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Sims v. Hobbs

Supreme Court of Arkansas

December 4, 2014

WALTER J. SIMS, JR., APPELLANT
v.
RAY HOBBS, DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, APPELLEE

Page 204

LEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO. 39CV-14-1. HONORABLE RICHARD L. PROCTOR, JUDGE.

Walter J. Sims, Jr., Pro se appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

JACK HOLT JR.

PRO SE MOTIONS FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL AND FOR LEAVE TO FILE A BELATED REPLY BRIEF

Page 205

PER CURIAM

On January 3, 2014, appellant Walter J. Sims, Jr., who is incarcerated in Lee County, Arkansas, filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Lee County Circuit Court.[1] The circuit court denied the petition, and appellant lodged an appeal in this court. Now before us is appellant's motions for appointment of counsel and for leave to file a belated reply brief.

We do not reach the merits of the motions and dismiss the appeal because it is clear from the record that appellant did not allege a basis on which the circuit court could properly grant a writ of habeas corpus. Accordingly, appellant could not prevail on appeal. An appeal of the denial of postconviction relief, including an appeal from an order that denied a petition for writ of habeas corpus, will not be permitted to go forward where the appeal is without merit. Chance v. Hobbs, 2014 Ark. 400, 441 S.W.3d 897 (per curiam).

A writ of habeas corpus is proper when a judgment of conviction is invalid on its face or when a trial court lacked jurisdiction over the cause. Glaze v. Hobbs, 2013 Ark. 458 (per curiam); Davis v. Reed, 316 Ark. 575, 873 S.W.2d 524 (1994). The burden is on the petitioner in a habeas-corpus petition to establish that the trial court lacked jurisdiction or that the judgment-and-commitment order was invalid on its face; otherwise, there is no basis for a finding that a writ of habeas corpus should issue. Young v. Norris, 365 Ark. 219, 226 S.W.3d 797 (2006) (per curiam). The petitioner must plead either the facial invalidity or the lack of jurisdiction and make a " showing by affidavit or other evidence [of] probable cause to believe" that he is illegally detained. Id. at 221, 226 S.W.3d at 798.

In his habeas petition, appellant argued that the writ should issue on grounds pertaining to his criminal conviction.[2] He contended that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the judgment of conviction; the prosecutor at trial committed misconduct; he was denied his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to a fair, impartial, just, and unbiased trial before an impartial and unbiased judge; and he was denied effective assistance of counsel.

None of the claims called into question the trial court's jurisdiction or the facial validity of the judgment. Jurisdiction is the power of the court to hear and determine the subject matter in controversy. Bliss v. Hobbs, 2012 Ark. 315 (per curiam). There was no claim to demonstrate that the trial court in his case did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to hear and determine cases involving violations of criminal statutes or to establish that the judgment-and-commitment order entered in the case was facially invalid.

Claims of mere trial error, such as those raised by appellant in his habeas petition, are properly settled in the trial court and do not implicate the facial ...


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