Supreme Court Denies Relief To Defendant Seeking Third Appeal

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court has denied a request by a defendant seeking a third appeal of his sentence in a drunk driving case in which two people were killed in Knoxville in 2000. Guadalupe Arroyo petitioned the court for post-conviction relief, contending his trial attorney was ineffective by depriving him of his right to appeal a third sentencing order.

Mr. Arroyo pleaded guilty in 2002 to two counts of vehicular homicide after he drove drunk and killed two people in an automobile accident in Knoxville. The trial judge sentenced him to two consecutive 12-year terms for an effective sentence of 24 years. Mr. Arroyo’s trial counsel twice appealed Mr. Arroyo’s sentence to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, which each time sent the case back to the trial court to provide reasons for the consecutive sentencing. However, Mr. Arroyo’s trial counsel did not file a third appeal.

Mr. Arroyo filed a petition under the Tennessee Post-Conviction Procedure Act, asserting his trial counsel was ineffective and never filed a written waiver of appeal as required under the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, and did not consult with him about a third appeal. However, trial counsel testified at the post-conviction hearing that he spoke to Mr. Arroyo about the futility of filing a third appeal, and Mr. Arroyo did not object. The trial court found trial counsel more credible than Mr. Arroyo and denied post-conviction relief. The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed.

The Tennessee Supreme Court also denied Mr. Arroyo post-conviction relief. Justice Sharon G. Lee explained in the majority opinion that Mr. Arroyo’s trial counsel should have filed a written waiver of appeal, but that the failure to file a written waiver is not by itself deficient performance. Justice Lee determined that Mr. Arroyo failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know of his right to appeal or otherwise did not waive that right.

Chief Justice Gary R. Wade wrote a dissenting opinion, finding that Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(d)(2) required Mr. Arroyo’s trial counsel to file a written waiver of appeal. Chief Justice Wade further determined that trial counsel’s statement that Mr. Arroyo “pretty much” or “more or less” agreed to waive an appeal did not qualify as “clear and unambiguous evidence” of waiver. Chief Justice Wade would have granted Mr. Arroyo a delayed appeal under the Post-Conviction Procedure Act.


Alexander Says Supreme Court Right To Block Obama Clean Power Plan

Senator Lamar Alexander agreed U.S. Supreme Court was right to block the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan until legal challenges to the law are resolved. “The Supreme Court was right to stop implementation of the Obama administration’s arbitrary energy plan that favors unreliable wind power over more reliable clean sources of energy like nuclear power. The best path ... (click for more)

Speed Networking Membership Luncheon Is Feb. 23

Walker County Chamber of Commerce will host a speed networking luncheon Feb. 23 with special guest and emcee Kim Carson from Sunny 92.3 FM.  It will be held at the Walker County Civic Center from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Attendees have the opportunity to network face-to-face with each guest, exchanging business cards and information about their respective businesses to gain contacts ... (click for more)

WWTA, Grimes, Clem Lambasted At Boyd Public Forum

Over 50 people turned out Tuesday night on a meeting called by County Commissioner Tim Boyd over issues with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA), and many took turns lambasting the agency, director Cleveland Grimes and attorney Chris Clem. Commissioner Boyd said at the end of the hour and a half session at the East Ridge Community Center, "If less ... (click for more)

City Facing Millions In Catchup Costs For Fire And Police Pension Fund

City Council members were told Tuesday they are facing millions of dollars in catchup costs for the fire and police pension fund. Pension fund officials said the city will need to invest some $1.6 million per year more with the fund to keep up with the latest state requirement. Frank Hamilton said the fund has been at a level of about 60 percent of obligations, but that needs ... (click for more)

Rick Smith Should Not Be Paid To Leave

Taxpayers of Hamilton County should take note that a majority of the members of the school board are getting ready to give Rick Smith the buyout that he wants.  Do you agree that someone should be paid for taking the coward's way out?  Rick Smith should be fired for cause. Not paid to leave.   If you don't want the board members to pay him off, call or ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Grab The Reaching Hand

Three of Tennessee’s largest four cities are now searching for school superintendents. Jesse Register retired last June and, after botching the first attempt, Nashville city leaders are intensely helping the Board of Education in a search for the best candidate. In Knoxville and Chattanooga the superintendents have resigned, both under a cloud, and now the leaders of the ‘2.0’ initiative ... (click for more)