Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs August 27, 2019
from the Criminal Court for Morgan County No. 2018-CR-87
Jeffery Hill Wicks, Judge
7, 2017, the Petitioner entered a guilty plea, pursuant to
Hicks v. State, 945 S.W.2d 706 (Tenn. 1997), to
possession with intent to sell a Schedule I controlled
substance. In exchange for his plea, the Petitioner received
a 10-year sentence to be served as a multiple offender in the
Tennessee Department of Correction. The judgment of
conviction shows that this 10-year sentence is to be served
consecutively to one case from 2012 and two cases from 2013.
Handwritten in the pre-trial jail credit section is, "NO
J/C." On October 9, 2018, the Petitioner filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he did
not receive 406 days of pre-trial jail credit. Based on the
Petitioner's failure to comply with the procedural
requirements for habeas corpus relief and his failure to
state a cognizable claim for relief, the State moved to
dismiss the petition, and the habeas corpus court agreed. In
this appeal, the Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus
court erred in dismissing his petition for writ of habeas
corpus. Following our review, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Dontell Dewayne Sawyer, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Russell
Johnson, District Attorney General; and D. Paul DeWitt,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State
Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Timothy L. Easter, and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE
Petitioner contends that the trial court failed to award him
pre-trial jail credit, making his sentence illegal. He argues
that he presented a colorable claim for relief from an
illegal sentence, and, as such, that this Court should
construe his petition as a Rule 36.1 motion to correct an
illegal sentence. The State responds that the habeas corpus
court properly dismissed the petition when the Petitioner
failed to comply with the procedural requirements of the
habeas corpus statutes and failed to state a cognizable claim
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)). Accordingly,
our review is de novo without a presumption of correctness.
Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 255 (Tenn. 2007)
(citing State v. Livingston, 197 S.W.3d 710, 712
prisoner is guaranteed the right to habeas corpus relief
under Article I, section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution.
Tenn. Const. art. I, § 15; see Tenn. Code Ann.
§§ 29-21-101 to -130. The grounds upon which a writ
of habeas corpus may be issued, however, are very narrow.
Taylor v. State, 995 S.W.2d 78, 83 (Tenn. 1999).
"Habeas corpus relief is available in Tennessee 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." Archer v. State, 851 S.W.2d 157,
164 (Tenn. 1993) (quoting State v. Galloway, 45
Tenn. (5 Cold.) 326, 337 (1868)). A habeas corpus petition
challenges void and not merely voidable judgments.
Summers, 212 S.W.3d at 255 (citing Potts v.
State, 833 S.W.2d 60, 62 (Tenn. 1992)). "A void
judgment is one in which the judgment is facially invalid
because the court lacked jurisdiction or authority to render
the judgment or because the defendant's sentence has
expired." Taylor, 995 S.W.2d at 83 (citing
Dykes v. Compton, 978 S.W.2d 528, 529 (Tenn. 1998);
Archer, 851 S.W.2d at 161-64). However, a voidable
judgment "is facially valid and requires proof beyond
the face of the record or judgment to establish its
invalidity." Summers, 212 S.W.3d at 256 (citing
Dykes, 978 S.W.2d at 529; Archer, 851
S.W.2d at 161-64). Thus, "[i]n all cases where a
petitioner must introduce proof beyond the record to
establish the invalidity of his conviction, then that
conviction by definition is merely voidable, and a Tennessee
court cannot issue the writ of habeas corpus under such
circumstances." State v. Ritchie, 20 S.W.3d
624, 633 (Tenn. 2000). Moreover, it is the petitioner's
burden to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence,
that the judgment is void or that the confinement is illegal.
Wyatt v. State, 24 S.W.3d 319, 322 (Tenn. 2000). If
this burden is met, the Petitioner is entitled to immediate
release. State v. Warren, 740 S.W.2d 427, 428 (Tenn.
Crim. App. 1986) (citing Ussery v. Avery, 432 S.W.2d
656, 658 (Tenn. 1968)).
habeas corpus court determines from the petitioner's
filings that no cognizable claim has been stated and that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief, the petition for writ
of habeas corpus may be summarily dismissed. See Hickman
v. State, 153 S.W.3d 16, 20 (Tenn. 2004). Further, the
habeas corpus court may summarily dismiss the petition
without the appointment of a lawyer and without an
evidentiary hearing if there is nothing on the face of the
judgment to indicate that the convictions are void.
Summers, 212 S.W.3d at 261; Hickman, 153
S.W.3d at 20. "The petitioner bears the burden of
providing an adequate record for summary review of the habeas
corpus petition, including consideration of whether counsel
should be appointed." Summers, 212 S.W.3d at
the procedural requirements for habeas corpus relief are
mandatory and must be scrupulously followed.
Summers, 212 S.W.3d at 259. Tennessee Code Annotated
section 29-21-107(a) provides that the petition for writ of
habeas corpus must be signed and verified by affidavit. In
addition, the statute requires that the petition state:
(1) That the person in whose behalf the writ is sought, is
illegally restrained of liberty, and the person by whom and
place where restrained, mentioning the name of such person,
if known, and, if unknown, describing the ...