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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 21, 2017

ALISON NICOLE WILLIAMS A/K/A ALISON RAZIANO A/K/A RAZ A/K/A ALISON WILLIAMS A/K/A ALISON NICOLE WILLIAMS RAZIANO WALTON APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/21/2016

         DESOTO COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. GERALD W. CHATHAM SR. TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: WANDA TURNER-LEE ABIOTO

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ALICIA MARIE AINSWORTH

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          CARLTON, J.

         ¶1. Alison Williams appeals the DeSoto County Circuit Court's denial of her motion for postconviction relief (PCR). In her PCR motion, Williams alleged that she was mentally ill and incompetent during the plea hearing and sentencing, and, as a result, her guilty plea was not voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently made. The trial court denied Williams's PCR motion as a successive writ under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-39-23(6) (Rev. 2015).

         ¶2. Williams now appeals, claiming that the discovery of new evidence and an intervening decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court exempt her claim from the successive-writ procedural bar. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         FACTS

         ¶3. Williams pleaded guilty to armed robbery on June 29, 2012. On September 7, 2012, the trial court sentenced Williams to serve ten years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) and ten years of postrelease supervision, with five years' reporting and five years' nonreporting.

         ¶4. Williams filed her first PCR motion on November 22, 2013, which the trial court denied. Williams then appealed to this Court. In affirming the trial court's denial of Williams's first PCR motion, this Court addressed Williams's claim that her plea was involuntary as follows:

In her PCR motion, Williams argued that there was no factual basis to support her plea and that her trial counsel's assistance was ineffective. She did not include the argument that her plea was involuntary. Because Williams did not include the claim that her plea was involuntary in her PCR motion, she is procedurally barred from presenting it now to this Court.

Williams v. State, 163 So.3d 993, 995 (¶3) (Miss. Ct. App. 2015).

         ¶5. This Court also addressed Williams's argument in her first PCR motion that "the trial court's failure to consider Williams's mental state at the time of her plea was plain error affecting her substantive rights and resulted in a manifest miscarriage of justice." Id. at (¶4). The Williams court found that Williams failed to "allege facts to support her allegation that she was operating under a defect of reason, or how the prescription drugs adversely affected her." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). This Court explained: "The mere fact that [Williams] was taking prescription medication . . . does not automatically mean she was operating under a defect of reason. Furthermore, there is nothing to indicate that she was suffering from a mental illness at the time of her plea." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         ¶6. Williams filed a second PCR motion on September 8, 2015, asserting that her plea was involuntary and also claiming that she had obtained evidence not reasonably discoverable at the time she entered her guilty plea.[1] Williams attached several documents to her PCR motion, including the following: her medical records; a copy of the indictment; the sentencing order; her guilty-plea petition; a curriculum vitae of a pharmacist; drug information from the website www.drugs.com; an affidavit of her adoptive mother, Beverly Williams; an article titled "The Genetics of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence"; jail records; and an evaluation in letter form from a psychiatrist. The trial court denied Williams's PCR motion on June 21, 2016, after finding that her PCR motion constituted a successive writ under section 99-39-23(6).[2] The trial court also held that "Williams has not produced evidence as to an exception to the [successive-writ] bar."[3]

         ¶7. The trial court also explained in its order that Williams claimed that her medical records constituted newly discovered evidence under section 99-39-23(6). The trial court stated that after reviewing Williams's PCR motion and the "new evidence, " it found the following:

There is nothing in the record which suggests that this information could not have been discovered at the time of Williams'[s] plea or at the latest when Williams filed her first [PCR motion]. Williams'[s] mother's affidavit states that she did not know the extent of her daughter's drug problems at the time of her plea, but she does not even state that Williams'[s] plea should be set aside, only that her sentence should be mitigated. The [s]upreme [c]ourt in Smith v. State held that claims of mental competency were not subject to the procedural bars of the [Uniform Postconviction Collateral Relief Act (UPCCRA)]. Smith v. ...

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