APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 15-3720, DIVISION
"N" HONORABLE STEPHEN D. ENRIGHT, JR., JUDGE
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Anne M. Wallis
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, DENNIS D. JACKSON Prentice
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, DENNIS D. JACKSON In Proper Person
composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg
Wicker, and Hans J. Liljeberg
J. LILJEBERG JUDGE.
Dennis Jackson, pleaded guilty to the amended charge of
aggravated battery. The trial court sentenced defendant to
ten years at hard labor. For the reasons that follow, we
vacate the guilty plea, set aside defendant's conviction
and sentence, and remand for further proceedings. Appellate
counsel's motion to withdraw as attorney of record is
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
31, 2015, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill
of information charging defendant with attempted second
degree murder in violation of La. R.S. 14:27 and La. R.S.
14:30.1. On August 17, 2015, defendant pleaded not guilty at
his arraignment. On November 30, 2015, defendant filed a
pro se motion for substitution of counsel
complaining his court-appointed counsel was withholding
evidence which could be used to "free" him. The
trial court heard and denied this motion on April 28, 2016.
16, 2016, the State amended the attempted second degree
murder charge to aggravated battery in violation of La. R.S.
14:34. On that same day, defendant withdrew his plea of not
guilty and pleaded guilty under North Carolina v.
Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162
(1970), to the aggravated battery charge. The State agreed
not to file a multiple offender bill of information with
respect to this charge. After accepting defendant's
guilty plea under Alford, the trial court sentenced
defendant in accordance with the plea agreement to ten years
at hard labor.
5, 2017, defendant filed a Uniform Application for
Post-Conviction Relief alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel and violations of due process. In support of his
application, defendant attached excerpts of alleged
statements from the victim and the victim's brother which
he claimed as proof he did not commit the alleged crime. On
July 13, 2017, the trial court dismissed the application for
post-conviction relief without prejudice on the basis that it
was premature. On August 10, 2017, defendant filed a pro se
motion for an out-of-time appeal, which was granted on August
22, 2017. This appeal follows.
appointed appellate counsel filed an
Anders brief on defendant's behalf, asserting
there is no basis for a non-frivolous appeal. Counsel also
filed a motion to withdraw as attorney of record. Defendant
filed a pro se supplemental appellate brief alleging
his guilty plea was coerced. Defendant also references
alleged favorable statements from the victim and other
witnesses, and complains he did not have the opportunity to
present this information in the lower court proceedings.
"best interest" or Alford plea is one in
which the defendant pleads guilty while maintaining his
innocence. In Alford, the United States Supreme
Court ruled that a defendant may plead guilty, without
foregoing his protestations of innocence, if "the plea
represents a voluntary and intelligent choice among the
alternative courses of action open to defendant[, ] . . .
especially where the defendant was represented by competent
counsel whose ...