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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jun 28, 2013

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Jennifer A. Deen, Trenton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerry Louis Fitzgerald, Jr.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; and Garry Brown, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): SMITH

Petitioner, Jerry Louis Fitzgerald, Jr., was indicted in March of 2008 by the Gibson County Grand Jury for possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, unlawful sale of over .5 grams of cocaine, and unlawful delivery of over .5 grams of cocaine. Petitioner ultimately entered guilty pleas to three counts of selling over .5 grams of cocaine. As a result of the guilty pleas, he was sentenced to twenty years for each count, to be served concurrently, for a total effective sentence of twenty years. Following the entry of judgment, Petitioner filed a pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied without a hearing. Petitioner appealed. See State v. Louis Fitzgerald, Jr., No. W2009- 02520-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 703, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 20, 2010). This Court remanded the case for a hearing on the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. On remand, the trial court held a hearing and again denied the motion. There was no direct appeal from this denial. Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief in November of 2011, seeking a delayed appeal from the denial of the motion to withdraw the guilty pleas. In June of 2012, a consent order was entered allowing a delayed appeal from the denial of the motion to withdraw the guilty pleas. On appeal, Petitioner challenges the trial court’s denial of the motion to withdraw his guilty pleas because the trial court failed to determine: (1) whether Petitioner was denied effective counsel; (2) whether the plea was knowingly and involuntarily made; and (3) whether manifest injustice exists as a ground for withdrawal of the pleas. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to withdraw the guilty pleas where there was substantial evidence in the record to support the trial court’s conclusion. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.