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Langley v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

March 2, 2017

KENNETH L. LANGLEY
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs December 20, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Cumberland County No. 12-0018A David Patterson, Judge.

         The Petitioner, Kenneth Leroy Langley, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus court found that it was without jurisdiction to hear the petition because the Petitioner filed the writ in the incorrect county. Although we hold that the habeas corpus court had jurisdiction, we nevertheless affirm the dismissal of the petition.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed.

          Kenneth L. Langley, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; and Bryant C. Dunaway, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., joined.

          OPINION

          JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE.

         On August 15, 2012, the Petitioner pled guilty to burglary and theft of property valued at over $1, 000. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to four years at thirty percent for the burglary conviction and four years at thirty percent for the theft conviction. The trial court ran the sentences concurrently and ordered the Petitioner to serve the sentences on probation, with the first year to be supervised by the community corrections program. In May of 2013, an affidavit of violation of community corrections was sworn against the Petitioner for multiple violations. He pled guilty to the violation of community corrections and was given a one-year extension of his community corrections supervision on probation and sixty days in jail. On December 5, 2013, the Petitioner again violated the terms of his community corrections supervision. Subsequently, he pled guilty to the December 2013 violation. On April 3, 2014, the trial court then revoked the Petitioner's probation and ordered the Petitioner to "serve [the] balance" of his sentence in prison "with credit for time served" in the county jail.

         On June 27, 2016, the Petitioner, while incarcerated in Johnson County, Tennessee, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Criminal Court for Cumberland County. He argued in his petition that the trial court failed to properly award him credit for the time he served on community corrections. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition, finding that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the petition for writ of habeas corpus because the petition should have been filed in Johnson County. See T.C.A. § 29-21-105 ("The [petition for writ of habeas corpus] should be made to the court or judge most convenient in point of distance to the applicant, unless a sufficient reason be given in the petition for not applying to such court or judge."). After the habeas corpus court's dismissal of the petition, the habeas corpus court did, in fact, issue an amended judgment to award the Petitioner eleven days of pretrial jail time credit for time served before his guilty plea in 2012, which the Petitioner requested in a separate claim in the petition. The Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal.

         ANALYSIS

         On appeal, the Petitioner raises two issues. First, he contends that the trial court erred by dismissing the petition for failure to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-21-105, stating that he properly filed his petition in Cumberland County because the Criminal Court for Cumberland County had the necessary records to correct his illegal sentence. He also contends that upon the trial court's decision to revoke his community corrections sentence and order him to serve his sentence in confinement, the trial court did not properly award him credit for the time he served on community corrections. The State concedes that the Petitioner is "probably correct" regarding his argument about proper venue. The State, however, argues that the trial court properly sentenced the Petitioner and did, in fact, award credit for time served on community corrections.

         "The determination of whether habeas corpus relief should be granted is a question of law." Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 255 (Tenn. 2007) (citing Hart v. State, 21 S.W.3d 901, 903 (Tenn. 2000)). This court reviews the dismissal of a habeas corpus petition de novo with no presumption of correctness given to the conclusions of the habeas corpus court. Id. (citing State v. Livingston, 197 S.W.3d 710, 712 (Tenn. 2006).

         Article I, section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution guarantees a prisoner the right to seek habeas corpus relief. However, the grounds for the writ are very narrow. Taylor v. State, 995 S.W.2d 78, 83 (Tenn.1999). Habeas corpus relief is available "only when 'it appears upon the face of the judgment or the record upon which the judgment is rendered' that a convicting court was without jurisdiction or authority to sentence a defendant, or that a defendant's sentence of imprisonment or other restraint has expired." Archer v. State, 851 S.W.2d 157, 164 (Tenn. 1993) (quoting State v. Galloway, 45 Tenn. (5 Cold.) 326, 336-37 (Tenn. 1868)). "[T]he purpose of a habeas corpus petition is to contest void and not merely voidable judgments." Potts v. State, 833 S.W.2d 60, 62 (Tenn. 1992) (citing State ex rel. Newsom v. Henderson, 424 S.W.2d 186, 189 (Tenn. 1968)). A void judgment "is one in which the judgment is facially invalid because the court lacked jurisdiction or authority to render the judgment or because the defendant's sentence has expired." T ...


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