E. LOUIS THOMAS
GRADY PERRY, WARDEN
Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville January 18, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Hardeman County No. 2016-CR-108
Joe H. Walker III, Judge
Petitioner, E. Louis Thomas, appeals the Hardeman County
Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for a
writ of habeas corpus from his 2008 conviction for first
degree premeditated murder and his life sentence. He contends
that (1) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel,
(2) the trial court violated his right to a fair trial by
admitting the Petitioner's confession, and (3) the habeas
corpus court violated his due process rights by summarily
dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Louis Thomas, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M.
Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General, and D. Mike
Dunavant, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE
September 27, 2007, the Petitioner was convicted of first
degree premeditated murder and felony murder. The judgments
were entered on May 13, 2008. The murder convictions were
merged, and the Petitioner received a life sentence. The
Petitioner's convictions were affirmed on appeal. See
State v. E. Louis Thomas, No. W2008-01360-CCA-R3-CD,
2010 WL 2977874 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jul. 29, 2010), perm.
app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 18, 2011). He filed a petition
for post-conviction relief, which was dismissed as untimely,
and this court affirmed the dismissal. See E. Louis
Thomas v. State, No. W2012-00999-CCA-MR3-PC, 2013 WL
6001938 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 8, 2013). On June 16, 2016, he
filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging
that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and
that the trial court violated his right to a fair trial by
admitting a coerced statement. The habeas corpus court
summarily denied relief, concluding that the Petitioner had
not alleged a cognizable claim, that the Petitioner's
sentence had not expired, and that the trial court had
jurisdiction to sentence him. This appeal followed.
corpus relief is generally available to "[a]ny person
imprisoned or restrained of liberty" whose judgment is
void or whose sentence has expired. T.C.A. § 29-21-101
(2012); see Tucker v. Morrow, 335 S.W.3d 116, 119-20
(Tenn. Crim. App. 2009). A petitioner has the burden of
proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a judgment is
void or that a sentence has expired. State v.
Davenport, 980 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1998).
A void judgment exists if it appears from the face of the
judgment or the record that the convicting court lacked
jurisdiction or authority to sentence the defendant or that
the defendant's sentence has expired. Archer v.
State, 851 S.W.2d 157, 161 (Tenn. 1993); see Moody
v. State, 160 S.W.3d 512, 515 (Tenn. 2005). In contrast,
"[a] voidable judgment is one that is facially valid and
requires proof beyond the face of the record or judgment to
establish its invalidity." Summers v. State,
212 S.W.3d 251, 256 (Tenn. 2007); see State v.
Ritchie, 20 S.W.3d 624, 630 (Tenn. 2000).
relief, not habeas corpus relief, is the appropriate avenue
of relief for certain voidable judgments. T.C.A. §
40-30-103 (2012); see Vaughn v. State, 202 S.W.3d
106, 115 (Tenn. 2006). A habeas corpus court may dismiss a
petition for relief without an evidentiary hearing or the
appointment of counsel when the petition fails to state a
cognizable claim. Yates v. Parker, 371 S.W.3d 152,
155 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2012); see T.C.A. §
29-21-109 (2012). The question of whether habeas corpus
relief should be granted is a question of law, and this court
will review the matter de novo without a presumption of
correctness. Hogan v. Mills, 168 S.W.3d 753, 755
Assistance of Counsel
Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective
assistance of counsel because counsel did not include the
suppression hearing transcript in the appellate record. The
State responds that this issue does not constitute a