Larry David Tomblin, by counsel Shawn Bartram, appeals the
Circuit Court of Cabell County's March 3, 2016, order
denying his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Respondent
Patrick A. Mirandy, Warden, by counsel Shannon Frederick
Kiser, filed a response. On appeal, petitioner alleges that the
circuit court erred in denying his habeas petition and in
failing to hold an evidentiary hearing.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
October of 2005, petitioner was arrested and charged with the
first-degree murder of Jason Wilson. Thereafter, he was
indicted on one count of first-degree murder. In May of 2006,
petitioner pled guilty to one count of first-degree murder.
Subsequently, on June 21, 2006, he was sentenced to a term of
incarceration of life with mercy.
August of 2007, petitioner filed a petition for writ of
mandamus. Subsequently, on July 1, 2015, petitioner,
by counsel, filed an amended petition for writ of habeas
corpus alleging four substantive grounds for relief: (1)
involuntary guilty plea; (2) ineffective assistance of
counsel; (3) severer sentence than expected; and (4)
questions of actual guilt upon an acceptable guilty plea.
order entered on March 3, 2016, the circuit court denied
petitioner's petition for habeas relief without
conducting an omnibus evidentiary hearing. The circuit court
found that the underlying record demonstrated that petitioner
was not induced to enter a guilty plea; that he understood
that the circuit court had the sole discretion to determine
petitioner's sentence; and that he "recognized and
accepted all the elements of his guilty plea." The
circuit court also found that petitioner's own statements
at the plea hearing indicated that he was satisfied with his
counsel's representation, and his sentence was
"expected for such a serious crime" and
legislatively prescribed. The circuit court further found
that, despite petitioner's claims to the contrary, the
State provided testimony with evidence at the plea hearing
that he was involved with a premeditated murder-for-hire
scheme. It is from this order that petitioner appeals.
Court reviews appeals of circuit court orders denying habeas
corpus relief under the following standard:
"In reviewing challenges to the findings and conclusions
of the circuit court in a habeas corpus action, we apply a
three-prong standard of review. We review the final order and
the ultimate disposition under an abuse of discretion
standard; the underlying factual findings under a clearly
erroneous standard; and questions of law are subject to a
de novo review." Syllabus point 1, Mathena
v. Haines, 219 W.Va. 417, 633 S.E.2d 771 (2006).
Syl. Pt. 1, State ex rel. Franklin v. McBride, 226
W.Va. 375, 701 S.E.2d 97 (2009).
appeal to this Court, petitioner alleges that he was entitled
to an omnibus evidentiary hearing, because the circuit court
could not appropriately rule on his habeas petition without a
full evidentiary record. The Court, however, does not agree.
We have previously held that
"[a] court having jurisdiction over habeas corpus
proceedings may deny a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
without a hearing and without appointing counsel for the
petitioner if the petition, exhibits, affidavits or other
documentary evidence filed therewith show to such court's
satisfaction that the petitioner is entitled to no
relief." Syllabus Point 1, Perdue v. Coiner,
156 W.Va. 467, 194 S.E.2d 657 (1973).
Syl. Pt. 3, Markley v. Coleman, 215 W.Va. 729, 601
S.E.2d 49 (2004). In the present matter, petitioner argues
simply that it was error to deny his petition because he
alleged several claims which, he argues, can only be properly
decided after conducting an evidentiary hearing.
to Rule 9(a) of Rules Governing Post-Conviction Habeas Corpus
Proceedings in West Virginia, "the circuit court, after
the answer is filed, shall, upon a review of the record, if
any, determine whether an evidentiary hearing is
required." The clear language of this rule gives circuit
courts the discretion to hold an evidentiary hearing. As the
circuit court correctly determined, petitioner failed to
allege any facts that would warrant an evidentiary hearing.
Indeed, the circuit court's order supports its finding
that an evidentiary hearing was not required based upon a
thorough review of the underlying criminal case and the
petition and memorandum in support. As such, it is clear that
the circuit court did not err in denying the petition for
writ of habeas corpus.
our review and consideration of the circuit court's
order, the parties' arguments, and the record submitted
on appeal, we find no error or abuse of discretion by the
circuit court. Our review of the record supports the circuit
court's decision to deny petitioner post-conviction
habeas corpus relief based on errors alleged in the petition,
which were also argued below. The circuit court's order
includes well-reasoned findings and conclusions as to the
assignments of error raised on appeal. Given our conclusion
that the circuit court's order and the record before us
reflect no clear error or abuse of discretion, we hereby
adopt and incorporate the circuit court's well-reasoned
findings and conclusions as they relate to ...