CHARLES M. RYAN, Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY The Honorable
Timothy W. Inman, Judge
DENVIR STITH, JUDGE
Ryan appeals the motion court's judgment overruling his
Rule 24.035 motion without an evidentiary hearing. He alleges
his plea was involuntary because counsel did not inform him
of a change in the plea offer until just before the plea
hearing, did not meet with him to discuss the case prior to
the plea hearing, and put undue pressure on him to accept the
plea offer. This Court affirms, finding the record
conclusively refutes the claims made in Mr. Ryan's
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
August 2011, Mr. Ryan pled guilty to second-degree drug
trafficking and was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment.
The court placed him in a long-term drug treatment program in
the department of corrections pursuant to section
217.362. Upon successful completion of the program,
he was eligible to have execution of his 15-year sentence
suspended and to be released on probation. Id.
August 2012, while Mr. Ryan was taking part in the long-term
drug treatment program at the department of corrections, the
State brought charges against him for manufacturing a
controlled substance in a separate incident that occurred
prior to the trafficking conviction. The initial charge
alleged Mr. Ryan had committed the class A felony of
manufacturing a controlled substance within 2, 000 feet of a
school under section 195.211.2. In September 2012, the prosecutor
reduced the charge to manufacturing a controlled substance, a
class B felony under section 195.211.3, to which Mr. Ryan
agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the State's
recommendation of a suspended 15-year sentence and five
Ryan says the initial plea offer included a promise by the
prosecutor to recommend the new sentence run concurrent with
his 15-year trafficking sentence. But the morning of the plea
hearing, the prosecutor withdrew that offer and said he would
instead recommend the two sentences run consecutively. Mr.
Ryan says his attorney recommended he take the revised plea
offer because, otherwise, there would be a chance the
prosecutor would proceed with the higher charge initially
filed, risking a much harsher sentence.
Ryan agreed to plead guilty pursuant to the revised plea
offer despite his knowledge the prosecutor was going to
recommend his sentence be made consecutive to his trafficking
sentence. He and six other defendants in unrelated cases
participated in a group plea proceeding. No defendant or
attorney objected to the group plea procedure. The court
advised the seven defendants of their rights and asked
questions generally to the group. Each defendant stood in a
line and answered the questions individually. In addition to
the general questions, the court at various points asked
specific questions to individual defendants to more
effectively determine whether their pleas were knowing,
intelligent, and voluntary. The court accepted Mr. Ryan's
plea and imposed a suspended 15-year sentence consistent with
the recommendation, to run consecutively to his 15-year
sentence for trafficking, and put him on five years'
probation. A few months later, Mr. Ryan successfully
completed the long-term drug treatment program in which he
was serving pursuant to his trafficking conviction, and the
court ordered his release on probation.
September 2014, Mr. Ryan violated the conditions of his
release on both convictions. The court revoked his probation
and executed his previously suspended consecutive 15-year
sentences for both convictions. Mr. Ryan filed a Rule 24.035
motion challenging only his conviction in 2012 for drug
manufacturing. The motion court appointed counsel for Mr.
Ryan, who filed an amended motion asserting Mr. Ryan's
plea counsel was ineffective for inducing an involuntary
guilty plea by: (1) informing Mr. Ryan of a change in the
State's offer only minutes before he entered his plea,
(2) failing to discuss the facts of the case with Mr. Ryan
before the plea, and (3) intimidating Mr. Ryan into accepting
the revised plea offer by saying he would receive a harsher
sentence if he did not accept the State's revised offer.
motion court overruled Mr. Ryan's motion without an
evidentiary hearing on the ground the record conclusively
refuted his claims, in that "[t]hroughout the record of
[Mr. Ryan's] guilty plea he unequivocally assured the
Court he was satisfied with the efforts of his
attorney." Mr. Ryan's sole point on appeal is that,
when looking at the totality of the circumstances, including
that his plea was part of a group plea, the record does not
conclusively refute the claims in his amended motion. He
requests this Court vacate the conviction or, in the
alternative, remand for an evidentiary hearing. For the
reasons set forth below, this Court affirms.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the motion court's denial of postconviction
relief, this Court "is limited to a determination of
whether the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the
motion court are clearly erroneous." DePriest v.
State, 510 S.W.3d 331, 337 (Mo. banc 2017).
"Findings and conclusions are clearly erroneous if,
after a review of the entire record, the court is left with
the definite and firm impression that a mistake has been
made." Price v. State, 422 S.W.3d 292, 294 (Mo.
THE RECORD CONCLUSIVELY REFUTES COERCION OR A FAILURE TO
TIMELY COMMUNICATE A PLEA OFFER
entitled to postconviction relief due to ineffective
assistance of counsel, "a movant must demonstrate that:
(1) defense counsel failed to exercise the level of skill and
diligence that a reasonably competent counsel would in a
similar situation, and (2) he or she was prejudiced by that
failure." McIntosh v. State,413 S.W.3d 320,
324 (Mo. banc 2013), citing, Strickland v.
Washington,466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). To be entitled to
an evidentiary hearing, (1) the movant must allege
"facts, not conclusions, warranting relief; (2) the
facts alleged [must] not [be] refuted conclusively by the
record; and (3) the matters complained of [must have]
resulted in prejudice to the movant." at
323-24. The "prejudice requirement focuses on
whether counsel's constitutionally ineffective
performance affected the outcome of the plea process."
Coates v. State,939 S.W.2d 912, 914 (Mo. banc 1997)