Ex parte Rhone

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtWOODALL, Justice.
Citation900 So.2d 455
Decision Date01 October 2004
PartiesEx parte Walter Lee RHONE, Jr. (In re Walter Lee Rhone, Jr. v. State of Alabama).

900 So.2d 455

Ex parte Walter Lee RHONE, Jr.
(In re Walter Lee Rhone, Jr.
v.
State of Alabama)

1031022.

Supreme Court of Alabama.

October 1, 2004.


900 So.2d 456
Ty Alper, Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta, Georgia, for petitioner

Troy King, atty. gen., and Yvonne A.H. Saxon, asst. atty. gen., for respondent.

WOODALL, Justice.

Walter Lee Rhone, Jr., filed a Rule 32, Ala. R.Crim. P., petition for postconviction relief, which the trial court denied. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Rhone v. State, 900 So.2d 443 (Ala.Crim.App.2004). We reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals in part and remand.

On July 29, 2002, Rhone, pro se, filed a Rule 32 petition in the trial court, seeking relief from his 1999 conviction and sentence.1 As grounds for relief, Rhone alleged that he had been denied the effective assistance of counsel in several respects at trial and on appeal. On August 14, 2002, Rhone filed a motion to amend his petition. The amended petition presented 10 additional

900 So.2d 457
grounds to support his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims. The trial court entered no ruling on Rhone's motion to amend

On September 30, 2002, the State filed a response to Rhone's Rule 32 petition, addressing only the allegations in the original petition. On October 28, 2002, the trial court entered a written order denying the petition. That order made no mention of the claims contained in the proposed amendment. On November 18, 2002, Rhone filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate the trial court's order denying his petition. That motion requested that the court grant his previously filed motion to amend his Rule 32 petition and that the court address the claims raised in the amended petition. The trial court denied Rhone's motion, and Rhone appealed.

In affirming the judgment of the trial court, the Court of Criminal Appeals rested its decision upon three principal holdings. First, it held that the trial court had not erred in rejecting the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims stated in Rhone's original Rule 32 petition. Next, the court held that the trial court had not exceeded its discretion in not addressing the claims set out in Rhone's proposed amendment to his Rule 32 petition.2 Finally, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that the trial court had not erred in denying the petition without first conducting an evidentiary hearing. Judge Cobb and Judge Shaw dissented with regard to the second holding, because they "would ... remand this case for the circuit court to accept Rhone's amendment to his Rule 32 petition and to rule on the claims in that amendment." 900 So.2d at 450 (Shaw, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).

Rhone petitioned this Court for certiorari review of each of those three holdings in the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals. However, we granted certiorari review only with respect to the issue presented by the second holding, namely, whether the trial court exceeded its discretion in not addressing the claims set out in Rhone's proposed amendment to his Rule 32 petition. Specifically, we agreed to consider Rhone's contention that the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision conflicts with the well-established principle that although "[l]eave to amend a Rule 32 petition is within the discretion of the trial court, ... it should be freely granted." Ex parte Allen, 825 So.2d 271, 273 (Ala.2002)(emphasis added)(quoted with approval in Ex parte Nesbitt, 850 So.2d 228, 232 (Ala. 2002)).

This Court's statements concerning the amendment of Rule 32 petitions are supported by the plain language of Rule 32.7, Ala. R.Crim. P. Subsection (b) of that rule unambiguously grants discretion to the trial court, providing that "[a]mendments to pleadings may be permitted at any stage of the proceedings prior to the entry of judgment." (Emphasis added.) Guiding the exercise of that discretion is the mandate of subsection (d) that "[l]eave to amend shall be freely granted." (Emphasis added.) However, because the trial court has discretion to refuse an amendment to a Rule 32 petition, we must consider the nature of...

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31 practice notes
  • Hodges v. State, CR–04–1226.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 23, 2007
    ...quoting in turn Record Data Int'l, Inc. v. Nichols, 381 So.2d 1, 5(Ala.1979), and quoted with approval in Ex parte Rhone, 900 So.2d 455, 458 (Ala.2004). No amendment to the claims was necessary for a full determination of these claims because they had already been dismissed. Therefore, the ......
  • Wynn v. State, CR-14-1261
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 9, 2016
    ...the scheduled evidentiary hearing. Specifically, Wynn argues that, according to the Alabama Supreme Court's decision in Ex parte Rhone, 900 So.2d 455 (Ala.2004), the only grounds that will support the denial of a motion to amend a postconviction petition are "actual prejudice" or ......
  • Best v. Richie, CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-00257-KD-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • March 3, 2021
    ...to consider, an amendment to a Rule 32 petition." Ingram v. State, 103 So. 3d 86, 94 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012) (quoting Ex parte Rhone, 900 So. 2d 455, 458 (Ala. 2004). "[T]he concepts of 'undue delay' and 'undue prejudice'" have been applied "to the trial court's managemen......
  • Taylor v. Dunn, CIVIL ACTION 14-0439-WS-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • January 25, 2018
    ...or undue delay will support a trial court's refusal to allow, or to consider, an amendment to a Rule 32 petition." Ex parte Rhone, 900 So.2d 455, 458 (Ala. 2004). Taylor maintains that Rhone governs here, and that the state courts' denial of his attempts to amend his petition is irreco......
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31 cases
  • Hodges v. State, CR–04–1226.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 23, 2007
    ...quoting in turn Record Data Int'l, Inc. v. Nichols, 381 So.2d 1, 5(Ala.1979), and quoted with approval in Ex parte Rhone, 900 So.2d 455, 458 (Ala.2004). No amendment to the claims was necessary for a full determination of these claims because they had already been dismissed. Therefore, the ......
  • Wynn v. State, CR-14-1261
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 9, 2016
    ...the scheduled evidentiary hearing. Specifically, Wynn argues that, according to the Alabama Supreme Court's decision in Ex parte Rhone, 900 So.2d 455 (Ala.2004), the only grounds that will support the denial of a motion to amend a postconviction petition are "actual prejudice" or "undue del......
  • Best v. Richie, CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-00257-KD-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • March 3, 2021
    ...or to consider, an amendment to a Rule 32 petition." Ingram v. State, 103 So. 3d 86, 94 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012) (quoting Ex parte Rhone, 900 So. 2d 455, 458 (Ala. 2004). "[T]he concepts of 'undue delay' and 'undue prejudice'" have been applied "to the trial court's management of its docket a......
  • Taylor v. Dunn, CIVIL ACTION 14-0439-WS-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • January 25, 2018
    ...or undue delay will support a trial court's refusal to allow, or to consider, an amendment to a Rule 32 petition." Ex parte Rhone, 900 So.2d 455, 458 (Ala. 2004). Taylor maintains that Rhone governs here, and that the state courts' denial of his attempts to amend his petition is irreconcila......
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