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Henry v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 27, 2018

RONNIE HENRY
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs Date: January 17, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Wayne County No. 15964 Robert L. Jones, Judge

         Over twelve years ago, Petitioner, Ronnie Henry, was convicted at a jury trial of several counts of robbery involving multiple victims in Shelby County. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the convictions but remanded for resentencing. State v. Ronnie Henry, No. W2006-00344-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 450459, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 19, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 29, 2008). After resentencing, this Court affirmed Petitioner's effective seventy-year sentence. State v. Ronnie Henry, No. W2009-00089-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 3103823, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 28, 2009), no perm. app. filed. Petitioner then unsuccessfully sought post-conviction relief. Ronnie Henry v. State, No. W2014-01786-CCA-R3-PC, 2016 WL 1402951, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 7, 2016), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Sept. 26, 2016). Now, Petitioner challenges the habeas corpus court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

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

          Ronnie Henry, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Alexander C. Vey, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J. and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., joined.

          OPINION

          TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE

          On February 6, 2017, Petitioner filed a petition seeking habeas corpus relief. In the petition, he alleged that he was arrested without a warrant and that the affidavit of complaint was an improper charging instrument. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition finding that Petitioner failed to meet the statutory requirements for the petition. The habeas corpus court noted that Petitioner failed to: (1) "include the indictment relevant to his conviction;" (2) verify the petition by affidavit; and (3) include a statement that it was his first petition for habeas corpus relief. The habeas corpus court also determined that Petitioner was charged on an indictment rather than an affidavit of complaint and, therefore was "convicted pursuant to a valid charging instrument and indicted within the limitations period for the offenses" at issue. The habeas corpus court concluded that Petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim, and dismissed the petition for relief. Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal.

         Analysis

         Petitioner argues on appeal that the habeas corpus court improperly dismissed the petition for relief. Specifically, he complains that he was arrested without a warrant and charged by complaint, rendering any indictment issued invalid. Moreover, Petitioner insists that the statute of limitations expired prior to the commencement of prosecution. The State insists that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition.

         In Tennessee, "[a]ny person imprisoned or restrained of his liberty, under any pretense whatsoever. . . may prosecute a writ of habeas corpus, to inquire into the cause of such imprisonment and restraint." T.C.A. § 29-21-101. While there is no statute of limitations for filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the grounds upon which habeas corpus relief may be granted are narrow. Hickman v. State, 153 S.W.3d 16, 20 (Tenn. 2004). Habeas corpus relief is only available when it appears on the face of the judgment or record that the convicting court was without jurisdiction to convict or sentence the defendant, or that the defendant is still imprisoned despite the expiration of his sentence. Id.; Archer v. State, 851 S.W.2d 157, 164 (Tenn. 1993). In other words, habeas corpus relief may be granted only when the judgment is void, rather than merely voidable. Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 255 (Tenn. 2007). A void judgment is "one that is facially invalid because the court did not have the statutory authority to render such judgment." Id. at 256 (citing Dykes v. Compton, 978 S.W.2d 528, 529 (Tenn. 1998)). A voidable judgment is "one that is facially valid and requires proof beyond the face of the record or judgment to establish its invalidity." Id. The petitioner bears the burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his judgment is void. Wyatt v. State, 24 S.W.3d 319, 322 (Tenn. 2000). Because the issue of whether habeas corpus relief should be granted is a question of law, we conduct a de novo review without any presumption of correctness given to the decision of the lower court. Summers, 212 S.W.3d at 255.

          The requirements for habeas corpus petitions are "mandatory and must be followed scrupulously." Id. at 260; Hickman, 153 S.W.3d at 19-20. A petition must state:

(1) That the person in whose behalf the writ is sought, is illegally restrained of liberty, and the person by whom and place where restrained, mentioning the name of such person, if known, and, if unknown, describing the ...

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