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Ex parte Hollander

Supreme Court of Alabama

September 26, 2014

Ex parte Ronald Eugene Hollander, Jr.; In re: Ronald Eugene Hollander, Jr.
State of Alabama

Released for Publication June 10, 2015.

(Lauderdale Circuit Court, CC-12-350; Court of Criminal Appeals, CR-12-0297). Michael T. Jones, Trial Judge.


For Petitioner: Jeffrey B. Austin, Florence.

For Respondent: Luther Strange, atty. gen., and John C. Neiman, deputy atty. gen., and Kristi O. Wilkerson, asst. atty. gen.

Stuart, Bolin, Parker, Murdock, Shaw, Main, and Wise, JJ., concur. Moore, C.J., and Bryan, J., dissent.


Per Curiam.




MOORE, Chief Justice (dissenting).

The Lauderdale Circuit Court denied the motion filed by Ronald Eugene Hollander, Jr., to withdraw his guilty plea to attempted first-degree assault. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial by an unpublished memorandum. Hollander v. State (No. CR-12-0297, May 24, 2013), __ So.3d __ (Ala.Crim.App. 2013) (table). Because I believe that Hollander has satisfied the legal standard for the withdrawal of a guilty plea and that the result in this case works an injustice, I dissent.

I. Facts and Procedural History

The statement of facts attached to the criminal complaint alleges that on January 7, 2012, Chris Weldon, a City of Florence police officer, received information that an individual was acting suspiciously in a parking lot in Florence.[1] Arriving at the scene, Weldon observed an individual looking into the window of a vehicle. As Weldon approached, the individual got into a different vehicle. Weldon then spoke with the individual, who identified himself as Ronald Hollander. The officer detected an odor of paint coming from the vehicle and observed that Hollander had a can of gold spray paint and a plastic bag. When Hollander started his engine, Weldon told him to turn it off, but Hollander instead drove away. Weldon pursued Hollander in his patrol car.

The statement of facts continues:

" Hollander turned into the Med Plus parking lot[,] which dead ends. Hollander turned his vehicle around and accelerated towards Officer's vehicle[,] striking it in the front. Hollander then sideswiped the officer's vehicle[,] causing more damage to the officer's vehicle. Hollander then drove through Crocodile Ed's parking lot in a reckless manor [sic][,] which endangered patrons and property. He then ran two stop signs and exited the parking lot West bound [sic] on Mal[l] Road. While exiting the

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parking lot Hollander lost control[,] almost striking several vehicles at the intersection of Mall Rd. and Cloyd Blvd. He then accelerated to over 65 MPH (twice the speed limit). Hollander then turned West bound [sic] on Florence Blvd. Other officers joined the pursuit at this time. Hollander made a right turn onto Arlington Blvd. He was blocked by several patrol officers and he stopped at Monticello Ave. and Arlington Blvd. He was taken into custody without further incident. The time f[r]ame is from 7:26 PM to 7:55 PM."

A Lauderdale County grand jury indicted Hollander for four misdemeanors and for the felony of attempted assault in the first degree, which Hollander allegedly accomplished by " ramming" Weldon's patrol car with his vehicle, in violation of § § 13A-4-2 and 13A-6-20, Ala. Code 1975.

Hollander's trial counsel filed a motion seeking discovery of certain listed items, which the trial court granted. On June 6, 2012, the State served on Hollander's attorney a notice of discovery, indicating that a CD, containing 30 pages of documents, and a DVD had been provided to the defendant. In plea negotiations the State rejected Hollander's request to attend a residential drug-treatment program as an alternative to prison. Because Hollander had three prior felonies, a conviction of attempted first-degree assault, a Class C felony,[2] would mandate a sentence under the Habitual Felony Offender Act (" the HFOA" ), § 13A-5-9, Ala. Code 1975, of 15 years to 99 years or life imprisonment. The State offered Hollander a plea agreement for a 15-year sentence.

Hollander's attorney, seeking to avoid the severe consequence of a fourth felony conviction for her client, sought to convince the court to continue the case until Hollander finished a long-term drug-treatment program. A record of rehabilitation, she believed, could induce the State to recommend a plea that would avoid a fourth felony conviction. Although Hollander's case was assigned to Judge Michael Jones, a different judge, Judge Gilbert Self, whom Hollander's counsel considered sympathetic to residential drug-treatment programs, was assigned to conduct the pretrial and settlement conferences.

On August 9, 2012, during the pretrial conference before Judge Self, Hollander's counsel argued the motion for in-patient drug treatment.

" Judge, Mr. Hollander is a notorious paint huffer. He has been huffing paint since, I think, thirteen years old.[3]
" ....
" I've represented Mr. Hollander for years, Judge, on various matters. And as an officer of the court, I can represent to you that I've never ...

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