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.

 


Many Waldens Ridge Scenes Featured In Stokes Picture Book

A number of early views of Waldens Ridge are among the rarities found in the Stokes Photo Collection. There are many photos of the roads up the mountain showing streetcars, wagons and early autos. There are scenes at Rainbow Lake, Falling Water Falls, Signal Point and other scenic spots. Several photos are included of the Signal Mountain Hotel. The more than 700 photos ... (click for more)

2 Known Meth Distributors Arrested In Catoosa County

Two have been arrested in Catoosa County on drug charges.   Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted a traffic stop on Wednesday, at 7 p.m., on Highway 41 in Ringgold. During the stop, deputies seized two pounds of methamphetamine, which has an estimated street value of $30,000. Deputies arrested Jesus Humberto Lopez Deanda, 27, of Lilburn, Ga., and ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill - And Response

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Policeman’s Prayer

Every year, when the Law Enforcement Foundation of Greater Chattanooga holds its annual luncheon, it is one of the most heartening displays of what America really believes, down deep inside. The most prominent and influential leaders in the community – well over 1,000 -- gather to pay tribute and pledge their support to our heroes in blue who are unfaltering in their devotion, service ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Advances In State Volleyball

SMYRNA, Tenn. – It’s a good thing that Signal Mountain volleyball coach Jennifer Redman is a young lady because her heart might not be able to stand the pressure if she wasn’t. Redman’s Lady Eagles were thisclose to being sent to the loser’s bracket in the opening round of the State Volleyball Tournament here at Stewarts Creek High School Wednesday afternoon. Had it been ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Sweeps Loretto To Open Class A State Volleyball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Playing what coach Alfie Dodd called a sub-par match, Boyd-Buchanan’s Lady Bucs were still good enough to sweep Loretto, 3-0, Wednesday morning in the opening match of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class A state volleyball tournament at Blackman High School. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-20. “We advance and we know we can ... (click for more)