State Court Rules Completed Judicial Diversion Not A Conviction

Friday, April 4, 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


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADKINS, GREGORY SCOTT  401 EASTERLY CIRCLE ROCKY TOP, 37769  Age at Arrest: 39 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- BILLS, JOSHUA TIMOTHY-MICHAEL  1309 DUNCAN AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: ... (click for more)

Corker Gives Statement Ahead Of Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment

Senator Bob Corker on Thursday released the following statement ahead of Affordable Care Act open enrollment, which begins Nov. 1.   “The Affordable Care Act was sold to the American people as a way to bring down health care costs and provide certainty to individuals and companies across our country. Unfortunately, the reality Tennesseans will face as open enrollment ... (click for more)

Accountability Doesn't Have To Be A Bad Word

Am I making a difference? Isn’t that the basic question we all ask ourselves, and seek to demonstrate to others?  Ronald Reagan said:  “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.”   We would argue teachers do not have that problem either.    Educators make a huge difference ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Guess Who Backed Kelly?

Two weeks before the August election where three members of the Hamilton County School Board were angrily replaced, the organizer of what was called “a great way for the (challengers) to raise great money to help them run smart campaigns” made a bold statement. “I'm sure the current board is well-intentioned, but the results are not there," said Paul Brock. "Leadership matters ... (click for more)

CPA Blanks CCS, 1-0, in A-AA State Soccer Semis

MURFREESBORO - The scoring opportunities were few for both teams, but Christ Presbyterian used a shot and a deflection off a defender for a 1-0 win against Chattanooga Christian in an A-AA state semifinal match here Thursday at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex. District 12 player of the year Sarah Sievertsen scored the winning goal in the 54th minute as the Lions advance ... (click for more)

DeBord Happy To Have Kelly, Hurd In Vols' Backfield

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --  Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Larry Scott spoke reporters at Wednesday's press conference in the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio. No. 18 Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) takes on South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) on Saturday at Williams-Brice ... (click for more)