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Mullins v. Lindamood

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 4, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs June 20, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Wayne County No. 15943 Robert L. Jones, Judge

         The Petitioner, Phillip M. Mullins, appeals the Wayne County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 2001 convictions and his effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole plus twenty-five years. He contends that his convictions violate double jeopardy principles on several grounds. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

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

          Phillip M. Mullins, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Brent A. Cooper, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



         On October 19, 2001, the Petitioner was convicted of first degree felony murder, second degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated burglary. The murder convictions were merged, and the Petitioner received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The Petitioner also received concurrent sentences of twenty-five years for the especially aggravated robbery conviction and twelve years for the especially aggravated burglary conviction, which were to be served consecutively to the life sentence. The Petitioner's convictions were affirmed on appeal. See State v. Phillip M. Mullins, No. M2002-02977-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 23021402 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 29, 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jun. 1, 2004). He filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging the ineffective assistance of counsel and several other claims. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and this court affirmed. See Phillip M. Mullins v. State, No. M2008-00332-CCA-R3-PC, 2008 WL 5272573 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 19, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 27, 2009). On October 17, 2016, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the indictments were defective because (1) Count 1, felony murder, named aggravated burglary as the underlying felony, for which the Petitioner was not indicted, (2) Count 4, especially aggravated burglary, failed to allege a mental state and alleged that a robbery occurred, not a theft, and (3) Count 4 charged two separate offenses in the same count, especially aggravated burglary and robbery. The habeas corpus court summarily denied relief, concluding that the Petitioner had not alleged a cognizable claim and that the trial court had jurisdiction to sentence him. This appeal followed.

         On appeal, the Petitioner does not address the issues raised in the pro se petition, but rather raises several additional issues: (1) The Petitioner's convictions violate double jeopardy because they arose from the same criminal episode; (2) Dual convictions for especially aggravated burglary and especially aggravated robbery relying upon the same injury to the victim are statutorily barred; and (3) the Petitioner's convictions in Counts 1 and 3 violate double jeopardy because "the Appellant was convicted in Counts 1 and 3 of especially aggravated burglary, since the burglary was the underlying felony" for felony murder, and only one entry of a habitation occurred.

         Habeas corpus relief is generally available to "[a]ny person imprisoned or restrained of liberty" whose judgment is void or whose sentence has expired. T.C.A. § 29-21-101 (2012); see Tucker v. Morrow, 335 S.W.3d 116, 119-20 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2009). A petitioner has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a judgment is void or that a sentence has expired. State v. Davenport, 980 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1998). A void judgment exists if it appears from the face of the judgment or the record that the convicting court lacked jurisdiction or authority to sentence the defendant or that the defendant's sentence has expired. Archer v. State, 851 S.W.2d 157, 161 (Tenn. 1993); see Moody v. State, 160 S.W.3d 512, 515 (Tenn. 2005). In contrast, "[a] voidable judgment is one that is facially valid and requires proof beyond the face of the record or judgment to establish its invalidity." Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 256 (Tenn. 2007); see State v. Ritchie, 20 S.W.3d 624, 630 (Tenn. 2000).

         Post-conviction relief, not habeas corpus relief, is the appropriate avenue of relief for certain voidable judgments. T.C.A. § 40-30-103 (2012); see Vaughn v. State, 202 S.W.3d 106, 115 (Tenn. 2006). A habeas corpus court may dismiss a petition for relief without an evidentiary hearing or the appointment of counsel when the petition fails to state a cognizable claim. Yates v. Parker, 371 S.W.3d 152, 155 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2012); see T.C.A. § 29-21-109 (2012). The question of whether habeas corpus relief should be granted is a question of law, and this court will review the matter de novo without a presumption of correctness. Hogan v. Mills, 168 S.W.3d 753, 755 (Tenn. 2005).


         Issues ...

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