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Griffis v. Hobbs

Supreme Court of Arkansas

March 19, 2015




Michael S. Griffis, Pro se, appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.


Page 704


In 2014, appellant Michael S. Griffis filed in the circuit court in the county where he was incarcerated a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus.[1] The petition was dismissed, and appellant brings this appeal.

A circuit court's denial of habeas relief will not be reversed unless the court's findings are clearly erroneous. Gardner v. Hobbs, 2014 Ark. 346,

Page 705

439 S.W.3d 663 (per curiam). A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support it, the appellate court, after reviewing the entire evidence, is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Bryant v. Hobbs, 2014 Ark. 287 (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. Tucker v. Hobbs, 2014 Ark. 449 (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 2005, appellant entered pleas of guilty or nolo contendere to six counts of attempted capital murder and one count of arson. In the petition for writ of habeas corpus, appellant contended that the trial court lacked jurisdiction in his case and that the judgment was illegal on the following grounds: (1) the convictions were based on an illegal and invalid arrest warrant; (2) the arrest warrant in the case was signed by the prosecuting attorney who had formerly been a public defender and had represented appellant at one time; (3) the information contained in the arrest-warrant affidavit was perjured and inaccurate; (4) the three eyewitnesses knew him and should have been able to give a more definitive description of him than that contained in the affidavit; (5) the three eyewitnesses were coerced and threatened by police after they ran afoul of the law themselves; (6) the officer who testified about the arrest provided hearsay, not facts, constituting probable cause for the arrest; (7) appellant was held after his arrest for six hours without benefit of counsel after refusing to waive his right to remain silent; (8) appellant filed numerous complaints with the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission about the trial court's conflict of interest and failure to recuse based on the court's having presiding in a divorce proceeding involving him and his wife, who was a victim in the criminal matter; (9) the trial court was biased; (10) the trial court held a hearing without appellant's presence when his fourth attorney was relieved as counsel; (11) the representation provided by his fourth attorney, who was relieved as his counsel and later convicted of a crime, was " substantially diluted" ; (12) appellant filed a formal complaint with the Office of Professional Conduct against his attorney and three prosecutors concerning the hearing that was held without him; (13) a prosecutor had possession of appellant's illegally seized briefcase; (14) appellant was held for thirty-three months before trial, frequently without benefit of counsel and in an inadequate detention facility; (15) appellant's plea was involuntary and should not have been accepted by the court; (16) the face of the judgment lists his offense as " capital murder" when he was charged with " attempted capital murder." Appellant repeats the allegations as issues on appeal.

First, the face of the judgment entered reflects that appellant was convicted of six counts of attempted capital murder, and appellant does not contend that he is incarcerated for capital murder. As to the remaining allegations ...

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