FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72CR-99-1853]
HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE
L. Leach, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Amanda Jegley, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
2000, appellant Howard Lee Leach entered a plea of guilty in
the Washington County Circuit Court to violating the terms of
his suspended sentences for seven counts of first-degree
forgery in case nos. 72CR-96-1752 and 72CR-97-973. He also
entered a plea of guilty to one count of first-degree sexual
abuse in case no. 72CR-99-1853. An aggregate sentence for the
eight offenses of 420 months' imprisonment was imposed.
2016, Leach filed in the trial court in case no. 72CR-99-1853
two pro se pleadings and a letter that he entitled a
"Statement to the Court." The first pleading was a
petition to correct an illegal sentence under Arkansas Code
Annotated section 16-90-111 (Repl. 2016). The second was a
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Arkansas Code
Annotated sections 16-112-101 to -123 (Repl. 2006), seeking
release from custody. On November 7, 2016, the trial court
entered an order in which it denied the relief sought in the
two pleadings and in the letter. Leach brings this appeal.
respect to the habeas petition, the trial court correctly
held that the petition was not properly addressed to the
trial court. At the time that Leach filed the habeas petition
in Washington County, he was incarcerated at a unit of the
Arkansas Department of Correction located in Jackson County.
Accordingly, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to
have the writ, if issued, returned to it. Malone v.
State, 2016 Ark. 379, at 6, 501 S.W.3d 807, 811 (per
curiam); Johnson v. McClure, 228 Ark. 1081, 312
S.W.2d 347, 349 (1958) (holding a court cannot issue and make
returnable to it a writ of habeas corpus if the petitioner is
outside the court's authority).
petition for writ of habeas corpus to effect the release of a
prisoner is properly addressed to the circuit court in the
county in which the prisoner is held in custody if the
prisoner is incarcerated within the State of Arkansas.
Grissom v. State, 2017 Ark. 24, at 2, 508 S.W.3d
881, 882 (per curiam). However, if the petition for the writ
is filed pursuant to Act 1780 of 2001 Acts of Arkansas,
codified at Arkansas Code Annotated sections 16-112-201 to
-208 (Repl. 2006), it is properly addressed to the court
where the conviction was entered under section 16-112-201(a).
Williams v. State, 2015 Ark. 448 at 2, 476 S.W.3d
154, 155 (per curiam). Leach did not invoke the Act.
Accordingly, the trial court did not err in declining to
issue a writ of habeas corpus.
trial court also did not err in denying relief under section
16-90-111. In his petition, Leach alleged the following: he
was not afforded effective assistance of counsel when he
entered his plea; there was an agreement between his counsel
and the State that he would only be required to serve six
months' imprisonment; he was subjected to double
jeopardy; the evidence was insufficient to support a
conviction for sexual assault or to support revocation of the
suspended sentences for forgery.
is a provision in section 16-90-111 that allows the trial
court to correct an illegal sentence at any time because a
claim that a sentence is illegal presents an issue of
subject-matter jurisdiction. Williams v. State, 2016
Ark. 16, 479 S.W.3d 544 (per curiam). While the time
limitations on filing a petition under section 16-90-111 on
the grounds that the sentence was imposed in an illegal
manner were superseded by Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure
37.2(c) (2016), the portion of section 16-90-111 that
provides a means to challenge a sentence at any time on the
ground that the sentence is illegal on its face remains in
effect. Halfacre v. State, 2015 Ark. 105, 460 S.W.3d
282 (per curiam). For that reason, the trial court had
authority to grant relief under the statute if the sentence
imposed on Leach was indeed illegal on its face. Henry v.
State, 2017 Ark. 28, at 2, 509 S.W.3d 630, 631 (per
the standard of appellate review for a trial court's
factual findings on which a decision to deny relief under
section 16-90-111 is based, we do not reverse unless the
decision is clearly erroneous. Id. at 3, 509 S.W.3d
at 632. 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. Atkins
v. State, 2014 Ark. 393, 441 S.W.3d 19 (per curiam).
sentence is illegal on its face when it exceeds the statutory
maximum for the offense for which the defendant was
convicted. Green v. State, 2016 Ark. 386, at 6, 502
S.W.3d 524, 528. The petitioner seeking relief under section
16-90-111 carries the burden to demonstrate that his sentence
was illegal. Williams, 2016 Ark. 16, 479 S.W.3d 544.
stated above, Leach was entitled to relief under section
16-90-111 only if he established that the judgment in his
case was illegal on its face. Allegations of ineffective
assistance of counsel are not sufficient to demonstrate that
a judgment is facially illegal; as a result, such claims are
not cognizable as a ground for relief. Murphy v.
State, 2013 Ark. 243, at 4 (per curiam).
Ineffective-assistance claims are properly raised in a timely
filed petition pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Criminal
Procedure 37.l. See Hickman v. State, 2012 Ark. 359
Leach's assertion that the evidence was insufficient to
sustain the judgment of conviction for first-degree sexual
abuse and to support revocation of his suspended sentences
for forgery was not cognizable under the statute to show that
the judgment is illegal on its face. Section 16-90-111 does
not provide a means to attack a sentence on the grounds of
whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the judgment.
McClanton v. State, 2014 Ark. 439, at 4, 445 S.W.3d
516, 518 (per curiam). The sufficiency of the evidence was a
matter to be argued in the trial court, and by pleading
guilty, Leach waived ...