State Court Rules Completed Judicial Diversion Not A Conviction

Friday, April 04, 2014

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a guilty plea expunged after successful completion of judicial diversion is not considered a conviction and would not be subject to review in post-conviction proceedings.

The case involves Jose Rodriguez, a Mexican citizen who in 2007 entered a guilty plea for patronizing a prostitute in the Nashville area and was placed on judicial diversion.  Mr. Rodriguez completed his diversion, and his criminal record was expunged in January 2010.

Later that year, the United States Supreme Court held that the Constitution requires an attorney to inform non-citizen clients of the potential immigration consequences of a guilty plea.  In 2011, Mr. Rodriguez filed a post-conviction petition, alleging he would not have pleadwd guilty had he known that there may be immigration consequences to his plea.

A trial court ruled that Mr. Rodriguez waited more than the one year allowed by law to file his post-conviction petition and, on appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that a petitioner whose records have been expunged may not seek post-conviction relief.

The Tennessee Supreme Court recognized that the Post-Conviction Act, which provides an avenue of relief to a defendant whose conviction was obtained in violation of a state or federal constitutional right, does not define the term “conviction.” The Act, however, requires the entry of a “judgment of conviction,” which includes a guilty plea, a formal adjudication by the trial court, and the imposition of a sentence. When a person completes judicial diversion, a judgment of conviction is never entered.  The Court therefore concluded that “a guilty plea expunged following successful completion of judicial diversion is not a conviction within the meaning of the Post-Conviction Act.” Because Mr. Rodriguez did not have a conviction, he is not entitled to post-conviction relief.

To read the opinion in Jose Rodriguez v. Tennessee authored by Justice Janice M. Holder, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.

 


Burglary Suspects Arrested By Chance, Due To Malfunctioning Tag Lights

Hamilton County deputies arrested burglary suspects by chance after pulling over a vehicle because of malfunctioning tag lights on July 25. When deputies walked up to the vehicle, they noticed the rear seat passenger making very sudden movements. They also saw him stuff something into a back pack.  While at the window, deputies noticed a large knife lying out in the ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Arrested On Child Rape Charges

A Chattanooga man was taken into custody after he admitted to police that he raped his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. According to police, the young girl was with her grandmother the following day and told her what her father, Michael Skellenger, had done.  Her grandmother immediately rushed her to the hospital for an examination. They were directed to the Children's ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Scottsboro’s Pat Trammell

I got a warm feeling Tuesday when it was announced Pat Trammell will be among those in the inaugural class of the Jackson County (Ala.) Sports Hall of Fame. When the august group is enshrined at Scottsboro’s Goose Pond Civic Center on Nov. 1, most folks won’t even know who Pat Trammell was but I knew all about him in my very first year as a fledgling sports writer back in 1967 and, ... (click for more)

Recap of 17 Stop, Prep Football Tour

Starting at Soddy Daisy at 7:44 a.m. and leaving Silverdale 14 hours later ( 9:58 p.m.), the fifth annual Chattanoogan.com prep football tour made whistle stops at 17 schools covering 220 miles.   The Chattanooga Jamboree is Aug. 15-16 at Finley Stadium and the season openers are Thurs. Aug. 21   - Cleveland vs. McCallie (Finley Stadium) ... (click for more)

NPSL National Championship To Be Played At Red Bulls Arena

The NPSL announced on Monday that the national championship match between Chattanooga FC and the Red Bulls U23 will be played on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  The match will be played following an MLS match between New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution.   Local fans took to social media to appeal for the game to be played in Chattanooga. ... (click for more)