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State v. Williams

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 26, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
RICKEY WILLIAMS

          Assigned on Briefs April 3, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 98-03611 Chris Craft, Judge

         The petitioner, Rickey Williams, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his "Ex Parte Injunction and/or Show Cause Order." On appeal, the petitioner contends the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his motion "because his conviction is voidable." The State contends the petitioner's appeal is not properly before this Court and, despite the lack of jurisdiction, the petitioner is not entitled to relief on the merits of his claim. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Rickey Williams, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Karen Cook, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr. and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE

         Factual Background

         A jury convicted the petitioner of murdering Algerine Bougard in her apartment on or about December 1, 1997, for which he received a sentence of life in prison. The petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed his conviction and sentence. See State v. Rickey Williams, No. W1999-01701-CCA-R3-CD, 2001 WL 128557 at *2, (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 15, 2001), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 16, 2001). Subsequently, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel on several grounds and the trial court improperly instructed the jury. The post-conviction court denied the petition for post-conviction relief, and the petitioner appealed. On appeal, this Court affirmed the ruling of the post-conviction court. Williams v. State, No. W2006-00605-CCA-R3-PC, 2007 WL 2120174, at *5 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 24, 2007), no perm. app. filed.

         On September 8, 2017, the petitioner filed a pro se motion for "Ex Parte Injuction (sic) and/or Show Cause Order" claiming, the Tennessee Department of Correction did not have "proper custody over [petitioner]'s person" because the judgments in his case do not contain a "file-stamp" showing when the judgments were entered. That same day, the trial court entered an order summarily dismissing the petitioner's motion. Specifically, the trial court noted the trial judge signed the petitioner's judgment on October 14, 1999, and that the "court jacket reflect[s] that the judgment was filed by the court clerk that date, as would the court minutes for that date." The trial court also concluded that "the lack of a file stamp on the judgment is not jurisdictional." Additionally, though not directly raised by the petitioner as a petition for writ of habeas corpus, the trial court considered his motion as such. In doing so, the trial court held that the petitioner's "conviction appears to be proper from the technical record, and has not expired. Because the petitioner has failed to show that the trial court was without jurisdiction to impose the challenged sentence, or that he is presently held on an expired sentence, he is not entitled to relief." This timely appeal followed.

         Analysis

         On appeal, the petitioner contends the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his motion arguing, his "confinement is voidable since the clerk failed to properly enter his 1997 judgment pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e)." The State contends the petitioner's case is not properly before this Court because there is no appeal as of right from the denial of an "Ex Parte Injunction and/or Show Cause Order." Alternatively, the State argues the petitioner is not entitled to relief on the merits of his claim. Upon our thorough review of the record and the briefs, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

         The State correctly notes the petitioner does not have a right of appeal from the denial of a motion for an "Ex Parte Injunction and/or Show Cause Order." See Tenn. R. App. P. 3(b). However, the trial court also considered the petitioner's motion as a petition for writ of habeas corpus. See Castro v. United States,540 U.S. 375, 381, 124 S.Ct. 786, 157 L.Ed.2d 778 (2003) (allowing re-characterization of pro se litigants motion to place it within a different legal category). Because the trial court treated the motion as such, the petitioner's appeal is properly before this Court, and we will review ...


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