Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
EARL D. CRAWFORD
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs December 20, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Bradley County No. 16-CR-538
Andrew Mark Freiberg, Judge
petitioner, Earl D. Crawford, appeals pro se from the summary
dismissal of his 2016 petition for post-conviction relief,
which challenged his 1986 convictions of aggravated rape,
aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery. Because the
petition was filed nearly three decades beyond the applicable
statute of limitations, because this is the petitioner's
second petition for post-conviction relief, because the
petitioner failed to either allege or prove a statutory
exception to the timely filing or a due process tolling of
the statute of limitations for filing a petition for
post-conviction relief, and because there is no merit to the
petitioner's claim of sentence illegality, we affirm the
judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court
D. Crawford, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; and
Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE
1986, a Bradley County Criminal Court jury convicted the
petitioner of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and
armed robbery, and the trial court imposed two consecutive
life sentence plus 35 years in prison. This court affirmed
the judgments on direct appeal. State v. Earl David
Crawford, No. 258 (Tenn. Crim. App., Nov. 10, 1987),
perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 14, 1988). On June 28,
1989, the petitioner filed a "Petition For
Post-Conviction Relief Filing To Be Held in Abeyance, "
and, during the pendency of that petition, the petitioner
sought habeas corpus relief, which the trial court apparently
treated as a petition for post-conviction relief and which
the court dismissed as time-barred in July 1991. The court
then, in June 1996, dismissed the petitioner's original
petition for post-conviction relief for failure to prosecute,
and this court affirmed the dismissal. Earl Crawford, Jr.
v. State, No.03C01-9610-CR-00385 (Tenn. Crim. App.,
Knoxville, July 29, 1997), perm. app. denied (Tenn.
Apr. 17, 1998).
petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction
deoxyribonucleic acid ("DNA") testing, the denial
of which was affirmed by this court. Earl David Crawford
v. State, No. E2002-02334-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App.,
Knoxville, Aug. 4, 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn.
Dec. 22, 2003). The petitioner next sought habeas corpus
relief, which was denied by the habeas corpus court, and this
court affirmed the denial by memorandum opinion pursuant to
Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Earl David Crawford v. Ricky Bell, Warden, No.
M2004-02440-CCA-R3-HC (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, Feb. 15,
2005), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 27, 2005). The
petitioner then filed a second petition for writ of habeas
corpus, in which he alleged that his convictions were void
due to the trial court's erroneous consideration of the
petitioner's status as a parolee to enhance his sentence.
The petition was summarily dismissed by the habeas corpus
court, and this court again affirmed the dismissal, stating
that it was "unable to ascertain any illegality in the
sentencing procedure of the trial court" and that, in
any event, "a challege to the misapplication of an
enhancement factor is not a proper subject for habeas corpus
relief." Earl David Crawford v. James Holloway,
Warden, No. W2014-02500-CCA-R3-HC, slip op. at 4 (Tenn.
Crim. App., Jackson, June 26, 2015).
December 15, 2016, the petitioner filed a "Petition for
Relief from Sentence." The post-conviction court
summarily dismissed the petition, deeming it time barred,
duplicative, and without a legal basis for reopening the
prior post-conviction petition. In dismissing the petition,
the post-conviction court stated as follows:
Having taken judicial notice of [the p]etitioner's
prodigious history over the past thirty years, it strikes the
[c]ourt that the [p]etitioner has availed himself of every
conceivable legal avenue to avoid serving the balance of his
sentence for his crimes. It is also true that [the
p]etitioner's arguments in the present [p]etition have
been repackaged and are stale. [The p]etitioner's issues
at bar have been considered and reconsidered more than once,
and considerable judicial resources have been expended in
these matters. The [p]etitioner's personal beliefs
notwithstanding, the law does not entitle him to
appeal, the petitioner challenges the summary dismissal of
his 2016 petition, asserting the illegality of his sentence
and the post-conviction court's failure to appoint
counsel. The State responds that the petition was untimely
filed and that the legality of the petitioner's sentence
has been fully addressed and determined in prior proceedings.
person in custody . . . must petition for post-conviction
relief . . . within one (1) year of the date of the final
action of the highest state appellate court to which an
appeal is taken." T.C.A. § 40-30-102(a). "If
it plainly appears from the face of the petition, . . . that
the petition was not filed . . . within the time set forth in
the statute of limitations, . . . the judge shall enter an
order dismissing the petition. The order shall state the
reason for the dismissal and the facts requiring
dismissal." Id. § 40-30-106(b). The
statute of limitations for filing a post-conviction petition
is jurisdictional. See id. § 40-30-102(b)
("No court shall have jurisdiction to consider a
petition filed after the expiration of the limitations period
unless [certain statutory prerequisites are met]."). Our
supreme court has held that "the one-year statutory
period is an element of the right to file a post-conviction
petition and that it is not an affirmative defense that must
be asserted by the State." State v. Nix, 40
S.W.3d 459, 464 (Tenn. 2001). Thus, "it is incumbent
upon a petitioner to include allegations of fact in the