King v. Dutton

Decision Date22 February 1994
Docket NumberNo. 93-5390,93-5390
Citation17 F.3d 151
PartiesTerry Lynn KING, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Michael DUTTON, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit

W. Thomas Dillard (briefed), Wade Davies (argued), Ritchie, Fels & Dillard, Knoxville, TN, for petitioner-appellant.

Charles W. Burson, Atty. Gen., Debra K. Inglis, Asst. Atty. Gen. (argued & briefed), Merrilyn Feirman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Nashville, TN, for respondent-appellee.

Before: BOGGS, SUHRHEINRICH, and SILER, Circuit Judges.

BOGGS, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner Terry Lynn King appeals the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He claims that his guilty plea was involuntary because he was not informed that the state could use the resulting conviction as an aggravating circumstance in the sentencing for an unrelated but pending murder charge. We hold that such use is a collateral consequence of the plea, about which King need not be advised in order for his plea to be found voluntary.


King and Randall Sexton were arrested in Knox County, Tennessee, in August 1983 for the murder of Diana Kay Smith. On August 8, both men made statements admitting to kidnapping and murdering Todd Lee Millard in Grainger County, Tennessee. On November 2, the Knox County court, after a preliminary hearing, bound King over to the grand jury for the first degree murder of Smith.

On November 15, 1983, the Grainger County grand jury indicted King and Sexton for the first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery of Millard. Pursuant to an agreement negotiated by his court-appointed lawyer, and in order to avoid a possible death penalty, King pleaded guilty to the first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping of Millard. The State dismissed the armed robbery charge and recommended two concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for the murder and kidnapping, plus a five-year sentence enhancement for the use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The trial judge accepted King's plea and sentenced him according to the plea agreement.

Before accepting King's plea of guilty, the trial judge advised King of his rights, but did not tell him of the impact his resulting conviction might have on his Knox County case. According to King, his lawyer, too, never advised him what impact his guilty plea would have in the Knox County case. Both the trial judge and King's lawyer knew that King had been bound over to the Knox County grand jury for the Smith murder. At the time of the plea, King was not represented by counsel in Knox County. King says he would not have pleaded guilty and waived his right to a trial by jury if he had known that the conviction resulting from the guilty plea could be used as an aggravating circumstance that might justify imposition of the death penalty in his trial in Knox County.

King was then indicted, tried, and sentenced to death in Knox County for the Smith murder. At the sentencing hearing for the conviction for the Smith murder, King's Grainger County murder conviction was introduced as evidence in support of one aggravating circumstance in support of the death sentence. The jury found four aggravating circumstances, including that King was a violent felon, any one of which would have supported the imposition of the death penalty. See Tenn.Code Ann. Sec. 39-13-204(i); 1 State v. King, 718 S.W.2d 241 (Tenn.1986). 2

After unsuccessfully pursuing state post-conviction relief, King filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus on January 7, 1992, alleging that his guilty plea was involuntary, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, because it was entered without the required understanding of the consequences of the plea. An evidentiary hearing, at which King and his Grainger County court-appointed lawyer testified, was held on February 10, 1993. On February 23, the district court denied King's petition, finding that the impact of the Grainger County guilty plea was not direct, immediate, or automatic and thus was a collateral consequence not requiring a warning from the Grainger County trial court or constitutionally entitling King to advice regarding the consequences. Because there was no evidence that King had relied upon a factual misrepresentation about the potential impact of his plea on the Knox County charge, the district court found that his plea was voluntary, intelligent, and knowing. Following King's notice of appeal, the district court issued a certificate of probable cause to appeal.


To be valid, a guilty plea must be made voluntarily and intelligently. Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 242, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 1711, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969). The plea must be made with knowledge of the "relevant circumstances and likely consequences." Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 748, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 1469, 25 L.Ed.2d 747 (1970). The defendant need only be aware of the direct consequences of the plea, however; the trial court is under no constitutional obligation to inform the defendant of all the possible collateral consequences of the plea. Brown v. Perini, 718 F.2d 784, 788-89 (6th Cir.1983). Determining whether a plea was made voluntarily requires an evaluation of all the relevant circumstances surrounding the plea. Caudill v. Jago, 747 F.2d 1046, 1050 (6th Cir.1984); Brown, 718 F.2d at 786. The "ultimate question" is if the plea was in fact voluntary and intelligent. Pitts v. United States, 763 F.2d 197, 200 (6th Cir.1985).

A conviction's possible enhancing effect on subsequent sentences has been held to be merely a collateral consequence of a guilty plea, about which a defendant need not be advised, even when there was a pending investigation into the charge upon which the subsequent sentence was based. See United States v. Brownlie, 915 F.2d 527, 528 (9th Cir.1990); United States v. Edwards, 911 F.2d 1031, 1035 (5th Cir.1990). Courts also have held that a defendant need not be advised that a conviction based on a guilty plea can be used in a subsequent prosecution resulting from a pending investigation. See United States v. Campusano, 947 F.2d 1, 5 (1st Cir.1991); United States v. Jordan, 870 F.2d 1310, 1317-18 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 831, 110 S.Ct. 101, 107 L.Ed.2d 65 (1989). Further, a defendant need not be informed of the details of his parole eligibility, including the possibility of being ineligible for parole. See Brown, 718 F.2d at 788; Armstrong v. Egeler, 563 F.2d 796, 800 (6th Cir.1977). Contrast Sparks v. Sowders, 852 F.2d 882, 885-86 (6th Cir.1988) (gross misadvice from counsel regarding parole eligibility may render plea involuntary). However, for a defendant's plea of guilty to be voluntary, the defendant must be aware of the maximum sentence that could be imposed. See Hart v. Marion Correctional Institution, 927 F.2d 256, 259 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 112 S.Ct. 70, 116 L.Ed.2d 44 (1991).

The cases thus indicate that the impact of King's Grainger County conviction on the Knox County case is only a collateral consequence of his guilty plea, and King's ignorance of the possible consequence does not render his plea involuntary. As in Brownlie and Edwards, the fact that the Grainger County conviction could result in enhanced punishment in the pending Knox County case--as it apparently did--does not render the plea involuntary. 3 Nor does the record indicate that King was grossly misadvised as to the consequences of his guilty plea. Also, King was aware of the maximum sentence that could be imposed in the Grainger County case--he pleaded guilty in order to avoid the death penalty. Because only the Grainger County conviction is under review here, any lack of knowledge of the maximum penalty on the Knox County charge in the Knox County proceedings (if such there was) is irrelevant to the case at hand.

King's arguments that a narrow exception should be made for his case...

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