Caldwell sees no relief in rape conviction

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By Susan Sharp

Jackie Caldwell’s failure to properly prepare an appeal has gotten it dismissed.

Caldwell was convicted of aggravated rape and is currently serving a 22 year sentence. However, she has continued to ask for leniency filing multiple motions and appeals.

The latest was a request for post conviction relief. Caldwell, who filed the motion on her own, was contending the sentence given in her case was improper and her lawyer at trial was ineffective, according to the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals records.

Caldwell was indicted in 2006 on charges that stemmed from the sexual abuse of her boyfriend’s minor child. After a trial, Caldwell was convicted of aggravated rape, criminal responsibility for the facilitation of rape of a child and criminal responsibility for facilitation of criminal attempt to commit aggravated battery. When she appealed these convictions, the appeals court found insufficient evidence to support the two facilitation charges, according to court records.

The aggravated rape conviction and sentence were upheld.

However, Caldwell wasn’t satisfied with that. In October 2010, she filed the PCR alleging her trial attorney failed to request specific jury instructions, failed to make certain requests to prosecutors and didn’t give appropriate advice regarding a plea agreement offer. The PCR was denied by Judge Shayne Sexton in December 2011.

This led to an appeal at the state level. Caldwell alleged to the court of appeals that Sexton was wrong when he denied her PCR request, and the trial court had also made a mistake when it considered certain sentencing enhancement factors.

Immediately the court of appeals declined to consider the enhancement issue saying it had already been taken care of in a previous appeal.

This left Caldwell’s claim of ineffective counsel to be considered. Judge John Everett Williams said in the court of appeals opinion a “ a criminal defendant has a right to ‘reasonably effective’ counsel” under both the U.S. and state constitution.  In order to prove an attorney was deficient in representation of a client and prejudice to the defense, records from the previous court proceedings must be available. Caldwell failed to file these documents.

Williams noted she had failed to “include any record whatsoever from her trial.” He continued saying Caldwell “had simply failed to comply with the Rules of Appellate Procedure.” Because the appeals court functions as a court of review, this meant Caldwell had submitted an appeal with no supporting documents.

“Review of the petitioner’s (Caldwell) issues on this record simply is not possible,” Williams wrote in his opinion.