Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs April 16, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Trousdale County No. 2018-CV-4714
John D. Wootten, Jr., Judge
petitioner, Michael White, appeals the summary dismissal of
his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which petition
challenged his 2005 Marshall County Circuit Court jury
convictions of rape. Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed
Michael White, Hartsville, Tennessee, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; and
Garrett D. Ward, 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 Camille R. McMullen, JJ.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE
Marshall County Circuit Court jury convicted the defendant of
multiple counts of rape and imposed a total effective
sentence of 55 years' incarceration. This court affirmed
the convictions and accompanying sentences on direct appeal.
See State v. Michael White, No.
M2005-01659-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, July 13,
2006). The defendant later made unsuccessful bids for
post-conviction relief, see Michael White v. State,
M2007-02157-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, Sept. 8,
2008) (affirming denial of post-conviction relief), and Rule
36.1 relief, see Michael White v. State,
M2017-02039-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, July 23,
2018) (affirming denial of relief).
August 8, 2018, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of
habeas corpus, claiming that he was being illegally
restrained of his liberty "based upon an indictment that
[p]etitioner was never arraigned on or advised that he would
be tried on." Essentially, the petitioner claimed that
he was tried on a superseding indictment. The State moved the
trial court to summarily dismiss the petition, asserting
that, even if true, the petitioner's lack of awareness
did not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction. The trial
court found the State's motion well taken and dismissed
the petition on September 17, 2018.
timely appeal, the petitioner challenges the summary
dismissal of his petition, reiterating his argument that his
lack of awareness of the superseding indictment entitles him
to habeas corpus relief. The State contends that the habeas
corpus court did not err by dismissing the petition.
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).
documents attached to the petition for writ of habeas corpus
belie the petitioner's claim that he only recently became
aware of both the superseding indictment and the fact that he
was convicted of the charges contained in that indictment.
All the judgments of conviction and transcripts of evidence
bear the superseding indictment number, and the direct appeal
proceeded on that docket number. This court evaluated the
propriety of the petitioner's convictions based upon the
offenses charged in the superseding indictment. The exhibits
to the petition show that the State utilized that docket
number at the sentencing hearing. Moreover, as the State
points out, the superseding indictment is valid on its face,
and the petitioner does not contend otherwise. The ...