Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs January 24, 2018
from the Criminal Court for Johnson County No. CC-17-CR-127
Lisa N. Rice, Judge
petitioner, James Robert Oliphant, appeals the summary
dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which
challenged his 1983 Washington County Criminal Court
conviction of assault with intent to commit second degree
murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court
Robert Oliphant, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; and
Jeffrey D. Zentner, 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 by the Washington County Grand
Jury in case number 14673 with burglary and assault with
intent to commit first degree murder, was convicted of
assault with intent to commit second degree murder in the
Washington County Criminal Court in 1983 and received a
three-year sentence. The petitioner's trial was
apparently held in Unicoi County, and the judgment form
states that the judgment was entered in the Criminal Court
for Washington County, Tennessee "being held in Unicoi
County, Tennessee." In 1986, the petitioner was
convicted of burglary of a vehicle in case number 15965, for
which he received a sentence of life imprisonment as a
habitual offender. See State v. James Robert
Oliphant, No. 228 (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, Oct. 14,
1987), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 28, 1987).
During the sentencing phase of that trial, the State proved
that the petitioner "had been convicted on one occasion
in Florida for burglary and involuntary sexual battery, on a
second occasion, in Tennessee, for second degree burglary and
receiving stolen property, and [in case number 14673], also
in Tennessee, for assault with intent to commit murder."
Id. The petitioner then unsuccessfully sought
post-conviction relief, in which he asked the court "to
void the 1986 conviction and previous convictions used to
establish habitual criminality, " but his conviction in
case number 14673 was not included in that petition.
Oliphantv. State, 806 S.W.2d 215, 216 (Tenn. Crim.
September 15, 2017, the petitioner filed a petition for writ
of habeas corpus, claiming that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction because his crime was committed and charged in
Washington County but he was convicted in Unicoi County. In
addition, the petitioner argued that his 1983 conviction was
erroneously used to enhance his sentence in case number
15965. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the
petition, concluding that the petitioner had failed to state
a cognizable ground for habeas corpus relief.
appeal, the petitioner reiterates his claim that the trial
court lacked jurisdiction and that his void conviction was
improperly used to enhance his later sentence. The State
responds that the habeas corpus court's dismissal was
appropriate because the petitioner failed to state a
cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief.
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).
obtain release from custody via a habeas corpus proceeding,
the petitioner must establish that he is imprisoned or
restrained of his liberty "as a direct consequence"
of the judgment being challenged. Hickman v. State,
153 S.W.3d 16, 24 (Tenn. 2004). "Use of the challenged
judgment to enhance the sentence imposed on a separate
conviction is not a restraint of liberty sufficient to permit
a habeas corpus challenge to the original conviction long
after the sentence on the original conviction has
expired." Id. at 23.
view, the petitioner has failed to establish entitlement to
habeas corpus relief. His sentence in the challenged
conviction expired over 30 years ago, and its use to enhance
his sentence in case number 15965 was "merely a
collateral consequence" of the judgment at issue.
Id. at 24. Thus, "habeas corpus is not an
appropriate avenue for seeking relief." Id. at
23. Moreover, nothing indicates that the judgment at issue is
facially invalid. The judgment reflects that it was entered
in the Criminal Court for Washington County, Tennessee
"being held in Unicoi County, Tennessee." The
petitioner offers nothing aside from his bald assertion that
he never consented to the change of venue, and "a
petitioner is not entitled to habeas corpus relief unless
that petitioner can show from the ...