Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Johnson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 1, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs May 22, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bledsoe County No. 2016-CR-14 Justin C. Angel, Judge

         The Petitioner, Charles D. Johnson, appeals the habeas corpus court's dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus in which the Petitioner argued that he was never indicted on his convicted offense. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the dismissal of his petition in accordance with Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed Pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals

          Charles D. Johnson, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; and Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.



         In 1998, the Petitioner pleaded guilty to first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery and received consecutive sentences of life and twenty-five years, respectively. The Petitioner has filed two prior petitions for habeas corpus relief. See Charles D. Johnson v. State, No. E2007-02018-CCA-R3-HC, 2008 WL 1875166, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 28, 2008) perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 25, 2008). The Petitioner asserted in his second petition that his first petition was "withdrawn without prejudice" but failed to include a copy of the first petition in the record. Id. at *2. In his second petition, the Petitioner alleged that his convictions were void because the State had failed to produce records, including the indictment, documents related to the pleas, and transcripts of proceedings, to support his judgments. Id. at *1, 3. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition, which was affirmed by this court on appeal. Id. at *3.

         This appeal arises from the Petitioner's third petition for habeas corpus relief, in which he alleges that he was never indicted by a grand jury on the especially aggravated robbery charge. The State filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the Petitioner failed to include his judgments or any other legal process related to his conviction or incarceration, failed to include copies of prior habeas corpus petitions and proceedings, and failed to allege that the trial court was without jurisdiction. The Petitioner responded to the State's motion and amended his petition, alleging that the trial court was without jurisdiction to issue a judgment or sentence since he was never indicted on the especially aggravated robbery charge. He attached uncertified copies of the judgment for the especially aggravated robbery conviction but still did not include his prior habeas corpus petitions. The habeas corpus court granted the State's "well taken" motion and dismissed the petition. The Petitioner timely appealed.


         Article I, section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution provides that "the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in case of rebellion or invasion, the General Assembly shall declare the public safety requires it." Habeas corpus relief may be sought by "[a]ny person imprisoned or restrained of liberty … to inquire into the cause of such imprisonment and restraint." T.C.A. § 29-21-101(a). The right to relief is available "only when 'it appears upon the face of the judgment or the record of the proceedings upon which the judgment is rendered' that a convicting court was without jurisdiction or authority to sentence a defendant, or that a defendant's sentence of imprisonment or other restraint has expired." Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 255 (Tenn. 2007) (quoting Archer v. State, 851 S.W.2d 157, 164 (Tenn. 1993)). We review the grant or denial of habeas corpus relief de novo with no presumption of correctness given to the findings and conclusions of the lower court. Id. at 255.

         While the statutory language "appears broad, in fact, '[h]abeas corpus under Tennessee law has always been, and remains, a very narrow procedure.'" Edwards v. State, 269 S.W.3d 915, 919 (Tenn. 2008) (quoting Archer, 851 S.W.2d at 162). A habeas corpus petition is used to challenge void and not merely voidable judgments. Id. at 255-56. A void judgment "is one in which the judgment is facially invalid because the court lacked jurisdiction or authority to render the judgment." Taylor v. State, 995 S.W.2d 78, 83 (Tenn. 1999); Dykes v. Compton, 978 S.W.2d 528, 529 (Tenn. 1998). A petitioner bears the burden of proving a void judgment or illegal confinement by a preponderance of the evidence. Wyatt v. State, 24 S.W.3d 319, 322 (Tenn. 2000). The habeas corpus court has authority to dismiss a petition when the petition shows the petitioner "would not be entitled to any relief." T.C.A. § 29-21-109. If the petition fails to establish that a judgment is void, the habeas corpus court is not obligated to hold a hearing on the allegations. Hogan v. Mills, 168 S.W.3d 753, 755 (Tenn. 2005).

         Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-21-107 provides the formal requirements for an application or petition for writ of habeas corpus. A petition must state "[t]hat it is first application for the writ, or if a previous application has been made, a copy of the petition and proceedings thereon shall be produced, or satisfactory reasons be given for the failure so to do." T.C.A. § 29-21-107(b)(4). The procedural requirements are mandatory and must be scrupulously followed. Hickman v. State, 153 S.W.3d 16, 21 (Tenn. 2004); Archer, 851 S.W.2d at 165. A petition for relief may be denied by a habeas ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.