Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
JOSEPH E. SUGGS
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs April 16, 2019
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 99-B-1054
Angelita Blackshear Dalton, Judge
Petitioner, Joseph E. Suggs, acting pro se, appeals from the
summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus
by the Davidson County Criminal Court, claiming his judgments
of conviction for rape of a child are void because they lack
the required file-stamp. After review, we affirm the judgment of
the habeas corpus court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Edward Suggs, III, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; and Glenn
Funk, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of
Camille R. MCMULLEN, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., joined. James Curwood
Witt, Jr., J., concurred in results only.
CAMILLE R. MCMULLEN, JUDGE.
record shows that on May 14, 1999, the Petitioner was
indicted by a Davidson County Grand Jury for nine counts of
aggravated sexual battery and five counts of rape of a child.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, on November 10, 1999, he
entered guilty pleas to three counts of rape of a child
(counts 8, 10, and 11) in exchange for dismissal of the
remaining charges. The trial court later imposed consecutive
terms of twenty-five years for each count, for an effective
sentence of seventy-five years' imprisonment. The
judgments of conviction were signed by all parties and show
an entry date of December 17, 1999. The Petitioner appealed
the trial court's imposition of consecutive sentencing,
which was affirmed by this court. State v. Joseph E.
Suggs, No. M1999-02136-CCA-R3-CD, 2000 WL 1521481, at *1
(Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 4, 2000), perm. app. denied
(Tenn. Apr. 24, 2001). The Petitioner then filed a petition
for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance
of counsel and that his guilty pleas were unknowingly and
involuntarily entered. This court affirmed the trial
court's denial of post-conviction relief. Joseph
Edward Suggs, III v. State, No. M2006-00485-CCA-R3-PC,
2007 WL 1774291, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 20, 2007).
April 6, 2018, the Petitioner filed a twenty-page memorandum,
entitled "Application For Writ Of Habeas Corpus And/Or
Motion For Corrected Judgment And/Or Motion For Equitable
Relief To Receive Jail Credit." The sole complaint
within his filing was that his judgments of conviction were
not final because the forms did not contain a "duly
authenticated 'file stamp' date by the clerk" in
compliance with Rule 32(e) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal
Procedure. The Petitioner argued that he was therefore
entitled to jail credits for the time he had served
incarcerated "prior to the imposition of sentence"
because his convictions were never properly entered by the
clerk. On May 17, 2018, the habeas corpus court issued a
written order dismissing the Petitioner's application,
reasoning as follows:
The Petitioner argues he is entitled to relief due to what he
claims is a defect on the judgments for their failure to be
file-stamped. After review of the Petitioner's motion and
the case law surrounding this issue, the Court finds the
Petitioner's claim is without merit. The Court notes that
as a criminal matter, the applicable set of rules
establishing the procedures of this case are the Tennessee
Rules of Criminal Procedure. Pursuant to Rule 32(e) of the
Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, a judgment of
conviction must be "signed by the judge and entered by
the clerk," and must contain the plea, the verdict, and
adjudication and sentence. Tenn. R. Crim. App. 32(e). The
Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has held that even if
Rule 32(e) requires that the judgment be file stamped,
failure to do so does not require that the conviction be set
aside. See State v. [Gary] Carr, [No.]
W2016-01525-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL  2493687, at [*]2 (Tenn.
Crim. App. June [9, ] 2017).
In the matter at hand, the Court finds that the Petitioner is
not entitled to relief. The judgment form contains the
information required by Rule 32(e) and the signatures of this
Court and counsel for the State. Further, the date of entry
of judgment, though not file stamped, is listed by hand on
the form as 12/17/99. At most, the lack of a file stamp
amounts to a clerical error and does not entitle the
Petitioner to the relief sought.
The final issue raised on the petition is that the trial
court failed to properly apply jail credit. Court records
indicate that the Petitioner was in the custody of the
Davidson County Sheriff's Office prior to the imposition
of sentence from February 12, 1999 to the date that the plea
was entered on December 17, 1999. The judgment in this matter
reflects that jail credit was applied for the above listed
timeframe. Therefore, this Court finds that this claim is
Accordingly, this Court finds that the Petitioner has failed
to state an actionable claim on ...