Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
JOSE A. RIVAS
RANDY LEE, WARDEN
Assigned on Briefs January 24, 2018
from the Criminal Court for Johnson County No. CC-17-CR-57
Lisa N. Rice, Judge
petitioner, Jose A. Rivas, appeals the summary dismissal of
his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which challenged his
2005 Hancock County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions
of facilitation of first degree murder. Discerning no error,
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed
A. Rivas, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; and
Benjamin A. Ball, 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
petitioner, originally charged with six counts of first
degree felony murder, pleaded guilty as a career offender on
September 16, 2005, to two counts of facilitation of first
degree murder in exchange for concurrent 60-year sentences.
It appears that the petitioner neither perfected a direct
appeal nor sought post-conviction relief. On May 22, 2015,
the petitioner filed his first petition for writ of habeas
corpus, alleging that the trial court lacked jurisdiction
because his crimes were committed in Hancock County but his
guilty pleas were entered in Greene County. The habeas corpus
court summarily dismissed the petition, concluding that the
petitioner had waived venue upon entry of his guilty pleas,
thus vesting the trial court with jurisdiction to convict
him, and that accordingly the petitioner had failed to state
a cognizable ground for habeas corpus relief. This court
affirmed the dismissal on appeal. See Jose A. Rivas v.
Gerald McAllister, Warden, No. E2015-01506-CCA-R3-HC,
slip op. at 1 (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, Mar. 4, 2016),
perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 23, 2016).
9, 2017, the petitioner again sought habeas corpus relief in
a nearly identical petition in which he once again challenged
the jurisdiction of the trial court. The habeas corpus court
again summarily dismissed the petition.
appeal, the petitioner reiterates his claim that the trial
court lacked jurisdiction. The State responds that the habeas
corpus court's dismissal was appropriate because the
petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas
determination of whether habeas corpus relief should be
granted is a question of law." Faulkner v.
State, 226 S.W.3d 358, 361 (Tenn. 2007) (citing Hart
v. State, 21 S.W.3d 901, 903 (Tenn. 2000)). Our review
of the habeas corpus court's decision is, therefore,
"de novo with no presumption of correctness afforded to
the [habeas corpus] court." Id. (citing
Killingsworth v. Ted Russell Ford, Inc., 205 S.W.3d
406, 408 (Tenn. 2006)). The writ of habeas corpus is
constitutionally guaranteed, see U.S. Const. art. 1,
§ 9, cl. 2; Tenn. Const. art. I, § 15, but has been
regulated by statute for more than a century, see Ussery
v. Avery, 432 S.W.2d 656, 657 (Tenn. 1968). Tennessee
Code Annotated section 29-21-101 provides that "[a]ny
person imprisoned or restrained of liberty, under any
pretense whatsoever, except in cases specified in §
29-21-102, may prosecute a writ of habeas corpus, to inquire
into the cause of such imprisonment and restraint."
T.C.A. § 29-21-101. Despite the broad wording of the
statute, a writ of habeas corpus may be granted only when the
petitioner has established a lack of jurisdiction for the
order of confinement or that he is otherwise entitled to
immediate release because of the expiration of his sentence.
See Ussery, 432 S.W.2d at 658; State v.
Galloway, 45 Tenn. (5 Cold.) 326 (1868). The purpose of
the state habeas corpus petition is to contest a void, not
merely a voidable, judgment. State ex rel. Newsom v.
Henderson, 424 S.W.2d 186, 189 (Tenn. 1968). A void
conviction is one which strikes at the jurisdictional
integrity of the trial court. Archer v. State, 851
S.W.2d 157, 164 (Tenn. 1993); see State ex rel. Anglin v.
Mitchell, 575 S.W.2d 284, 287 (Tenn. 1979);
Passarella v. State, 891 S.W.2d 619, 627 (Tenn.
Crim. App. 1994).
view, the petitioner has failed to establish entitlement to
habeas corpus relief. Although the petitioner asserts that he
is raising the trial court's lack of subject matter
jurisdiction for the first time in this petition, a careful
reading of his petition reveals that he has simply repackaged
his prior arguments regarding venue, which arguments were
fully addressed by this court in the petitioner's prior
appeal affirming the habeas corpus court's dismissal.
See Jose A. Rivas, slip op. at 3-4. As we stated in
that appeal, a guilty plea "waives the requirement that
the State prove venue by a preponderance of the
evidence." Ellis v. Carlton, 986 S.W.2d 600,
602 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1987).
crux of the petitioner's argument in this appeal hinges
on the State's alleged failure to comply with Tennessee
Code Annotated section ...