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Belcher v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 25, 2014

CALEB J. BELCHER
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

Assigned on Briefs September 16, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Monroe County No. 490614 Carroll L. Ross, Judge

Caleb J. Belcher, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Roger A. Page, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

OPINION

ROGER A. PAGE, JUDGE

I. Procedural History

Based upon the record before us, petitioner entered the aforementioned guilty pleas on June 27, 2011. He did not file a direct appeal from those convictions. An order appended to petitioner's brief indicates that he filed his first petition for post-conviction relief prior to March 12, 2012, which was the date of the order of dismissal. The petition itself is neither contained in the record nor attached to petitioner's brief. On February 24, 2014, he filed a second petition for post-conviction relief specifically requesting DNA analysis pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 ("the Act") and alleging various instances of ineffective assistance of counsel and other constitutional violations. The post-conviction court entered an order summarily dismissing the petition on March 18, 2014. Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal from the order of dismissal.

II. Analysis

Petitioner alleges that the post-conviction court erred by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on his request for DNA testing and that it erred by failing to properly address tolling of the statute of limitations for filing a petition for relief under due process principles.

A. Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001

Petitioner requested DNA testing of evidence relating to his 2011 convictions. The Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 allows petitioners convicted and sentenced for certain homicide and sexual assault offenses in which biological evidence may have existed to request post-conviction DNA testing. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-30-303. The Act contains no statutory time limit and extends to petitioners the opportunity to request analysis at "any time, " regardless of whether such a request was made at trial:

[A] person convicted of and sentenced for . . . rape . . . may at any time, file a petition requesting the forensic DNA analysis of any evidence that is in the possession or control of the prosecution, law enforcement, laboratory, or court, and that is related to the investigation or prosecution that ...

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