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State v. Carr

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 9, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
GARY CARR

          Assigned on Briefs: January 5, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 96-02206 Lee V. Coffee, Judge No. W2016-01525-CCA-R3-CD

         On March 13, 1998, the petitioner, Gary Carr, entered a guilty plea to first-degree murder and received a sentence of life without parole. He did not file any post-judgment appeals. Eighteen years later, the petitioner, acting pro se, filed a motion entitled "Motion for Nunc Pro Tunc Order, " alleging, inter alia, that his conviction should be set aside and a new trial ordered because (1) the court clerk failed to enter or stamp-file his judgment of conviction in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e); and (2) he entered an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea based on threats that he would receive the death penalty. The Shelby County Criminal Court summarily dismissed his motion, and the petitioner now appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Gary Carr, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alanda Dwyer, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE.

         On June 14, 2016, the petitioner filed a document entitled, "Motion for Nu[n]c Pro Tunc Order, " alleging that the "criminal court clerk failed to enter the judgment within accordance of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e)." The motion sought to set aside his judgment of conviction and order a new trial because "the judge that heard the evidence and sentenced the defendant is the only one that can enter an order nunc pro tunc." On June 27, 2016, the trial court entered a ten-page, detailed order summarily dismissing the petitioner's motion. Because of the unorthodox nature of the filing, the trial court interpreted it as a motion to withdraw the petitioner's guilty plea and as a petition for post-conviction relief. Interpreting the motion as a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, the trial court determined that the petitioner's guilty plea was "knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered" and that the petitioner understood his rights before entering his guilty plea. The trial court further determined that the original trial court followed the "mandates of Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure and applicable state and federal law, " and that the petitioner failed to show any "manifest injustice" that would allow the withdrawal of his guilty plea. Alternatively, interpreting the motion as a petition for post-conviction relief, the trial court determined that the petition was barred by the statute of limitations and that the petitioner failed to "offer any due process grounds" to support waiver of the limitations period. It is from this order that the petitioner now timely appeals.

         ANAYLSIS

         On appeal, the petitioner argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion because the criminal court clerk failed to enter his 1998 judgment pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e). As we understand his argument, the petitioner claims his judgment of conviction should be set aside and a new trial ordered because his judgment form was not stamp-filed or "endorsed" by the clerk's office. For the first time on appeal, the petitioner also argues that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary based on threats he would receive the death penalty and that his sentence was unlawfully imposed. The State argues that the petitioner's judgment of conviction became final on April 13, 1998, and that the trial court found that the judgment was properly filed. The State also contends that the trial court properly denied the petitioner's motion as a motion to withdraw his guilty plea or as a petition for post-conviction relief. Upon review, we agree with the State.

         The petitioner claims that his conviction should be set aside because the court clerk failed to properly enter his 1998 judgment pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e). Rule 32(e) governs judgments and provides as follows:

(1) Signed and Entered. A judgment of conviction shall be signed by the judge and ...

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