Assigned on Briefs March 7, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Lake County No. 16-CR-10255 R. Lee
Moore, Jr., Judge.
petitioner, David Enrique Leon, appeals the summary dismissal
of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which petition
challenged his 2009 Dickson County Circuit Court jury
conviction of first degree felony murder. Discerning no
error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed.
Enrique Leon, Tiptonville, Tennessee, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; and
Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee,
State of Tennessee.
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE
Dickson County Circuit Court jury convicted the petitioner of
the first degree felony murder of the victim, Rodolfo
Padilla, during the robbery of the victim at the La Estrella
Grocery Store on Highway 46 in Dickson. See State v.
David Enrique Leon, No. M2010-00513-CCA-R3-CD, slip op.
at 1 (Tenn. Crim. App., Jackson, Aug. 18, 2011). This court
affirmed the defendant's convictions and sentence on
direct appeal, see id., as well as the subsequent
denial of the petitioner's bid for post-conviction
relief, see David Enrique Leon v. State, No.
M2013-00519-CCA-R3-PC, slip op. at 1 (Tenn. Crim. App.,
Jackson, Oct. 18, 2013).
August 2016, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of
habeas corpus, claiming that the judgment for his conviction
of felony murder was void because the presentment failed to
include the phrase "in the perpetration of or attempt to
perpetrate any first degree murder, act of terrorism, arson,
rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, aggravated child
abuse, aggravated child neglect, or aircraft piracy."
The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition,
finding, upon its review of the indictment, "no basis to
support" the petitioner's claim.
appeal, the petitioner asserts that the habeas corpus court
erred by summarily dismissing his petition.
determination of whether habeas corpus relief should be
granted is a question of law." Faulkner v.
State, 226 S.W.3d 358, 361 (Tenn. 2007) (citing Hart
v. State, 21 S.W.3d 901, 903 (Tenn. 2000)). Our review
of the habeas corpus court's decision is, therefore,
"de novo with no presumption of correctness afforded to
the [habeas corpus] court." Id. (citing
Killingsworth v. Ted Russell Ford, Inc., 205 S.W.3d
406, 408 (Tenn. 2006)). The writ of habeas corpus is
constitutionally guaranteed, see U.S. Const. art. 1,
§ 9, cl. 2; Tenn. Const. art. I, § 15, but has been
regulated by statute for more than a century, see Ussery
v. Avery, 432 S.W.2d 656, 657 (Tenn. 1968). Tennessee
Code Annotated section 29-21-101 provides that "[a]ny
person imprisoned or restrained of liberty, under any
pretense whatsoever, except in cases specified in §
29-21-102, may prosecute a writ of habeas corpus, to inquire
into the cause of such imprisonment and restraint."
T.C.A. § 29-21-101. Despite the broad wording of the
statute, a writ of habeas corpus may be granted only when the
petitioner has established a lack of jurisdiction for the
order of confinement or that he is otherwise entitled to
immediate release because of the expiration of his sentence.
See Ussery, 432 S.W.2d at 658; State v.
Galloway, 45 Tenn. (5 Cold.) 326 (1868). The purpose of
the state habeas corpus petition is to contest a void, not
merely a voidable, judgment. State ex rel. Newsom v.
Henderson, 424 S.W.2d 186, 189 (Tenn. 1968). A void
conviction is one which strikes at the jurisdictional
integrity of the trial court. Archer v. State, 851
S.W.2d 157, 164 (Tenn. 1993); see State ex rel. Anglin v.
Mitchell, 575 S.W.2d 284, 287 (Tenn. 1979);
Passarella v. State, 891 S.W.2d 619, 627 (Tenn.
Crim. App. 1994).
the State contends that the petitioner failed to satisfy the
mandatory statutory requirements for filing a petition for
writ of habeas corpus by failing to attach the final copy of
the judgment for his felony murder conviction to his
petition. See T.C.A. § 29-21-107(b)(2)
("The cause or pretense of such restraint according to
the best information of the applicant, and if it be by virtue
of any legal process, a copy thereof shall be annexed, or a
satisfactory reason given for its absence[.]"). The
judgment form appended to the petition does appear to be only
a sort of preliminary judgment in that it does not
memorialize the sentence imposed for the defendant's
conviction of felony murder. That being said, because the
State did not seek a sentence of death or life without the
possibility of parole, the only sentence available was life
imprisonment. See id. § 39-13-208(c) ("If
notice is not filed pursuant to subsection (a) or (b), the
defendant shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life by the
court, if the defendant is found guilty of murder in the
first degree."). Under these circumstances, we do not
believe that the petitioner's minor procedural lapse,
standing alone, would have justified the summary dismissal of
habeas corpus proceeding, however, is not the proper vehicle
for testing the sufficiency of an indictment unless the
indictment is "so defective as to deprive the court of
jurisdiction." Dykes v. Compton, 978 S.W.2d
528, 529 (Tenn. 1998). The law in Tennessee is that an
indictment must provide "sufficient information (1) to
enable the accused to know the accusation to which answer is
required, (2) to furnish the court adequate basis for the
entry of a proper judgment, and (3) to protect the ...