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State v. Greenlee

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 1, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
SEAN GREENLEE

          Assigned on Briefs August 15, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 96574 G. Scott Green, Judge

         Sean Greenlee, the Defendant, appeals the summary denial of his "Motion to Correct Sentence" filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Because the motion failed to state a colorable claim, we affirm the trial court's summary denial of the motion.

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

          Sean Greenlee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Randall E. Nichols, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         In 2011, the Defendant was indicted on four counts of Class A felony rape of a child and three counts of Class B felony aggravated sexual battery. The Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery and was sentenced pursuant to a plea agreement to consecutive eleven-year sentences. In 2016, the Defendant filed a "Motion to Correct Sentence" pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 ("the Rule 36.1 motion"). The Rule 36.1 motion stated that the Defendant did not understand the term "consecutive sentences" because he had an "organic mental disorder" and had been "deemed disabled" by the Social Security Administration. The Rule 36.1 motion does not claim that the sentence is illegal. The trial court found that the Rule 36.1 motion did not state a colorable claim and summarily denied the Rule 36.1 motion without a hearing. The Defendant appealed.

         II. Analysis

         On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in dismissing the Rule 36.1 motion because his sentence was "not authorized by the applicable statutes or that directly contravenes an applicable statute." See Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(a)(2). The State argues the trial court correctly determined that the Rule 36.1 motion failed to state a colorable claim. We agree with the State.

         As relevant to this appeal, Rule 36.1(a)(1) allows a defendant, at any time, to seek the correction of an illegal sentence by filing a motion in the trial court in which the judgment of conviction was entered. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(a)(1). Subsection (a)(2) provides: "[f]or purposes of this rule, an illegal sentence is one that is not authorized by the applicable statutes or that directly contravenes an applicable statute." Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(a)(2). Subsection (b)(2) authorizes the trial court to summarily deny the motion without a hearing if the motion fails to state a colorable claim. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(b)(2). Although the term "colorable claim" is not defined in Rule 36.1, our supreme court has held "that the definition of 'colorable claim' in Rule 28, section 2(H) of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court applies to the term "colorable claim" in Rule 36.1. State v. Wooden, 478 S.W.3d 585, 587 (Tenn. 2015). As relevant to this case, Rule 28, section 2(H) provides: "A colorable claim is a claim . . . that, if taken as true, in light most favorable to [the Defendant], would entitle [the Defendant] to relief[.]" "Whether the Defendant's motion states a colorable claim for correction of an illegal sentence under Rule 36.1 is a question of law, to which de novo review applies." Id. at 589.

         The Defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery of a child less than thirteen years of age, a Class B felony. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-504(a)(4). The Defendant was sentenced to eleven years on each of the two counts as a Range I, standard offender. The sentencing range for a Range I, standard offender convicted of "a Class B felony [is] not less than eight (8) nor more than twelve (12) years." Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-112(a)(2). The eleven-year ...


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