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Mitchell v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 20, 2015

JOE CLARK MITCHELL
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

Assigned on Briefs February 19, 2015 at Knoxville

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Maury County Nos. 2311-12, 2314, 2316-18, 2320-22 Robert L. Holloway, Jr., Judge

Joe Clark Mitchell, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; and Brent A. Cooper, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

OPINION

NORMA McGEE OGLE, JUDGE

I. Factual Background

In 1986, the appellant was charged with offenses in Giles County; after a change of venue was granted, he was tried in Maury County and convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of armed robbery, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of arson, one count of first degree burglary, and two counts of aggravated rape. State v. Joe Clark Mitchell, No. 87-152-III, 1988 WL 32362, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Nashville, Apr. 7, 1988). The trial court imposed four consecutive life sentences for the aggravated kidnapping and the aggravated rape convictions; the remaining sentences were to be served concurrently with the four consecutive life sentences. Id. On direct appeal, this court modified one of the aggravated rape convictions to rape, and the sentence was reduced to thirteen years. Id.

Since his convictions, the appellant has repeatedly pursued relief from his convictions and sentences. His most recent attempt, which is the subject of the instant appeal, is a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. In the motion, the appellant alleged that "the trial court in this case was without jurisdiction to indict/convict and/or enter[] sentence . . . thus rendering the judgments of conviction illegal and void." The appellant argued that because the Twenty-second Judicial District encompassed Giles, Lawrence, Maury, and Wayne Counties, the trial court was required to select members of the grand jury and the petit jury from all four counties. The appellant also alleged that the trial court erred by finding the appellant to be both an especially aggravated offender and a persistent offender and by failing to include the release eligibility percentage on the judgment as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-501.[1] Finally, the appellant alleged that the trial court erroneously sentenced him as a persistent offender in contravention of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-106(a)(1) (1982).[2]

The trial court entered an order summarily dismissing the motion, holding that the appellant's claims regarding the trial court's jurisdiction and sentencing were without merit. On appeal, the appellant challenges this ruling.

II. Analysis

First, the appellant contends that the grand jury that indicted him was chosen solely from citizens of Giles County, not from all of the counties comprising the Twenty-second Judicial District. He maintains that selecting a jury from a single county within a judicial district, instead of from the district as a whole, violates Tennessee Code Annotated sections 16-2-506 and 16-2-510(c) and thereby deprives the trial court of jurisdiction and renders the indictment and resulting convictions and sentences void.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 16-2-501(a), which was enacted in 1984, explained that the purpose of the legislation was "to reorganize the existing trial court system of this state in such a way that its growth occurs in a logical and orderly manner." Within Part 5, the legislature created thirty-one judicial districts. Tenn. Code Ann. ' 16-2-506. The Twenty-second Judicial District was comprised of Giles, Lawrence, Maury, and Wayne Counties. Tenn. Code Ann. ' 16-2-506(19)(A)(1)(i).

The appellant contends the establishment of judicial districts "stripped original jurisdiction from the County courts [and] in the same stroke abolished and outlawed the operation of County juries, (grand or petit) and replaced them with ...


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