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Smith v. Shelby County Sheriff's

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 25, 2018

MICHAEL SMITH
v.
SHELBY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

          Assigned on Briefs May 1, 2017

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-002910-14 Jerry Stokes, Judge

         This appeal involves an incarcerated inmate's filing of a petition for writ of certiorari. The respondent filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the time for filing such a petition had passed. The trial court dismissed the petition as untimely. We affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Michael Smith, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          John Marshall Jones and Megan J. Smith, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shelby County Sheriff's Department.

          John W. McClarty, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S. and Brandon O. Gibson, J., joined.

          OPINION

          JOHN W. McCLARTY, JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Michael Smith ("Petitioner") is an inmate housed at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility in Whiteville, Tennessee. On April 25, 2014, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari by placing the document in the prison mailroom.[1] See Tenn. R. Civ. P. 5.06. The petition, which named the Shelby County Sheriff's Department ("Respondent") as the respondent, requested review of two instances of discipline he received while an inmate at the Shelby County Jail.

         The first incident, Number 719393, resulted in a hearing on December 4, 2013, after which he was adjudged guilty. He appealed to Chief Jailer Moore the same day but did not receive a reply. He then lodged a written request, dated January 22, 2014, to remove the finding of guilt from his file. He received no response. The second incident, Number 728437, resulted in a disciplinary hearing held on February 10, 2014, after which he was adjudged guilty. He appealed within three days of the hearing but did not receive a reply. He alleged that jail policy mandated a ruling within 7 days of the appeal.

         Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, claiming, inter alia, that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the petition was not filed within 60 days of the challenged judgments pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 27-9-102.[2]Respondent claimed that the time for filing an appeal for Number 719393 began to run, at the latest, on January 22, 2014, the date on which Petitioner attempted a second communication concerning his adjudication. Respondent further claimed that the time for filing an appeal for Number 728437 began to run, at the latest, on February 13, 2014, the date on which Petitioner submitted his appeal but received no reply.

         As pertinent to this appeal, Petitioner responded by asserting that Respondent's interpretation of the 60-day filing deadline was incorrect. He claimed that an agency such as Respondent is statutorily entitled to a 60-day period in which to respond to a request pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 4-5-223(c).[3] Accordingly, he asserted that the time for filing an appeal in this action did not start until the expiration of 60 days from the filing of his letter, dated January 22, 2014, for Number 719393 or his appeal on February 13, 2014, for Number 728437. Thereafter, on February 9, 2016, Petitioner submitted a motion to supplement the record to include a copy of the Shelby County Jail Handbook ("the Handbook") for purposes of review of his disciplinary proceedings.

         Meanwhile, Respondent issued an amended motion to dismiss, arguing that the time to seek certiorari review as to Number 719393 and Number 728437 began to run, respectively, on December 11, 2013, and February 20, 2014, the deadline by which Petitioner alleged a response to his appeals was due. Respondent asserted that Section 4-5-223 was inapplicable and did not operate to extend the time for filing his petition for review of Number 719393 because the procedure for challenging a prison disciplinary action is through the common law writ of certiorari, not through the Administrative Procedures Act. Respondent alternatively claimed that even if the court were to ...


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