Can Affidavits for Post-Trial Relief Be Rejected Due to Their Lack of Credibility If D.N.A. Evidence Implicates the Defendant ?

In State v. Calhoun, 86 Ohio St.3d 279, 1999 Ohio 102, 714 N.E.2d 905, the petition was filed by a defendant who had entered a negotiated guilty plea to charges of attempted aggravated murder, rape, and aggravated burglary. His involvement in the criminal conduct concerned was conclusively shown by D.N.A. test results. The Crim.R. 11(C) colloquy in which he and the court had engaged fully supported the defendant's desire to enter the guilty plea. Nevertheless, after he was sentenced, the defendant filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his guilty plea was less than knowing, intelligent, and voluntary, for two reasons. First, because he had asked his trial attorney to file a pre-sentence Crim.R.32.1 motion to withdraw the guilty plea and the attorney refused. Second, because the sentence he received was greater than his attorney had told the defendant the trial court would likely impose. The trial court in Calhoun denied the petition without a hearing. The court of appeals reversed, holding that affidavits of the defendant and his mother that were submitted in support of a hearing mandated a hearing. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial court could reasonably reject or disbelieve the affidavits. The Supreme Court noted that the trial court judge that denied the petition in Calhoun had presided at the defendant's change of plea hearing "and was in the best position to observe the defendant and his attorney and therefore assess the credibility of the affidavits." Id. P. 287. Further, the affidavits of the defendant and his mother were "based on out-of-court statements allegedly made by defendant's trial counsel. Therefore, they contain and rely on hearsay. In addition, the affiants are clearly relatives of the petitioner or otherwise interested in the success of petitioner's efforts." Id., p. 287. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the affidavits contradicted the record of the plea proceeding by "recanting prior statements defendant made on the record, both orally and in writing in his signed plea agreement." Id. P. 289. Further, an affidavit filed by the defendant's trial attorney explained that he had declined to file a Crim.R. 32.1 motion because the D.N.A. evidence implicating the defendant was overwhelming proof of his guilt.