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Taylor v. Tennessee Department of Correction

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 13, 2017

JAMES WILLIAM TAYLOR
v.
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION et al.

          Assigned on Briefs January 4, 2017.

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 16-0046-IV Russell T. Perkins, Chancellor.

         An inmate in the custody of the Department of Correction appeals the dismissal of his petition for declaratory judgment. He claims his sentence is calculated incorrectly, and he is entitled to custodial parole and safety valve hearings. Upon motion of the Respondents, the trial court granted summary judgment dismissing the petition. We affirm.

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

          James William Taylor, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, Andree S. Blumstein, and Charlotte Davis, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Correction, Derrick Schofield; Tennessee Board of Parole, Commissioner Richard Montgomery; Sentencing Information Service, Manager Jeannetta Kimbro; Legal Services Department of Correction, Douglas Stephens.

          Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas R. Frierson, II and Brandon O. Gibson, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          FRANK G. CLEMENT, JR., P.J., M.S.

         James William Taylor ("Petitioner"), an inmate housed at Northwest Correctional Complex, is in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction ("TDOC") serving several consecutive sentences including one life sentence. On January 15, 2016, Petitioner filed this declaratory judgment action contending he is entitled to parole consideration because his sentence is "calculated incorrectly." The respondents are Derrick Schofield, Richard Montgomery, Jeanetta Kimbro, and Douglas Stephens ("Respondents").

         Petitioner filed a "Motion to Add Show of Cause for Damages and Request for Relief" on May 24, 2016, in which he contended his constitutional rights had been violated due to the incorrect calculation of his sentence. He further argued that he qualified for custodial parole and safety valve consideration. On June 6, 2016, Respondents filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asserting Petitioner was not entitled to custodial parole or safety valve consideration and that his sentence was calculated correctly. Respondents filed with the motion a memorandum of law, a statement of undisputed facts, and an affidavit from Candace J. Whisman, Director of Sentence Management Services. The trial court found the material facts undisputed, which we summarize below.

         On August 19, 1988, Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder, second degree burglary, and simple robbery in Case #188-108, to which he was sentenced as follows:

(1) a life sentence for first degree murder with release eligibility after service of 30 years pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-501(f) (Supp. 1987);
(2) a 15-year sentence for second degree burglary (to be served at 35%) to run consecutively to the life sentence for first degree murder; and
(3) a 15-year sentence for simple robbery (to be served at 35%) to run consecutively to the sentence for ...

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