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Rayner v. Lee

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

January 6, 2020

FLOYD E. RAYNER, III, Petitioner,
RANDY LEE, Warden, Respondent.



         Petitioner Floyd E. Rayner, III, an inmate at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee, filed a pro se motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. No. 2) in the Eastern District of Tennessee on December 27, 2017. That court granted Petitioner pauper status and directed Respondent Randy Lee to answer or otherwise respond to the petition. (Doc. No. 4.) Respondent thereafter filed his answer and the transcript of relevant state-court proceedings (Doc. Nos. 12, 13.) Petitioner did not file a reply to Respondent's answer.

         Because the state court of conviction lies within the Middle District of Tennessee, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee transferred this case to this Court on October 11, 2018. (Doc. No. 17.)

         This matter is ripe for the Court's review, and the Court has jurisdiction. Respondent does not dispute that the petition is timely. (Doc. No. 13 at 2.) Having reviewed Petitioner's arguments and the underlying record, the Court finds that an evidentiary hearing is not required. As explained below, Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief, and his petition will therefore be denied.


         On January 10, 2001, a Davidson County jury convicted Petitioner of five counts of rape of a child and five counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child less than thirteen years of age. The victim in each count was Petitioner's daughter. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to an effective term of fifty-one years in prison: twenty-one years for each rape of a child conviction, and nine years for each aggravated sexual battery conviction, with two of the rape counts and one of the sexual battery counts to run consecutively, and the remainder to run concurrently. In sentencing Petitioner, the court granted him pretrial jail credit of 317 days, from April 10, 2000 to the sentence imposition date of February 21, 2001. (See Doc. No. 2-5 at 1.)

         Petitioner challenged his convictions and sentences on direct appeal, but the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions and found that the sentencing issues had been waived by Petitioner's failure to include his presentence report in the appellate record. State v. Rayner, No. M2001-00971-CCA-R3-CD, 2002 WL 1336654 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 19, 2002), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 9, 2002).

         Petitioner sought relief in the state post-conviction court, asserting the ineffectiveness of his trial counsel. His claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were denied by the post-conviction trial court, which was affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals on November 6, 2006. Rayner v. State, No. M2005-01672-CCA-R3-PC, 2006 WL 2000701 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 19, 2006), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 6, 2006).

         Petitioner then filed in this Court a timely petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. After appointing counsel for Petitioner and holding an evidentiary hearing, this Court denied the habeas petition on its merits in 2010, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Rayner v. Mills, No. 3:06-1187, 2010 WL 724010 (M.D. Tenn. Mar. 1, 2010), aff'd, 685 F.3d 631 (6th Cir. 2012).

         In 2016, Petitioner instituted a declaratory action under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA), Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-225, against the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) in Davidson County Chancery Court, challenging TDOC's calculation of his criminal sentence and the constitutionality of the statutes under which he was convicted. On December 21, 2016, the Chancery Court dismissed Petitioner's action, finding no merit in his argument that his pretrial jail credits should have included every day of incarceration since his arrest on December 9, 1999, rather than April 10, 2000:

The record reflects that the TDOC properly calculated Mr. Rayner's pretrial jail credit pursuant to the criminal court's judgments, as it is required to do by law. Because Mr. Rayner's sentencing court ordered pretrial jail credit from April 10, 2000 to February 21, 2001, the Court finds that the TDOC properly calculated Mr. Rayner's sentence in accordance with those judgments and that it cannot by law alter his sentence to include pretrial jail credit from December 9, 1999 to April 10, 2000.

(Doc. No. 12-2 at 38.) The Chancery Court further found that TDOC properly calculated Petitioner's sentence expiration, as the two 21-year child rape sentences were ordered to be served consecutively and, by law, are not eligible for reduction by sentence credit or parole; accordingly, before Petitioner begins his 9-year sexual battery sentence--which is his only sentence subject to reduction--he must serve 42 years in prison, day for day. (Id. at 39.) The declaratory action was thus dismissed on grounds that Petitioner “received all sentence credits to which he is entitled, ” and further “that he cannot challenge the constitutionality of the criminal statutes in a UAPA declaratory judgment action.” (Id. at 44.)

         Petitioner filed a timely appeal of the Chancery Court's ruling in the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Chancery Court, finding that “TDOC properly calculated Mr. Rayner's sentence” and that his “constitutional arguments amount to nothing more than [an improper] challenge to his criminal sentence.” Rayner v. Tennessee Dep't of Corr., No. M2017-00223-COA-R3-CV, 2017 WL 2984269, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. July ...

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