Assigned on Briefs October 7, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 02-08615 John Wheeler Campbell, Judge
Jarvis Taylor, Henning, Tennessee, pro se.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Kirby Mays, Assistant District Attorney General, for the respondent, State of Tennessee.
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE
Petitioner was convicted of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery based largely on the testimony of his friend, Antonio Watkins, to whom Petitioner confessed the crime. See Jarvis Taylor v. State, 2006 WL 2242096, at *4. His convictions and effective life sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. Id. The Tennessee Supreme Court denied his permission to appeal.
On January 22, 2014, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioner acknowledged that the petition was untimely but argued that he was entitled to due process tolling because he had been in maximum security segregation from March 4, 2007, to May 24, 2012, during which time he had no access to the law library, and because he was unaware of his post-conviction rights after the withdrawal of his appellate counsel. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition for failure to assert a colorable claim because "the fact that the [P]etitioner was in segregation a[t] the Tennessee Department of Corrections does not prevent the filing of a petition for post-conviction relief, " and Petitioner "has not stated grounds that would allow this [c]ourt to ignore the one-year statute of limitation contained in T.C.A. § 40-30-102(a)." Petitioner appeals.
On appeal, Petitioner insists that the statute of limitations should be tolled because: (1) his appellate counsel withdrew from the case and failed to inform him of his right to seek post-conviction relief; and (2) Petitioner was placed on maximum security segregation "due to unfortunate circumstances outside [his] control" shortly after the conclusion of his direct appeal. We disagree. Additionally, Petitioner asks this Court to extend the holding in Frazier v. State, 303 S.W.3d 674 (Tenn. 2010),  to require courts to inform defendants of post-conviction procedure "as a matter of fundamental fairness." We decline to do so.
Under the Post-Conviction Procedure Act, relief is available when a conviction "is void or voidable because of the abridgment of any right guaranteed by the Constitution of Tennessee or the Constitution of the United States." T.C.A. § 40-30-103. A petition for post-conviction relief must be filed within one year of the date on which the judgment became final if no direct appeal was taken. T.C.A. § 40-30-102(a). Our legislature emphasized the fact that "[t]ime is of the essence of the right to file a petition for post-conviction relief, " id., and provided only three narrow exceptions to the statute of limitations: (1) a new constitutional right with retrospective application; (2) new scientific evidence establishing actual innocence; and (3) the invalidation of convictions underlying an enhanced sentence. T.C.A. § 40-30-102(b).
However, the right to due process may necessitate tolling the statute of limitations in certain circumstances outside of the enumerated statutory exceptions. See Seals v. State, 23 S.W.3d 272 (Tenn. 2000); Burford v. State, 845 S.W.2d 204 (Tenn. 1992). Our supreme court has held:
[B]efore a state may terminate a claim for failure to comply with procedural requirements such as statutes of limitations, due process requires that a potential litigant be provided an opportunity for "presentation of claims at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner." The test is "whether the time period provides an applicant a ...