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 TNCourts.gov.

 


Soddy Daisy Man Facing Child Rape Charge

A 26-year-old Soddy Man is facing child rape charges. Ricky Minor was indicted by the Hamilton County Grand Jury on three counts of rape and two counts of child rape. The indictment said the case involved a girl aged between four and 12 years old.   (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Arrest Serial Burglar, Terry Highfield

The Chattanooga Police Department has linked one individual to eight burglaries which occurred beginning on March 5 through last Friday. On Friday ,  CPD officers were in search of a white Ford Ranger and located it at 7707 Lee Highway (Motel Six). The vehicle was registered to Terry Highfield, 59.     Following the discovery of the vehicle CPD Property ... (click for more)

The Heart Of A Teacher Makes A Difference - And Response (2)

In less than four weeks, I expect to be one of 216 graduating seniors from East Hamilton School. One could say all possible variables help a student rise to the highest levels in school; but a student is more than his environment or genetic code. He is a mixture of his own propensity and dedication to academics, coupled with a systemic team of mentors who give their all as a student’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The P.S. To A Sad Story

Back in the days when we were determined that the Chattanooga News-Free Press would have the best sports section in the country, I was traveling a whole lot. For example, back then I would be leaving today or tomorrow for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, this after hardly recovering from a week spent at The Masters. And, as it happens with those who are constantly in search for tomorrow’s ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy Softball Rally Thumps Baylor, 10-3

The Soddy Daisy Lady Trojans felt right at home Monday afternoon at Baylor. These two softball teams are annually among the best in the state and they've had some memorable games in years past, but Monday's game was all Soddy Daisy. Baylor scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning before the Lady Trojans sent 11 hitters to the plate in the third where they scored ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy Netters Defeat Bradley County

The defending district champion Soddy Daisy girls (9-0) defeated Bradley County, 9-0, Monday, while the Trojan boys (2-8) were also victorious against Bradley Central., 7-2. Chloe Mitchell claimed an 8-0 win against Haylee Pell in No.1 singles while Jared Elrod of Bradley Central stopped Robert Sneed, 8-2, in the boys' No.1 singles match. The Soddy Daisy ... (click for more)