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KNELSEN, ANNA

PD-1566-15 03/02/2016

"By ruling that Anna Knelsen's sworn writ allegations did not constitute a sufficient basis for vacating her conviction, even though the record conclusively establishes that her guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily made and that it resulted from ineffective assistance of counsel, the court of appeals has rendered a decision which conflicts with applicable decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court."

ICE officers found 5-50 pounds of marihuana in the spare tire of a car Knelsen was riding in with her husband. Both were represented by the same attorney on their negotiated pleas of guilty. Knelsen stated during her plea that she didn't know there was marihuana in the car and wanted to plead no contest. But the trial court said he would only accept her plea if she said she was guilty, so she pled guilty and was granted community supervision. Six years later, she filed an 11.072 writ, supported by her sworn pleadings and the record from the guilty plea. The trial court granted relief based on a conflict of interest and involuntariness of the plea.

The court of appeals held that the record did not support the trial court's findings. It noted that sworn pleadings are an inadequate basis upon which to grant relief in habeas proceedings. It concluded there was no evidence that, but for the conflict of interest and counsels's faulty advice, Knelsen would have rejected the plea bargain and gone to trial.

Knelsen argues that the record from the plea conclusively demonstrates that her plea was involuntary, she was forced into pleading guilty, she did not understand the difference between a guilty plea and a no-contest plea, and her counsel did not inform her that she could only be guilty if she knew about the marihuana.

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