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Ryan v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

May 23, 2017

CHARLES M. RYAN, Movant/Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent/Respondent.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County Honorable Timothy W. Inman

          SHERRI B. SULLIVAN, P.J.


         Charles M. Ryan (Movant) appeals from the motion court's Judgment denying, without an evidentiary hearing, his amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Judgment and Sentence filed pursuant to Rule 24.035 (post-conviction motion).[1] We reverse and remand.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The State charged Movant with the class A felony of manufacturing a controlled substance (methamphetamine) within 2, 000 feet of an elementary school. On September 21, 2012, Movant pleaded guilty to an amended charge of the class B felony of manufacturing a controlled substance. Movant's plea was entered as part of a "group plea" with six other defendants.

         Before questioning the defendants about their pleas, the plea court advised the seven defendants they would be placed under oath and then questioned to determine whether their pleas of guilty were being made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. After swearing in the defendants as a group, the plea court explained the group plea procedure was being utilized to save the court time. The court explained it would address its questions and comments to the group and, "in order to keep the record straight, " the first defendant would respond and then the court would "move straight on down the line in order." The plea court told the defendants they should stop the court, get their attorney's attention, or "do whatever is necessary" if they got confused or did not understand something. None of the defendants or their counsel objected to the group plea procedure.

         Upon questioning by the court, Movant stated he had sufficient opportunity to discuss his case with counsel, indicating they had spoken approximately 10 times for a total of about 4 hours. Movant stated his counsel had done all the things he requested of him, he was satisfied with the advice of counsel, and he had no complaints about counsel's handling of his case.

         After the court advised Movant of his trial rights and the range of punishment, the State set forth the terms of the plea bargain. In exchange for Movant's guilty plea, the State recommended a 15-year sentence, suspended execution of sentence, with 5 years of probation to run consecutively to his sentence in another case.[2] Movant acknowledged these were the terms of the plea and stated he had no questions for the court. Upon questioning by the court, Movant indicated no one had made any promises or agreements other than those stated on the record and no threats or pressure had been exerted against him to cause him to plead guilty. Movant then set forth the factual basis for the plea.

         The plea court accepted Movant's plea as knowing and voluntary, sentenced him to 15 years' imprisonment to run consecutively to the sentence in his other case, suspended execution of the sentence, and placed Movant on 5 years' probation.

         On April 20, 2015, Movant's probation was revoked and his 15-year sentence was ordered executed. On April 24, 2015, Movant was delivered to the Missouri Department of Corrections. On June 22, 2015, Movant filed his pro se post-conviction motion.

         On October 26, 2015, appointed counsel timely filed an amended post-conviction motion alleging Movant's plea was not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made due to plea counsel's ineffectiveness by informing Movant of a change in the State's plea offer only minutes before he was to enter a plea; by failing to meet with Movant and discuss the facts of his case before the plea; and by informing Movant he would likely receive a very harsh sentence if he did not accept the State's plea offer. Movant alleged he would present evidence he never personally spoke with counsel prior to day of the plea, counsel communicated to Movant by relaying messages via Movant's mother, and counsel advised Movant's mother he would receive a concurrent sentence if he pled guilty. Movant alleged he spoke with counsel for the first time in court minutes before the plea was to take place, at which time counsel advised him the State would only agree to a consecutive sentence and Movant would likely receive a "very harsh" or the maximum sentence if he did not accept the offer. Movant alleged he was given only minutes to accept or reject the State's plea offer and he had not substantively discussed the charges or the facts of the case with counsel and had not been given the chance to review any discovery. Movant alleged he felt pressured to plead guilty and but for counsel's pressure, he would not have pled guilty but would have insisted on going to trial.

         On November 6, 2015, the motion court[3] entered its Judgment denying Movant relief without an evidentiary hearing. The motion court found Movant's allegations were ...

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