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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jun 6, 2013

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Vickie Sutton Trull, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brenda Faye Brewington.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence R. Whitley, District Attorney General, and Sallie Wade Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): SMITH

Brenda Faye Brewington, Petitioner, was convicted by a Sumner County jury of two counts of aggravated child abuse of children age eight and under and two counts of child neglect of children under age six. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to an effective sentence of twenty-five years to be served at 100 percent. Petitioner was unsuccessful on direct appeal. State v. Brenda Faye Brewington and Brian Dewayne Brewington, No. M2007-01725-CCAR3- CD, 2009 WL 142321 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Jan. 21, 2009). Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied the petition after an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying her petition and that she received ineffective assistance of counsel because her trial counsel was a Sumner County constable at the time he represented her. She argues that his representation was deficient because there is a statutory prohibition on the practice of law by constables in the county for which they serve and that there is an inherent conflict when an attorney is a constable and represents a client for criminal charges. She also argues that this deficiency resulted in prejudice. We conclude that there is no statutory prohibition on the practice of law by a constable. However, such a situation does constitute a conflict so that representation of a client by a constable would be below the competence required of criminal representation. Nonetheless, the post-conviction court did not err in denying the petition because Petitioner was unable to prove that she was prejudiced by the deficient representation provided by trial counsel. Therefore, we affirm the denial of the petition.