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Young v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 17, 2018

THOMAS ERNEST YOUNG
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs August 8, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2013-C-2425 Seth W. Norman, Judge

         The Petitioner, Thomas Ernest Young, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief, alleging that his guilty-pleaded conviction for Class C felony possession of cocaine is void because the cocaine was obtained following his unlawful arrest, because he was the victim of vindictive prosecution, because he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and because his plea resulted from coercion. Alternatively, he submits that we should treat his petition as one seeking post-conviction relief and that the one-year statute of limitations should be tolled due to his mental incompetence. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief and, furthermore, that tolling of the one-year limitations period for filing a post-conviction petition is not required. Therefore, we affirm summary dismissal of his petition.

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

          Thomas Ernest Young, Hartsville, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter, and Courtney R. Orr, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         A Davidson County grand jury charged the Petitioner with possessing, on May 30, 2013, 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-417(a)(4), (c)(1). He thereafter pled guilty, on April 17, 2014, to the lesser-included offense of possession of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-417(c)(2)(A). In exchange for his plea, the Petitioner received a six-year sentence as a Range I, standard offender to be served in the Department of Correction and consecutively to a prior "parole case." Judgment was entered that same day, April 17, 2014, [1] and reflects that the Petitioner was "to report" a week later, on April 24, 2014.

         On March 21, 2016, the Petitioner, pro se, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Davidson County Criminal Court, asserting that his conviction was void: (1) because the Petitioner was subjected to an illegal Terry[2] stop and, therefore, the drugs were illegally obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights; (2) because the Petitioner was the "victim of selective prosecution, racial discrimination, and overreaching by police and/or police misconduct"; (3) because trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress the drugs and for providing incorrect advice regarding the Petitioner's bond; and (4) because the Petitioner was coerced into signing the plea agreement. The habeas corpus court dismissed this petition on May 11, 2016, finding that the Petitioner was incarcerated in the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville, Tennessee, and that the Petitioner had not filed the petition in the court most convenient to him or provided any reason for filing the petition in Davidson County, the county of conviction. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-21-105.

         The Petitioner filed a second pro se petition in the Davidson County Criminal Court on September 23, 2016, asserting the same grounds for relief. The Petitioner further noted,

The [P]etitioner is currently being housed at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center. He is on the list to be transferred to Riverbend in Nashville, TN, Davidson County.[3] Also, the [P]etitioner filed a petition in Trousdale County. The petition was denied[;] the court stated it didn't have jurisdiction to rule on the petition. These are the reasons for filing in Davidson County.

         The Petitioner attached a letter from the Trousdale County Criminal Court Judge, informing the Petitioner that the Trousdale County Criminal Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to rule on the petition because the Petitioner "ha[d] never been before [that] [c]ourt."

         The Davidson County Criminal Court summarily dismissed this second petition by written order filed on October 17, 2016. Citing to the letter from the Trousdale County Criminal Court Judge, the habeas corpus court first noted, "[T]he Petitioner appears to have pursued such a writ in Trousdale County, where it was denied because the facts alleged[ly] occurred in Davidson County." For that reason, the habeas corpus court decided to consider the petition on its merits. In addressing the merits of the petition, the habeas corpus court concluded that the Petitioner had failed to state a cognizable claim for relief via a writ for habeas corpus and that if the petition was treated as one seeking post-conviction relief, it was time-barred. Moreover, the habeas corpus court found that the Petitioner "asserted no grounds for which the time bar might be waived."

         The Petitioner's notice of appeal document was filed with the Davidson County Court Clerk on November 21, 2016. The Petitioner stated therein that he was not "served" with the habeas corpus court's order until November 15, 2016, and that he was executing the notice of appeal document on November 17, 2016. According to the Petitioner, the habeas corpus court's order was first mailed to the "SPND" or "Special Need Facility" before being rerouted to the Trousdale Turner Correctional ...


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