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Cawl v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Kentucky

February 20, 2014

KYRUS LEE CAWL, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, APPELLEE

Released for Publication March 13, 2014.

ON REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS. CASE NO. 2010-CA-000358-MR. JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT NOS. 05-CR-000655 & 05-CR-000849.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Melinda Brooke Buchanan, Assistant Public Advocate, Department Of Public Advocacy.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Jack Conway, Attorney General Of Kentucky, Bryan Darwin Morrow, Assistant Attorney General, Office Of Criminal Appeals, Office Of The Attorney General.

OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUSTICE VENTERS. Minton, C.J., Abramson, Cunningham, Noble and Scott, JJ., concur. Keller, J., not sitting.

Page 215

OPINION

VENTERS, JUSTICE

Appellant, Kyrus Lee Cawl, appeals from an opinion of the Court of Appeals affirming the order of the Jefferson Circuit Court denying Appellant's motion for relief pursuant to RCr 11.42. The Court of Appeals held that Appellant had waived his right to appellate review because he failed to request specific findings of fact following the trial court's denial of his RCr 11.42 claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reason set forth below, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and remand this matter for its review of Appellant's claim in light of our discussion contained herein.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In 2005, Appellant was charged with eleven counts of first-degree robbery. He subsequently accepted a plea agreement and entered an Alford plea[1] to all charges. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Appellant was sentenced to imprisonment for twenty-one years.

In 2008, Appellant filed a pro se motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to RCr 11.42. Along with other grounds for relief, Appellant's motion alleged that his trial counsel had told him prior to his acceptance of the plea agreement that he would

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be eligible for parole when he had served twenty percent of his sentence. However, because his convictions are for first-degree robbery, as a violent offender, Appellant will be statutorily required to serve at least eighty-five percent of his sentence before becoming parole eligible. Appellant asserted in his RCr 11.42 motion for post-judgment relief that such misinformation constituted ineffective assistance of counsel warranting relief from the judgment of conviction.

On April 15, 2009, without conducting an evidentiary hearing on Appellant's claims, the trial court entered an order concluding that " [Appellant] is not entitled to relief pursuant to RCr 11.42." The order made no findings of fact relative to his allegation of misadvice on parole eligibility, and it did not offer a specific ...


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