Collier v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
A grand jury indicted Cordalero Collier in 2008 for a number of offenses, including murder. Months later, with the assistance of counsel, Collier entered a negotiated guilty plea to felony murder and the trial court entered an order of nolle prosequi on the remaining counts. Following the plea hearing, the court sentenced Collier to serve life in prison. Ten years later in 2018, Collier filed a pro se motion for an out-of-time appeal, contending, inter alia, that his plea counsel was ineffective for failing to inform him of his right to an appeal. Collier contended that immediately after the superior court sentenced him and explained his right to appeal, he “informed his counsel that he wanted to withdraw his plea and file an appeal of his conviction.” The trial court, after reviewing “the record and applicable law,” summarily denied Collier’s motion. Review of Collier’s case lead the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse a long line of cases with respect to out-of-time appeals. The Court also overruled a “peculiar line of cases” where a criminal defendant’s right to appeal directly from a judgment entered on a guilty plea was qualified in scope. Because the trial court denied Collier’s motion for an out-of-time appeal without holding an evidentiary hearing, the Supreme Court could not determine from the appellate record whether Collier’s failure to timely pursue an appeal was actually the result of his counsel’s deficient performance. Moreover, it recognized that, given the clear, though incorrect, mandate of the case law overruled by this opinion, Collier did not have a full and fair opportunity to pursue his motion for an out-of-time appeal before the trial court, the State did not have a full and fair opportunity to raise defenses, and the trial court did not have the benefit of this opinion to guide its consideration of the parties’ evidence and arguments. Therefore, the previous order in this case was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings.