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Roberson v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 26, 2019

OCEAN ROBERSON A/K/A OCEAN TRAVELL ROBERSON APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/26/2018

          TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOSEPH H. LOPER JR. COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: WINSTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OCEAN ROBERSON (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: SCOTT STUART

         EN BANC.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Ocean Travell Roberson, appearing pro se, appeals the Winston County Circuit Court's denial of his motion for postconviction relief (PCR motion). Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In or around March 2015, Roberson was indicted on one count of statutory rape of a child under fourteen-years old in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated Section 97-3-65(1)(b) (Rev. 2014). In May 2015, Roberson pleaded guilty, and the circuit court sentenced him to twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with twelve years suspended and the remaining eight years to serve.

         ¶3. Roberson filed a PCR motion in 2018 alleging that (1) his counsel's representation was ineffective, (2) his indictment was defective and invalid, (3) the State prosecuted him under an invalid indictment, (4) he was improperly convicted under the invalid indictment, and (5) his guilty plea was not voluntarily, knowingly, or intelligently given.[1] The circuit court denied Roberson's PCR motion, and he appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶4. "When reviewing a trial court's denial or dismissal of a PCR motion, we will only disturb the trial court's factual findings if they are clearly erroneous; however, we review the trial court's legal conclusions under a de novo standard of review." Alexander v. State, 228 So.3d 338, 340 (¶7) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Assistance of Counsel

         ¶5. Roberson asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to investigate and object to his indictment. Roberson maintains that the absence of his date of birth and the victim's date of birth rendered the indictment invalid.

         ¶6. "An ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim requires a showing that (1) counsel's performance was deficient, and (2) this deficient performance resulted in prejudice to the defendant." Moore v. State, 248 So.3d 845, 850-51 (¶14) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984)). "In the context of a guilty plea, one must show counsel's errors proximately resulted in the guilty plea and, but for counsel's error, the defendant would not have entered the guilty plea." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         ¶7. Roberson's indictment reads in part:

On or about January 1, 2015, in Winston County, Mississippi, and within the jurisdiction of this court, did willfully, unlawfully, intentionally and feloniously have sexual intercourse with [J.H.], a female child under the age of fourteen (14) years, when she the said [J.H.] was twenty four (24) or more months younger than the said Ocean Travell Roberson, and the said [J.H.] was not the spouse of Ocean Travell Roberson, in violation of Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-65-(1)(b), and against the peace and dignity of the State of Mississippi.

         ¶8. This Court addressed the issue of a trial counselor's failure to object to an indictment in Rush v. State, 811 So.2d 431 (Miss. Ct. App. 2001). In that case, Rush claimed "that his attorney erred in not objecting to the indictment which Rush define[d] as vague and ambiguous." Id. at 435 (¶8). This Court held that Rush's indictment met "the requirements found in [UCRCCC] 7.06[2] governing the form and [the] content of [the] indictment [and was] not vague or ambiguous." Id. at 435 (¶8). As a result, we held that "Rush's attorney did not err in not objecting to a valid indictment." Id.

         ¶9. Here, the record reflects that Roberson's indictment fits the requirements found in Rule 7.06. The rule states the following:

The indictment upon which the defendant is to be tried shall be a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged and shall fully notify the defendant of the nature and cause of the accusation. Formal and technical words are not necessary in an indictment, if the offense can be substantially described without them. An indictment shall also include the following:
1. The name of the accused;
2. The date on which the indictment was filed in court;
3. A statement that the prosecution is brought in the name and by the authority of the State of Mississippi;
4.The county and judicial district in which the indictment is brought;
5. The date and, if applicable, the time at which the offense was alleged to have been committed. Failure to state the correct date shall not ...

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