Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Cause No.
1422-CC09507 Honorable Philip D. Heagney
Colleen Dolan, Judge.
Ballard, ("Movant"), appeals the denial of his
amended Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief without
an evidentiary hearing. In his first point, Movant contends
the motion court erred because he pled facts establishing
ineffective assistance of counsel in that his counsel had an
actual conflict by accepting legal fees from a complaining
witness in the underlying case, and plea counsel coerced
Movant into pleading guilty by stating he could not afford to
go to trial. In his second point, Movant alleges plea counsel
was ineffective in that he failed to adequately advise
Movant, and failed to sufficiently investigate the case as
instructed by Movant. For both points, Movant claims he would
not have pleaded guilty had plea counsel been effective and
plea counsel's deficiencies rendered Movant's guilty
plea unknowing, unintelligent and involuntary. We affirm the
motion court's decision.
Factual and Procedural Background
28, 2008, Movant entered a guilty plea to twelve counts, one
count of class B felony kidnapping, four counts of class C
felony domestic assault in the second degree, and seven
counts of class A misdemeanor domestic assault in the third
degree. At the plea hearing, Movant waived a sentencing
assessment report, and was sentenced by the motion court to
15 years for each of the five felony counts, the sentences to
run concurrently, and to one year for the seven misdemeanor
counts, with credit for time served. The court suspended the
execution of the felony sentences and granted Movant
plea hearing, defense counsel, Cleveland Tyson, stated,
"pursuant to the extensive conversations with the Court
and the State and my client, my client is (sic) authorized me
to withdraw his former pleas of not guilty and enter pleas of
guilty on all twelve counts." Movant had a separate
criminal charge of domestic assault in the third degree
against the same victim pending in another division of the
St. Louis City Circuit Court in which Movant was represented
by the Public Defender's Office. Movant testified it was
his intent to also plead guilty to that charge after pleading
in the present case.
State advised Movant and the motion court of the range of
punishment for each of the offenses. Therefore, Movant was
advised he was facing up to 90 years or life. The court asked
Movant if he understood the range of punishment and whether
his attorney had discussed it with him, and Movant answered
affirmatively. Additionally, the court extensively questioned
Movant about his constitutional right to trial, reviewing his
rights and the work Mr. Tyson had done for him. An excerpt of
the plea colloquy demonstrates the thoroughness of the motion
THE COURT: Okay. I'm gonna focus on what Mr. Tyson has
done for you or not done for you. He's been your lawyer
from the time he took over up til now, is that correct?
THE COURT: Have you had enough time to talk to Mr. Tyson
about all aspects of your case before making the decision to
THE COURT: Did you tell Mr. Tyson everything you know about
the facts and circumstances surrounding these twelve charges
THE COURT: Do you have any witnesses that you want Mr. Tyson
to interview for you or to bring to Court for you, if you go
A. If I go to trial?
THE COURT: Yeah.
A. I'm pleading guilty, right?
THE COURT: You are. But you have the choice of going to
A. Oh, okay.
THE COURT: And before you make your final decision about what
you want to do, you might have witnesses that you want Mr.
Tyson to check on for you to see if they would be strong
witnesses or weak witnesses or somewhere in between. Do you
have any people like that that you want Mr. Tyson to check on
for you or bring--- bring to trial if you go to trial?
THE COURT: Has Mr. Tyson answered your questions and done the
things you've asked him to do?
THE COURT: Are you satisfied with the work he's done and
the answers ...