heard the testimony of Lewis; Carter; Regina Curry - a mitigation specialist with the Office of Capital Defense who was appointed to assist with Brooks's representation; Michael Carr - the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case against Brooks; the Honorable Kenneth L. Thomas - the circuit judge who had presided over the case and received Brooks's guilty plea; Theresa Thigpen - Judge Thomas's former court administrator; and Brooks. At the beginning of the hearing, Brooks requested an extension of time in order to obtain counsel. His request was denied, and the hearing was conducted. The parties and ...


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