Magee v. State, 2019-CT-01794-SCT

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtGRIFFIS, JUSTICE
PartiesKENDALL MAGEE a/k/a KENDALL K. MAGEE v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Docket Number2019-CT-01794-SCT
Decision Date09 June 2022

KENDALL MAGEE a/k/a KENDALL K. MAGEE
v.

STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

No. 2019-CT-01794-SCT

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

June 9, 2022


DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/31/2019

WALTHALL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. DAVID H. STRONG, JR. TRIAL JUDGE:

TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: TIMOTHY OTIS JONES

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: KENDALL MAGEE (PRO SE)

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD

GRIFFIS, JUSTICE

¶1. Kendall Magee pled guilty to second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. For his conviction of second-degree murder, Magee was sentenced to thirty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with ten years suspended and five years' post-release supervision. For his conviction of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Magee was sentenced to ten years in the custody of the MDOC, with ten years suspended and five years' post-release supervision. Magee's

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sentences were ordered to run consecutively.[1]

¶2. Magee timely filed a motion for post-conviction relief (PCR) and requested that his guilty plea be vacated. In his motion, Magee claimed his guilty plea was involuntary because (1) his attorney was ineffective and misrepresented the consequences of the plea and sentence, (2) his attorney was ineffective and failed to properly investigate his case, and (3) the circuit judge coerced him into pleading guilty. Regarding his misrepresentation claim, Magee asserted that his trial counsel "advised [him] to take the plea because he would only serve six to seven years in prison." According to Magee, after he entered his guilty plea, he learned that he was not eligible for early release and "that his actual time to serve in prison would be 25 years."

¶3. In support of his motion for PCR, Magee attached Exhibits A through M, which included affidavits from Magee, his mother, and his two aunts. In his affidavit, Magee stated his trial counsel "contacted [him] concerning the proposed plea offer by the State." According to Magee, his trial counsel "affirmatively stated" that if he pled guilty, he would "only serve actual time in prison six to seven years." Magee explained that although "[n]o mention was made of early release programs [he] may or may not be eligible for . . . [, ] [he] relied on the fact that [trial counsel] affirmatively told [him] [he] would only serve six or seven years." Magee concluded that

[trial counsel] affirmatively misled [him] about the consequences of the plea, in particular, about the length of time [he] would actually serve in prison. If [he] had known that [he] would not serve only six or seven years . . ., [he]
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would have rejected the plea offer and taken [his] case to trial

¶4. In her affidavit, Magee's mother asserted that she "was present at a meeting between [trial counsel] and [Magee] where [trial counsel] advised [Magee] that if he would accept the plea offer[, ] [he] would only serve 6 to 7 years in prison." Magee's aunts also stated in their affidavits that Magee's trial counsel advised Magee that he would only serve six to seven years in prison if he accepted the State's recommended plea offer.

¶5. In response to Magee's motion for PCR, the circuit court ordered an evidentiary hearing. Before the hearing, Magee filed a "motion for appointment of counsel for purposes of post-conviction evidentiary hearing," a "motion for continuance of evidentiary hearing pending appointment of counsel and preparation for hearing," and a "motion for order directing Walthall County Jail to permit special visit with evidentiary hearing witnesses." Magee had also previously filed a motion to recuse.[2]

¶6. At the evidentiary hearing, the circuit court denied Magee's motions, and Magee represented himself at the hearing. After the hearing, the circuit court denied Magee's motion for PCR, finding "no merit to Magee's claims."

¶7. In its order, the circuit court found "Magee . . . understood his rights and all implications of the plea and sentencing proceedings, including the minimum and maximum sentences for each count for which he was charged . . . ." The circuit court further found there was "nothing in the record to substantiate [Magee's] claims" that his attorney misrepresented the consequences of the plea and sentence and that his attorney did not

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properly investigate the case. The circuit court noted that the affidavits attached to Magee's motion for PCR "appear[ed] to have been written by Magee and signed by the family members" but that "none of these witness[es] provided [corroborating] testimony at the evidentiary hearing . . . ." The circuit court also found "[t]he allegations that Magee was coerced into pleading guilty by the judge [we]re simply untrue and dispelled by the record."

¶8. Magee timely appealed the circuit court's denial of his motion for PCR. The appeal was assigned to the Mississippi Court of Appeals. On appeal, Magee claimed the circuit court erred "by (1) not allowing him to present testimony of his former attorney or three witnesses at the evidentiary hearing, (2) failing to address his claim that he pled guilty in reliance on incorrect advice regarding his sentence, and (3) denying his motion to continue the evidentiary hearing." Magee v. State, No. 2019-CP-01794-COA, 2021 WL 4271912, at *2 (Miss. Ct. App. Sept. 21, 2021).

¶9. The Court of Appeals affirmed and found that the circuit court's "decision to deny post-conviction relief was not clearly erroneous." Id. at *5. First, the court found no evidence that Magee attempted to exercise his right to subpoena witnesses to compel their attendance at the hearing. Id. at *3. Second, the court found any "misinformation [by trial counsel] was corrected at the guilty-plea hearing." Id. at *4. Third, the court found the record "fail[ed] to reflect a need for appointment of counsel" and, as a result, there was "no abuse of discretion by the circuit court in denying Magee's motion for continuance pending appointment of counsel for the evidentiary hearing on his PCR motion." Id. at *5.

¶10. After the Court of Appeals denied his motion for rehearing, Magee filed a petition for

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writ of certiorari. In his petition, Magee asserted his trial counsel "advised him that if he pled guilty with the State's recommendation as to his sentence, he would only spend six to seven years in custody." According to Magee, "he would not have pled guilty if he had known that he would be required to serve twenty-five years." Magee claims he "should have been allowed to prove his claim if he could do so and make a record of the evidence." He argues the circuit court erred by not allowing him to present witness testimony at the evidentiary hearing. This Court granted...

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