Gooden v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Shontori Gooden appealed after the denial of her motion to withdraw her plea of guilty to felony murder, asserting as her sole enumeration of error that the case should be remanded for a hearing on alleged ineffective assistance of counsel. In 2016, Gooden was indicted for felony murder and other crimes arising out of the October 2016 shooting of Nyla Foster. Represented by a public defender, Gooden entered a negotiated plea of guilty to felony murder and was sentenced. Through different counsel she filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea some time later; as soon as the hearing on that motion began, new counsel moved for a continuance. Counsel stated at first, Gooden wanted to drop her motion to withdraw her plea. He sent the necessary papers to her to withdraw the motion, but she signed them on the wrong signature line; he sent them to her again, but she signed them in too many places, including the signature line for a witness; he sent them to her a final time, but he received no response. He concluded that it would be simpler to have Gooden attend the hearing and withdraw the motion in person, but when he met with her immediately before the hearing, she told him that she wanted to proceed with the motion to withdraw her guilty plea after all. Counsel also informed the court that Gooden had told him that she had mental health issues and refused medication while detained at the county jail but that she had begun taking medication again once in state custody and “is thinking better and that’s why she wants to go forward.” The trial court denied the motion for a continuance and went forward with the hearing. Daniel called no witnesses and presented no evidence but argued that the public defender should have moved for a psychiatric evaluation before allowing Gooden to enter a guilty plea. The Georgia Supreme Court determined could not meet her burden of showing her plea counsel rendered ineffective assistance and affirmed denial of her motion to withdraw her guilty plea.