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Suggs v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 28, 2019


          Assigned on Briefs April 16, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 99-B-1054 Angelita Blackshear Dalton, Judge

         The 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.[1] After review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

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

          Joseph 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 Tennessee.

          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.



         The 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).

         On 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 without merit.
Accordingly, this Court finds that the Petitioner has failed to state an actionable claim on ...

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