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State v. Hall

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 22, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
CARL HALL

          Assigned on Briefs January 18, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 10-02597 James C. Beasley, Jr., Judge

         The Appellant, Carl Hall, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred because his motion stated a colorable claim for relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Carl Hall, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Karen Cook, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         In January 2012, the Appellant pled guilty to two counts of attempted second degree murder, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of especially aggravated burglary, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and two counts of aggravated assault. The Appellant received a total effective sentence of thirty-one years.

         On February 23, 2016, the Appellant filed the instant Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, alleging that his conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony violated his constitutional protections against double jeopardy and that his trial counsel and the trial court failed to "safeguard his rights" with respect to "a crime that they knew by a preponderance of [the] evidence that [he] did not actually commit, but facilitated the culprit." On April 6, 2016, the trial court entered a written order summarily denying the Appellant's Rule 36.1 motion for failing to state a colorable claim.

         In response to the trial court's denial of his Rule 36.1 motion, the Appellant filed a notice of appeal to this court. Along with the notice of appeal, the Appellant filed a "motion for reconsideration" with the trial court. In the "motion for reconsideration, " the Appellant alleged that the trial court improperly set the length of his sentences without addressing the applicable enhancement and mitigating factors and that it imposed partial consecutive sentences without addressing the applicable consecutive sentencing factors. The motion also alleged that the Appellant's convictions for aggravated assault violated his constitutional protections against double jeopardy.

         The trial court did not respond to the Appellant's "motion for reconsideration, " and its denial of the Rule 36.1 motion is now before this court on direct appeal. In his brief, the Appellant raises the same arguments regarding the length and consecutive nature of his sentences that he raised in his "motion for reconsideration." Additionally, the Appellant contends that the indictment underlying his conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony was defective and that his sentence of six years for that conviction exceeded what was statutorily prescribed. The State responds that none of the Appellant's arguments state a colorable claim for Rule 36.1 relief.

         At the time the Appellant's motion was filed, [1] Rule 36.1 allowed for either the defendant or the State to "seek the correction of an illegal sentence." Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(a) (2015). "Illegal sentence" was defined in the rule as a sentence "that [was] not authorized by the applicable statutes or that directly contravene[d] an applicable statute." Id. The term "illegal sentence" "is synonymous with the habeas corpus concept of a 'void' sentence." Cox v. State, 53 S.W.3d 287, 292 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2001), overruled on other grounds, Moody v. State, 160 S.W.3d 512 (Tenn. 2005). "[F]ew sentencing errors [will] render [a sentence] illegal." State v. Wooden, 478 S.W.3d 585, 595 (Tenn. 2015).

         Examples of illegal sentences include "sentences imposed pursuant to an inapplicable statutory scheme, sentences designating release eligibility dates where early release is statutorily prohibited, sentences that are ordered to be served concurrently where statutorily required to be served consecutively, and sentences not authorized by any statute for the offense." Wooden, 478 S.W.3d at 595. Conversely, "attacks on the correctness of the methodology by which a trial court imposed [a] sentence, " such as allegations that the trial court improperly applied enhancement, mitigating, or consecutive sentencing factors, will not rise to the level of an illegal sentence. Id. Furthermore, Rule 36.1 applies to sentences and "does not ...


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