JEROME KELLY EDWARDS v. THE STATE OF TEXAS

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Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas.

JEROME KELLY EDWARDS, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

No. 05–10–00701–CR

Decided: November 17, 2011

Before FitzGerald, Francis, and Lang–Miers

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Opinion By Justice FitzGerald

Appellant Jerome Kelly Edwards pleaded nolo contendere to a charge of aggravated assault.   The trial court found appellant guilty and sentenced him to fourteen years' confinement.   In a single issue, appellant contends the trial court erred in failing to withdraw appellant's plea sua sponte when testimony purportedly raised a legitimate concern about the factual basis for the plea.   The factual nature of this case, as well as its procedural history, pleadings, and evidence are known to the parties, and we do not repeat them in detail here.   Because the dispositive issue in the appeal is clearly settled in law, we issue this memorandum opinion.   See Tex.R.App. P. 47.4.   We affirm the trial court's judgment.

Appellant signed a judicial confession in this case stating that he had caused bodily injury to the complaining witness by shooting her and that he had used and exhibited a firearm during the commission of the assault.   He pleaded nolo contendere and, when questioned by the trial court, stated that he had read and understood the paperwork involved in his plea.   He also responded that his attorney had explained all of the paperwork to him, specifically including the indictment, so he understood what he signed and the offense with which he was charged.   At trial, appellant testified he understood that the trial court could look at his plea as an admission of guilt.   However, he testified that he had never fired a weapon and that he only learned about the shooting from his brother after the fact.1  On cross-examination he asserted that, despite the judicial confession, he did not admit to shooting anyone.

Appellant contends the trial court should have withdrawn appellant's plea because appellant's testimony raised a question concerning the factual basis for that plea.   We disagree.   Texas law does not require a trial court to withdraw a plea of guilty sua sponte, even if evidence is subsequently offered that might raise an issue of fact as to the defendant's guilt.   See Mendez v. State, 138 S.W.3d 334, 350 (Tex.Crim.App.2004).   Instead, the law places the requirement of timely seeking to withdraw a plea upon the defendant.  Id. Appellant never requested to withdraw his plea;  he never objected—at any step of the proceedings—that his plea was not voluntary.  “[H]e may not complain for the first time on appeal that the trial court did not do it for him.”   Id.;  see also Aldrich v. State, 104 S.W.3d 890, 896 (Tex.Crim.App.2003).

Appellant contends that this absolute requirement of a contemporaneous objection is contrary to the constitutional requirements of a voluntary plea, citing Bradshaw v. Stumpf, 545 U.S. 175 (2005).  Bradshaw does stress that a guilty plea waives important rights and that such a plea is valid only if it is made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently.  Id. at 183.   Specifically, a valid plea must be made “with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.”  Id. However, Bradshaw focuses on the requirement that a defendant be informed of all elements of the crime with which he is charged.   The case concludes that this standard is met, and the plea satisfies constitutional prerequisites, so long as the record reflects that “the nature of the charge and the elements of the crime were explained to the defendant by his own, competent counsel.”  Id. Appellant does not claim in this appeal that he was not informed of the nature and elements of the aggravated assault with which he was charged in this case.   The judicial confession he signed provided that specific information.   Moreover, when appellant was questioned by the trial court, he stated that he had read and understood the paperwork involved in his plea and that his attorney had explained all of the paperwork—specifically including the indictment—to him.   Appellant stated that he understood what he signed and the offense with which he was charged.   We discern no Bradshaw violation in appellant's case.

We overrule appellant's single issue, and we affirm the trial court's judgment.

FOOTNOTES

FN1. Appellant's brother was arrested for conduct related to the same shooting incident and served time in prison for that offense..  FN1. Appellant's brother was arrested for conduct related to the same shooting incident and served time in prison for that offense.

KERRY P. FITZGERALD JUSTICE

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