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State v. Woods

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

January 25, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
TEDRIK WOODS

          Assigned on Briefs January 5, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 09-06406 W. Mark Ward, Judge.

         The Petitioner, Tedrik Woods, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Because the Petitioner's three-year sentence for employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony is illegal, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case to the trial court for proceedings consistent with Rule 36.1 and this opinion.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Reversed and Remanded

          Tedrik Woods, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and D. Gregory Gilbert, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE.

         On September 9, 2011, the Petitioner entered an Alford or "best interest" guilty plea in indictment number 09-06406 to two counts of attempted second degree murder and one count of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.[1]Pursuant to a plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to concurrent eight-year sentences at thirty percent release eligibility for the attempted second degree murder convictions and a consecutive three-year sentence at one hundred percent release eligibility for the firearm conviction.[2]

         On May 23, 2016, the Petitioner filed a pro se "Motion to Correct Judgment" pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. In the motion, the Petitioner cited Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324(c), which states that a person may not be charged with possession or employment of a firearm offense pursuant to Code sections 39-17-1324(a) or (b) "if possessing or employing a firearm is an essential element of the underlying dangerous felony as charged." The Petitioner alleged that he was erroneously charged with employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony because the factual allegations supporting his two charges for attempted second degree murder were that the Petitioner shot the victim one time in the arm. He claimed that because possessing or employing a firearm was an essential element of his attempted second degree murder charges based on these factual allegations, his plea agreement was void, and his three-year sentence for employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony should be reversed and dismissed.

         On June 1, 2016, the trial court entered an order summarily denying the motion because it failed to state a colorable claim for relief. The Petitioner, proceeding pro se, filed a timely appeal from this order.

         ANALYSIS

         On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in summarily denying his motion on the basis that it failed to state a colorable claim. He also reiterates the allegation that his three-year sentence for employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony is illegal because employing a firearm was an essential element of his attempted second degree murder convictions. The Petitioner asks that his illegal three-year sentence for the firearm conviction be "corrected, modified, and/or voided" because "it is impermissible" under Code section 39-17-1324(c)" and because "the trial court lacked the statutory authority to impose such a sentence." The State responds that the Petitioner has failed to present a colorable claim for relief. Specifically, it asserts that Rule 36.1 cannot be used to attack an underlying conviction and that employing a firearm is not an element of the offense of attempted second degree murder. Because the uniform judgment document shows that the Petitioner's three-year sentence for employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony is illegal on its face pursuant to the mandate in Code section 39-17-1324(h)(1) (Supp. 2008), we reverse the order summarily denying the Rule 36.1 motion and remand the case to the trial court for proceedings consistent with Rule 36.1 and this opinion.

         Pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, "[e]ither the defendant or the state may, at any time, seek the correction of an illegal sentence." Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(a)(1). "For purposes of this rule, an illegal sentence is one that is not authorized by the applicable statutes or that directly contravenes an applicable statute." Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(a)(2). A petitioner is only entitled to a hearing and appointment of counsel "[i]f the motion states a colorable claim that the unexpired sentence is illegal." Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(b)(3); see State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200, 211 (Tenn. 2015) (stating that "a Rule 36.1 motion may be summarily dismissed for failure to state a colorable claim if the alleged illegal sentence has expired."). A colorable claim is "a claim that, if taken as true and viewed in a light most favorable to the moving party, would entitle the moving party to relief under Rule 36.1." State v. Wooden, 478 S.W.3d 585, 593 (Tenn. 2015). Whether ...


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