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Todd v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

November 8, 2017

MICHAEL TODD APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE HEMPSTEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 29CR-13-78] HONORABLE DUNCAN CULPEPPER, JUDGE, AFFIRMED

          Michael Todd, pro se appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

         On May 25, 2016, this court affirmed Michael Todd's convictions by a Hempstead County Circuit Court jury for second-degree forgery, breaking or entering, and theft of property, while reversing and dismissing his conviction for commercial burglary. Todd v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 280, 494 S.W.3d 444. Todd's petition for review to the Arkansas Supreme Court was denied, and the mandate was entered on July 21, 2016. On September 15, 2016, Todd petitioned the trial court for relief pursuant to Rule 37 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. His petition was denied, and Todd appeals to this court for review of the lower court's decision. We affirm.

         I. Relevant History

         In Todd's Rule 37 petition he raised several claims: (1) the trial court waived personal jurisdiction for failing to inform Todd of the exact nature of the charges against him prior to arraignment, and the trial court fraudulently brought him into the court's jurisdiction by compelling him to accept a plea of not guilty; (2) the trial court waived in rem jurisdiction because the elected prosecutor failed to provide her signature on the information, and the deputy prosecutor lacked the constitutional authority to sign the information; and (3) Todd's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct an investigation into the information, for failing to move for a directed verdict at the close of the State's case, for failing to subpoena Todd as a witness, and for failing to object to the jury instructions for each count in the amended felony information.

         Without holding a hearing, the trial court denied Todd's petition on October 6, 2016, for the following reasons: (1) that Todd's petition was untimely; (2) that the trial court maintained personal jurisdiction over Todd, and that "in rem" jurisdiction did not apply to a criminal information; (3) the signature of the deputy prosecuting attorney on the criminal information was sufficient; and (4) despite Todd's claim to the contrary, his trial counsel moved for a directed verdict at the close of the State's case in chief and after the defense presented its case. The trial court also stated that "Any claims not addressed in this order are also denied and dismissed with prejudice."

         Todd filed a notice of appeal on October 31, 2016. On appeal, Todd submits a one-page argument in which he contends that the trial court erred in denying his Rule 37 petition. Appellant's argument is rather unclear, but as best we can determine, he has three main points on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in determining that his appeal was untimely; (2) the trial court erred in not making the required findings of fact in its order denying Rule 37 relief; and (3) the trial court erred by not specifically addressing his remaining claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm.

          II. Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         This court does not reverse the denial of postconviction relief unless the trial court's findings are clearly erroneous. Watson v. State, 2014 Ark. 203, at 2-4, 444 S.W.3d 835, 838-39. A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support it, after reviewing the totality of the evidence, we are left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Id.

         III. Issues on Appeal

         A. Timeliness of Appeal

         Todd is correct that his petition was lodged in a timely fashion and that the trial court erred in denying it on the basis of untimeliness. Todd's petition was due on September 19, 2016, and it was file marked by the Hempstead County clerk on September 21, 2016; however, the petition is considered filed on September 15, 2016, which is the date Todd deposited the petition into the prison mailing system. ...


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