A man sentenced to 18 years after pleading guilty to a methamphetamine charge may not collaterally challenge the evidence underlying his conviction through a petition for post-conviction relief, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
The judges affirmed the denial of Everett Sweet’s pro se petition for post-conviction relief from his Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine conviction. He was charged after Jason Weinley found a mobile meth lab in Sweet’s backpack, which was at Weinley’s house.
Weinley was never questioned about his relationship with the Huntington Police Department, for which Sweet says he is a paid informant.
“Sweet asserts that his conviction must be reversed because, had his counsel not rendered ineffective assistance, his motion to suppress the State’s evidence would have been granted. This is, in effect, a challenge to the evidence underlying Sweet’s conviction,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Everett Sweet v. State of Indiana, 35A02-1305-PC-451. “But Sweet’s conviction is based on his own guilty plea and the factual basis underlying his plea. Accordingly, he may not challenge the evidence underlying his conviction in the post-conviction forum. And Sweet does not suggest that, independent of his counsel’s alleged ineffective assistance, his guilty plea was neither counseled nor voluntary.
“In sum, our post-conviction rules do not permit a defendant who has pleaded guilty to collaterally challenge the evidence underlying his conviction.”