United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David Frazier, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, has filed
a federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
challenging his expired Tennessee judgments of conviction for
two counts of felony evading arrest. Having considered the
submissions of the parties, the State-court record, and the
law applicable to Petitioner's claims, the Court finds
that the petition should be denied.
19, 2004, Petitioner pleaded guilty to two counts of felony
evading arrest in the Polk County Criminal Court and was
sentenced to concurrent two-year sentences, which were
suspended to probation [Doc. 17-1 p. 18-19; Doc. 17-18]. In
September 2013, Petitioner, by that time a federal inmate,
challenged his State-court judgments by filing a pro se
motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee
Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 [Doc. 17-1 p. 13-16]. In a
supplemental motion, Petitioner alleged that the concurrent
alignment of his sentences was illegally lenient, as a
statute mandated consecutive alignment because Petitioner was
released on bail when he committed the offenses [Id.
at 25-28]. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion
[Id. at 35].
appeal, the State conceded that the trial court erred in
summarily dismissing the motion without holding an
evidentiary hearing [Doc. 17-3]. The Tennessee Court of
Criminal Appeals (“TCCA”) reversed the summary
dismissal and remanded to the trial court for further
proceedings. See Frazier v. State, No.
E2013-02563-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 2743243 (Tenn. Crim. App. June
remand, the trial court held a hearing and attempted to
correct the illegal nature of Petitioner's sentences by
entering corrected judgments for consecutive one-year
sentences [Doc. 17-9, p. 8-9]. On April 27, 2015, Petitioner
filed another motion to correct an illegal sentence, alleging
that the trial court did not comply with the prior appellate
opinion [Doc. 17-6 p. 4-6]. In light of that motion,
the trial court agreed with Petitioner and vacated the
corrected judgments as void [Id. at 19]. The trial
court then held another hearing to resolve the pending motion
[Doc. 17-7]. After that hearing, the trial court entered an
order dismissing the motion to correct an illegal sentence
because the sentences had already expired [Doc. 17-6 p.
appeal from the remand, the TCCA affirmed the dismissal of
the motion to correct an illegal sentence due to the
expiration of the sentences. See State v. Frazier,
No. E2016-0006-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 2782202 (Tenn. Crim. App.
June 27, 2017). The State court based its decision on a
change in intervening State law subsequent to its prior
opinion remanding the case. Id. at *2 (citing
State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200, 210 (Tenn. 2015)).
The Tennessee Supreme Court denied discretionary review [Doc.
7, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant petition in the United
States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee,
raising various claims based on the State court's
adjudication of his motion to correct an illegal sentence
[Doc. 1]. The Western District transferred the petition to
this Court on November 6, 2018 [Doc. 8]. This Court
subsequently ordered Respondent to file a response to the
petition, and Respondent complied by filing an answer on June
26, 2019, asserting that the petition fails to meet the
statutory custody and statute of limitation requirements, and
that it otherwise fails to present a cognizable basis for
federal habeas review [Doc. 18]. The Court agrees.
“In Custody” Requirement
federal court may entertain a habeas corpus petition
“in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in
custody by violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Where
a petitioner's sentences have fully expired at the time
the petition is filed, he is no longer “in
custody” as required by the statute. See Carafas v.
LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234, 238 (1968); see also
Lackawanna Cty. Dist. Attorney v. Cross, 532 U.S. 394,
401 (2001) (citing Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 493
(1989)). Moreover, a conviction used to enhance a subsequent
criminal sentence may not generally be used to
“challenge the enhanced sentence through a petition
under § 2254 on the ground that the prior conviction was
unconstitutionally obtained.” Cross, 532 U.S.
at 403-04; Daniels v. United States, 532 U.S. 374,
382 (2001). Therefore, the fact that these State-court
judgments might have been used to enhance Petitioner's
federal sentence is not of consequence in these proceedings.
Petitioner challenges judgments that were entered on July 19,
2004 [Doc. 17-1 p. 18-19]. Due to four different probation
revocations, Petitioner's total effective sentence of two
years was served in 2007 [Doc. 17-6 p. 42-45]. Petitioner is
no longer in custody under the State judgments challenged
here, and therefore, he fails to satisfy the “in
custody” requirement of 28 U.S.C. §
habeas corpus petition challenging a prisoner's
confinement under a State-court judgment must typically be
filed within one year of the date on which the judgment
“became final by the conclusion of direct review or the
expiration of the time for seeking such review.” 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Once the one-year limitation
period commences, the pendency of a “properly filed
application for State post-conviction or other collateral