State v. Hammett, Crim. App. LEXIS 680 (Aug. 25, 2015)

Court and Agency Decisions and Orders (including case law)

TENNESSEE – The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals backed up the refusal of Sevier County Circuit Judge Rex Henry Ogle to allow Allen Anthony Hammett to withdraw his “best interest” guilty plea to charges of aggravated sexual battery, and violating the sex offender registry statute. Hammett, a convicted sex offender who was HIV-positive, was charged with violating the sex offender registry statute when he failed to notify the proper authorities of his change of address and committing aggravated sexual battery when he rented hotel room together with a female minor and engaged in activity that involved contact with her genitals. He complained that he was deprived of his HIV medications while incarcerated awaiting trial on these new charges. He pled guilty in a well-documented hearing during which he was recorded as saying that his plea was voluntary and he was afforded an opportunity to ask questions. Seeking approval from the court to withdraw his plea and go to trial, Hammett claimed that his plea was not voluntary and was affected by deprivation of his medications. He also believed that newly-discovered exculpatory evidence made it appropriate for him to go to trial. The appeals court rejected his arguments, finding that the transcript of the plea hearing was quite regular and documented his voluntary plea. The court also found that the testimony given by his defense counsel in this proceeding showed that he had received adequate representation and was well-advised of the consequences of a guilty plea. (Summary provided by September 2015 Lesbian / Gay Law Notes).