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FROM THE DREW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 22CR-12-37. HONORABLE
SAM POPE, JUDGE.
Pedraza, Pro se, appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
2013, appellant Daniel Pedraza entered a plea of guilty to
first-degree murder in the death of his two-year-old
stepdaughter. He elected to be sentenced by a jury. The jury
was instructed that the range of sentencing for the offense
was ten to forty years or life, and a sentence of life
imprisonment was imposed. Pedraza appealed from the sentence,
and this court affirmed. Pedraza v. State, 2014 Ark.
298, 438 S.W.3d 226.
2014, Pedraza timely filed in the trial court a pro se
verified petition for postconviction relief pursuant to
Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1 (2013) seeking to
vacate the judgment on the grounds that he was denied
effective assistance of counsel. The petition was dismissed,
and Pedraza brings this appeal.
standard of review in Rule 37.1 proceedings is that, on
appeal from a trial court's ruling on a petitioner's
request for Rule 37 relief, this court will not reverse the
trial court's decision granting or denying postconviction
relief unless it is clearly erroneous. Wood v.
State, 2015 Ark. 477, 478 S.W.3d 194. A finding is
clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support
it, the appellate court, after reviewing the entire evidence
is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake
has been committed. Id.
considering an appeal from a trial court's denial of a
Rule 37.1 petition on the grounds of ineffective assistance
of counsel, the question presented is whether, under the
standard set forth by the United States Supreme Court in
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct.
2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), the trial court clearly erred in
holding that counsel's performance was not ineffective.
Wood, 2015 Ark. 477, 478 S.W.3d 194; Anderson v.
State, 2011 Ark. 488, 385 S.W.3d 783.
rule for evaluating ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims
in cases involving guilty pleas appears in Hill v.
Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 106 S.Ct. 366, 88 L.Ed.2d 203
(1985). In Hill, the Supreme Court held that the
" cause and prejudice" test of Strickland
applied to challenges to guilty pleas based on ineffective
assistance of counsel. The Court further held that in order
to show prejudice in the context of a guilty plea, the
petitioner must show that there is a reasonable probability
that, but for counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded
guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.
Hill, 474 U.S. at 59. An appellant who has entered a
guilty plea normally will have considerable difficulty in
proving any prejudice, as the plea rests upon an admission in
open court that the appellant did the act charged.
Wood, 2015 Ark. 477, 478 S.W.3d 194. Further, a
petitioner under Rule 37.1 must allege some direct
correlation between counsel's deficient behavior and the
decision to enter the plea. Scott v. State, 2012
Ark. 199, 406 S.W.3d 1.
first note that in his brief on appeal, Pedraza has reworded
the claims raised below to construct virtually new claims and
has bolstered some of the allegations raised in the Rule 37.1
petition by adding information. On appeal, we review only
those specific claims before the trial court. McLaughlin
v. State, 2015 Ark. 335, 469 S.W.3d 360 (per curiam).