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Maiden v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

June 6, 2019




         Appellant Donnie Maiden appeals from the denial by the trial court of his pro se petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1 (2013). He alleges that the trial court erred with respect to its decision to deny relief on four of his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. In addition to his four points for reversal of the order, Maiden also asks by motion for an extension of time to file a reply brief in the appeal. As it is clear from the face of the petition that Maiden did not substantiate with facts a ground for relief in his Rule 37.1 petition, there is no good cause to delay action on the appeal by granting leave to file a reply brief. The motion for extension of brief time is denied, and the trial court's order is affirmed.

         I. Background

         In 2013, Maiden was convicted of the premediated and deliberate capital murder of Kylaus Williams and sentenced to a term of life imprisonment without parole. We affirmed. Maiden v. State, 2014 Ark. 294, 438 S.W.3d 263. The testimony adduced at Maiden's trial revealed that the victim, Williams, was the driver of a car in which there were three other occupants. Tim Bradley was in the front passenger seat, and Trenell Emerson and Maiden were in the backseat with Maiden behind the front passenger. When Williams stopped the car, Bradley opened the door to get out, and Maiden then opened his door and shot Williams seven times. Bradley fled, and Maiden dragged Williams's body out of the car, and he and Emerson drove away. Maiden and Emerson later abandoned the car and went to a hotel in Little Rock. They subsequently boarded a bus bound for California. The Arkansas police traced them to Phoenix, Arizona, where they were taken into custody by the Phoenix police.

         When Maiden was arrested in Arizona, he was with Trenell Emerson and Emerson's brother, Eric Emerson. A gun that matched the cartridges found at the crime scene was retrieved from a bag in the possession of the men. In addition to recovering the gun, a pair of jeans with the victim's DNA on it was found discarded in a dumpster at the Little Rock hotel. Maiden's partial palm print was recovered from the car where the victim was shot. Bradley testified that did not see Maiden shoot the victim, but he saw a gun beside Maiden in the car before the shooting. A medical examiner testified that the victim's wounds were consistent with his having been shot from the right rear passenger seat where Maiden had been sitting. Trenell Emerson testified that he saw Maiden shoot the victim, and Maiden's former cellmate testified that Maiden told him that he had shot the victim.

         II. Standard of Review

         This court reviews the trial court's decision on Rule 37.1 petitions for clear error. Gordon v. State, 2018 Ark. 73, 539 S.W.3d 586. 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. Lacy v. State, 2018 Ark. 174, 545 S.W.3d 746.

         III. Strickland Standard

         This court's standard for ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims is the two-prong analysis set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Gordon, 2018 Ark. 73, 539 S.W.3d 586. The benchmark for judging a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel must be whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result. Henington v. State, 2012 Ark. 181, 403 S.W.3d 55. Pursuant to Strickland, first, a petitioner raising a claim of ineffective assistance must show that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the "counsel" guaranteed the petitioner by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Williams v. State, 369 Ark. 104, 251 S.W.3d 290 (2007). A petitioner making an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim bears the heavy burden of demonstrating that his counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. See Springs v. State, 2012 Ark. 87, 387 S.W.3d 143. A court must indulge in a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. Id.

         Second, the petitioner must show that counsel's deficient performance so prejudiced petitioner's defense that he was deprived of a fair trial. Id. The petitioner must show there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, the fact-finder would have had a reasonable doubt respecting guilt, i.e., the decision reached would have been different absent the errors. Howard v. State, 367 Ark. 18, 238 S.W.3d 24 (2006). A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of the trial. Id. Unless a petitioner makes both showings, it cannot be said that the conviction resulted from a breakdown in the adversarial process that renders the result unreliable. Id. Additionally, conclusory statements that counsel was ineffective cannot be the basis for postconviction relief. Reams v. State, 2018 Ark. 324');">2018 Ark. 324, 560 S.W.3d 441.

         IV. Points for Reversal of the Order

         While Maiden raised a number of claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in his lengthy petition under Rule 37.1, [1] he raises only four issues in this appeal that he asserts establish that his trial counsel did not meet the standard under Strickland for providing the effective assistance of counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.[2]

         Maiden's first point for reversal of the trial court's order is that the court erred in not granting relief on Maiden's allegation that his trial counsel should have presented the video of Trenell Emerson's interrogation by the police to the jury so that Emerson's testimony could have been impeached with his ...

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