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Reffegee v. Leibach

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 2, 2018

LADARIUS L. REFFEGEE
v.
BLAIR LEIBACH, WARDEN

          Assigned on Briefs December 13, 2017

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Trousdale County No. 2017-CV-4606 John D. Wootten, Jr., Judge

         Pro se Petitioner, Ladarius L. Reffegee, appeals from the Trousdale County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his judgments of conviction and sentences are void because an arrest warrant was not issued prior to his arrest, divesting the court of jurisdiction to sentence and convict him. The State asserts that the Petitioner failed to show that his judgments were void. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

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

          Ladarius Leon Reffegee, Pro Se, Clifton, Tennessee.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE

         Following trial, the Petitioner was convicted by a Davidson County jury of second degree murder and carrying a handgun with the intent to go armed. Ladarius L. Reffegee v. State, No. M2008-02197-CCA-R3-PC, 2009 WL 3400683, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 20, 2009). The Petitioner also pleaded guilty to possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell. Id. The trial court imposed an effective twenty-three-year sentence. Id. This court affirmed his convictions on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied permission to appeal. State v. Ladarius L. Reffegee, No. M2005- 02891-CCA-R3-CD, 2007 WL 1836697 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 27, 2017), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Oct. 15, 2007).

         The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was dismissed by the post-conviction court. Ladarius L. Reffegee, 2009 WL 3400683, at *1. This court affirmed the dismissal, and the Petitioner did not file an application for permission to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Id.

         On March 8, 2017, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Trousdale County Circuit Court challenging the validity of his indictments. He claimed that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the State "failed to obtain an arrest warrant charging him with the offense at the time of the trial[, w]hich rendered the judgment[s] of conviction and . . . sentence[s] fatal void."[1] The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed his petition on May 9, 2017, determining that the "arguments and assertions by the petitioner lack merit." Further, the court held that it could "glean from the record that the defendant was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury[, and] [t]he indictments by the Grand Jury of Davidson County cured any defects, if any existed, with regard to an affidavit of complaint and a warrant." The Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal on June 5, 2017. In the notice of appeal, he asserted that the habeas corpus court "denied his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Relief, without providing him with an evidentiary hearing to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Nashville, Tennessee."

         ANALYSIS

         On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his judgments of conviction and sentences are void because a valid arrest warrant was not issued prior to his arrest on July 15, 2004, causing the statute of limitations on his prosecution to expire and divesting the court of jurisdiction to sentence him. He appears to argue that the affidavit of complaint issued after his arrest did not constitute a charging instrument, was void ab initio, and that the failure to have an arrest warrant at the time of arrest could not be cured by subsequent indictments. The Petitioner also appears to contend that the arrest warrant was the only method by which prosecution could commence and that the indictments issued three months later did not initiate prosecution. Specifically, the Petitioner asserts that the State's method of commencing prosecution using an affidavit of complaint, but no arrest warrant, violated "Tenn. R. Crim. P. 4(c)(1), Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-6-201, and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution." The State responds that the habeas corpus court properly determined that the Petitioner's indictments cured any alleged defects in the arrest warrant, giving the trial court jurisdiction to impose the convictions. After review, we agree with the State.

         "The 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)). Accordingly, our review is de novo without a presumption of correctness. Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 255 ...


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