Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
RATHAL Y. PERKINS
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs April 19, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 00256162
Steve Dozier, Judge
petitioner, Rathal Y. Perkins, appeals the summary dismissal
of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which challenged
his 1995 Haywood County Circuit Court jury conviction of
first degree murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed
Y. Perkins, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which John Everett Williams and Camille R. McMullen, JJ.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE
Haywood County Circuit Court jury convicted the petitioner of
first degree premeditated murder in the shooting death of the
victim, Denoatus Murphy, and this court affirmed the
conviction and accompanying sentence of life imprisonment on
direct appeal. See State v. Rathal Perkins, No.
02C01-9708-CC-00325 (Tenn. Crim. App., Jackson, Dec. 10,
August 26, 2016, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of
habeas corpus, claiming that the trial court was without
jurisdiction to impose his conviction because the indictment
was improperly amended after the jury was empaneled and
jeopardy had attached and that his judgment was void because
the trial court provided erroneous jury instructions. The
habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, finding
that the petitioner had consented to the amendment of the
indictment prior to the seating of the jury and that the
petitioner's claim relative to the jury instructions was
not a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief.
appeal, the petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court
erred by summarily dismissing his petition. The State asserts
that the habeas corpus court committed no error because the
petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas
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).
view, the petitioner has failed to establish entitlement to
habeas corpus relief. With regard to the petitioner's
claim relative to the amendment of the indictment, the
documentation attached to the original petition for writ of
habeas corpus belies both the petitioner's claim in the
habeas corpus court that the indictment was amended after
jeopardy had attached and his claim, asserted for the first
time on appeal, that he did not consent to the amendment.
Instead, the excerpt of the trial transcript provided by the
petitioner establishes that the State moved the court to
amend the indictment to correct the statutory reference
before the jury was selected and that the defendant's
attorney consented to the amendment. Moreover, even
"'[i]f the indictment was not properly amended, . .
. the judgment [would be] voidable and not void on its
face." Gary E. Aldridge v. State, No.
M2005-01861-CCA-R3-HC, slip op. at 4 (Tenn. Crim. App.,
Nashville, Apr. 28, 2006) (quoting Donald Walton v.
State, No. M2002-02044-CCA-R3-CO, slip op. at 2 (Tenn.
Crim. App., Nashville, Jan. 28, 2004)).
the petitioner's remaining claim, a claim of error in the
jury instructions is not a cognizable claim for habeas corpus
relief. See, e.g., Danny Ray Lacy v. Cherry
Lindamood, Warden, No. ...