FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16LCR-15-18] HONORABLE JOHN N. FOGLEMAN, JUDGE
Standridge, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE
George Dewayne Guthrie was convicted by a Craighead County
jury of residential burglary and theft of property. He was
sentenced as a habitual offender to thirty years'
imprisonment in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
Guthrie's convictions were affirmed on appeal to this
court. Guthrie v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 681. Guthrie
then filed a petition pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1
seeking postconviction relief due to ineffective assistance
of counsel. Following a hearing, the Craighead County Circuit
Court denied Guthrie's petition. He now brings this
timely appeal from the denial of his petition for
postconviction relief. We affirm.
Rule 37 petition, Guthrie alleged that his trial counsel was
ineffective because, among other things, counsel did not
question or strike venireperson Garland Pearson when counsel
was advised by Guthrie that Pearson's uncle had brought
criminal charges against Guthrie. Guthrie further alleged
that Pearson had lied under oath when he said that he did not
know Guthrie because he (Guthrie) had been married to
Pearson's first cousin, Laurie. Guthrie further alleged
that Pearson became jury foreman, which put him in a position
to influence and manipulate the other jurors.
trial court held a hearing on Guthrie's petition. Pearson
testified that he had been adopted when he was four years old
and that he had grown up in Lake City, the site of
Guthrie's trial. He said that he had moved to Memphis,
Tennessee, when he was seventeen years old and had lived
there until his father became sick about eight years ago.
Pearson testified that he was not close to any of his family
"whatsoever." He stated that his uncle, Garland
Platts, had died three or four years ago. He said that he had
visited Platts in hospice while he was unconscious and dying
but that, before that, he had not had any contact with Platts
for thirty to thirty-five years. Pearson said that he was
unaware that Platts had been the victim of any crime. Pearson
said that he knew of Platts's children, including Laurie,
but did not know any of them personally or where they were
currently living. He said that he had not had any contact
with Laurie for "probably thirty years." Pearson
testified that he has a half sister, Bobbie Ann, but that he
did not have much contact with her and was not aware of any
relationship she may have had with Guthrie.
further testified that he did not recall ever having seen
Guthrie except for when he served on the jury at
Guthrie's trial. He testified that, when he was asked
during voir dire if he knew any of the parties at
Guthrie's trial, he had truthfully answered no. Pearson
also stated that he had become foreman of the jury simply
because he had sat at the end of the table. He said, "I
sat there and [the other jurors were] like you're the
jury foreman. I didn't know what it meant."
Howard, an attorney, testified that he had represented
Guthrie when he was tried in Lake City. Howard was asked
whether Guthrie had told him during voir dire that he was
related to or knew Pearson, and Howard responded:
That's a tough question. Not before voir dire
was conducted did that issue come up. At some point either
after the trial or maybe while the jury was out, I don't
remember, at some point, it was after the jury was selected
that something was brought up. I can't even tell you what
he said, somebody knows somebody and didn't like my
cousin or my brother or something like that.
recalled telling Guthrie that, because Guthrie knew some of
the jurors and he (Howard) did not, it was Guthrie's call
whether to strike a potential juror. Howard further testified
that, if he had known something unfavorable about a juror, he
would have brought that up.
testified that he had advised Howard that Pearson's
uncle, Garland Platts, had brought criminal charges against
him in 1993 or 1994. Guthrie said that Platts was his former
father-in-law, as Guthrie had been married to Platts's
daughter, Laurie, who is Pearson's first cousin. Guthrie
said that he had known Pearson's family "literally
all of [his] life" and that he had been to Pearson's
house when his mother drove the school bus. Guthrie said that
he had also been in a "sexting" relationship with
Pearson's sister, Bobbie Ann. He said that Bobbie Ann had
once referred to the fact that Platts did not like him.
also testified that, as jury foreman, Pearson was in a
position to sway or steer the jury in a certain direction
"like possibly at sentencing" and that Pearson
could have had something to do with the ultimate outcome. The
trial court questioned Guthrie about what he had told Howard
when Pearson denied knowing him, and Guthrie said that he had
told Howard that Pearson was not telling the truth when he
said that he did not know him because he had been ...