Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division
RICHARD E. ROBERTSON, Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The
Honorable Jack R. Grate, Jr., Judge.
Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge, and James Edward Welsh and
Alok Ahuja, Judges.
PFEIFFER, CHIEF JUDGE.
Richard E. Robertson ("Robertson") appeals the
judgment of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri
("motion court"), denying his Rule
24.035 motion for post-conviction relief.
Robertson argues that the motion court's decision was
clearly erroneous because his guilty plea to the class C
felony of failure to register as a sex offender was not made
knowingly and voluntarily. We affirm.
and Procedural Background
was charged by information in lieu of indictment with the
class C felony of failing to register as a sex offender,
§ 589.425. On February 7, 2014, Robertson pled guilty
to that charge pursuant to an agreement that the State would
not request a sentence in excess of three years'
imprisonment and would not charge Robertson as a prior and
persistent felony offender.
Robertson's guilty plea hearing, Robertson stated he
understood that by pleading guilty, he was waiving certain
rights and that he had a right to plead not guilty. He
confirmed that plea counsel had discussed his constitutional
rights with him, and he knew that he was giving up his right
to a trial by pleading guilty. Upon entering his guilty plea,
Robertson explicitly confirmed that he was pleading guilty
because he was guilty. The plea court asked Robertson if he was
pleading guilty freely and voluntarily and he responded,
"Yes, I am, Sir." The plea court asked him if
anyone was forcing him to plead guilty, and Robertson
responded, "No one is threatening me or forcing me in
any way." In response to the plea court's
questioning, Robertson further testified that he had not been
offered anything other than the plea agreement to induce him
to plead guilty. He also advised the plea court that he was
satisfied with the services of his attorney, affirmatively
noting that his plea counsel had "been [an] effective
assistant in all regard[s]."
finding that Robertson's guilty plea had been freely and
voluntarily made with a full understanding of the range of
punishment and consequences of the plea, the plea court
accepted Robertson's guilty plea. The plea court found
that there was a factual basis for the plea and that it was
not the result of force or threats or any promises except the
the entry of his guilty plea, Robertson was sentenced to
thirty months in prison. Robertson subsequently filed a
pro se Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction
relief, arguing that his plea attorney had coerced him into
pleading guilty and that his plea was, thus, not knowing and
voluntary. The motion court appointed post-conviction relief
counsel for Robertson and said counsel timely filed an
amended Rule 24.035 motion on Robertson's behalf. The
motion court held an evidentiary hearing on Robertson's
Rule 24.035 motion, after which the motion court entered
judgment denying the motion.
review of a motion court's ruling denying a Rule 24.035
motion is limited to a determination of whether the motion
court's judgment was clearly erroneous. See Roberts
v. State, 276 S.W.3d 833, 835 (Mo. banc 2009); Rule
24.035(k). The motion court's judgment is clearly
erroneous only if, after reviewing the entire record,
"the court is left with the definite and firm impression
that a mistake has been made." Roberts, 276
S.W.3d at 835. The movant bears the burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that the motion court clearly
erred in its ruling. Id. See also Rule 24.035(i). On
appeal, the facts must be viewed in the light most favorable
to the motion court's judgment. See Rousan v.
State, 48 S.W.3d 576, 579 (Mo. banc 2001). When
reviewing a motion court's ruling, we presume the motion
court's findings are correct. Barton v. State,
432 S.W.3d 741, 748 (Mo. banc 2014).
appeal, Robertson contends that the motion court clearly
erred in denying his Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction
relief on the basis that his guilty plea was unknowing and
involuntary because his ...