Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. Honorable Carolyn C. Whittington.
FOR APPELLANT: Scott Thompson, Assistant Public Defender, Office of the Missouri Public Defender, St. Louis, Missouri.
FOR RESPONDENT: Chris Koster, Attorney General, Rachel Flaster, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, Missouri.
Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge. Robert G. Dowd, Jr., J., Concurs, Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., J., Concurs.
Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge
Appellant Reginald Taylor (" Taylor" ) appeals from the judgment of the motion court denying his Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. Taylor pleaded guilty to one count of domestic assault in the first degree and received a suspended sentence of five years' imprisonment. Taylor's probation was subsequently revoked and the trial court executed the five year sentence. On appeal, Taylor argues that the motion court clearly erred in denying his motion for post-conviction relief because Taylor alleged facts not conclusively refuted by the record which would entitle him to relief. Specifically, Taylor alleges he was denied effective assistance of counsel because he was assigned new appointed counsel after his preliminary hearing, and his new counsel was " disinterested" in trying the case, rendering his guilty plea involuntary. Because the record conclusively refutes Taylor's claim, the motion court did not clearly err in denying his Rule 24.035 motion without an evidentiary hearing. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the motion court.
Factual and Procedural History
The State charged Taylor with one count of domestic assault in the second degree. Brooke Curtis (" Curtis" ) was initially appointed as counsel for Taylor. Curtis served as Taylor's attorney until after his preliminary hearing and arraignment, at which point another public defender from the same office, Erica Nuyen (" Nuyen" ), assumed responsibility for Taylor's defense. Nuyen served as Taylor's attorney during plea negotiations and the plea hearing.
On March 23, 2012, pursuant to plea negotiations with the State, Taylor pleaded guilty to one count of domestic assault in the second degree, and received a suspended sentence of five year's imprisonment and probation. At the plea hearing, the trial court asked Taylor several questions about his guilty plea and Nuyen's performance. Taylor confirmed that he understood the crime with which he was charged, that he had apprised Nuyen of all facts and circumstances surrounding the crime, and that Nuyen had fully explained the nature of the charged crime, including the elements and any possible defenses Taylor may have. The State then summarized the evidence it would have presented had the case gone to trial, which Taylor confirmed was correct. The trial court summarized the proposed plea agreement, including the terms associated with Taylor's proposed probation. Taylor stated that he understood the terms of the agreement and understood that if the trial court accepted his guilty plea, he would be placed on probation. Taylor further stated that he understood his probation could be revoked, resulting in the execution of his jail sentence. The trial court confirmed that Taylor still wanted to move forward with his guilty plea, after which the following exchange occurred:
COURT: Has anyone made any promises or threats to you or to your family to induce you to plead guilty?
COURT: Has your attorney refused to comply with any of your requests?
COURT: Has your attorney answered all your questions?
COURT: Have you been given enough time to discuss your case with your attorney?
COURT: Do you have any complaints or criticisms of your attorney?
COURT: Do you know of anything she could have done that she hasn't?
COURT: Do you know of any witnesses she could have contacted but didn't?
COURT: Has your attorney investigated the case to your complete satisfaction?
COURT: Do you believe you have been fully advised by your attorney as to all aspects of your case, including your ...