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Anderson v. Kelley

Supreme Court of Arkansas

January 17, 2019

MICHAEL LEE ANDERSON APPELLANT
v.
WENDY KELLEY, DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION APPELLEE

          PRO SE APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTH DIVISION [NO. 35CV-18-86] HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE

          Michael Lee Anderson, pro se appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Pamela Rumpz, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE.

         Appellant Michael Lee Anderson appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Anderson argues on appeal, as he did in his petition, that he is being illegally detained because he was not personally charged in an original felony information; instead, his name was added to an amendment to the felony information that originally charged only his brother Myron with the offenses of which Anderson was later convicted. We find no error and affirm the order.

         I. Background

         In 2007, Anderson, who was tried jointly with Myron, was found guilty of five counts of committing a terroristic act and one count of possession of a firearm by certain persons. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of 1320 months' imprisonment. The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed. Anderson v. State, 2010 Ark.App. 177. On January 24, 2018, Anderson filed in the Jefferson County Circuit Court, which is located in the county where he is incarcerated, the petition for writ of habeas corpus that is the subject of this appeal.

         II. Grounds for Issuance of the Writ

         A writ of habeas corpus is proper when a judgment of conviction is invalid on its face or when a circuit court lacks jurisdiction over the cause. Philyaw v. Kelley, 2015 Ark. 465, 477 S.W.3d 503. Jurisdiction is the power of the court to hear and determine the subject matter in controversy. Baker v. Norris, 369 Ark. 405, 255 S.W.3d 466 (2007). Under our statute, a petitioner for the writ who does not allege his actual innocence and proceed under Act 1780 of 2001 must plead either the facial invalidity of the judgment or the lack of jurisdiction by the trial court and make a showing by affidavit or other evidence of probable cause to believe that he is being illegally detained. Id.; Ark. Code Ann. § 16-112-103(a)(1) (Repl. 2016). Unless the petitioner can show that the trial court lacked jurisdiction or that the commitment was invalid on its face, there is no basis for a finding that a writ of habeas corpus should issue. Fields v. Hobbs, 2013 Ark. 416.

         III. Standard of Review

         A circuit court's decision on a petition for writ of habeas corpus will be upheld unless it is clearly erroneous. Hobbs v. Gordon, 2014 Ark. 225, 434 S.W.3d 364. A decision 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 made. Id.

         IV. Legality of Judgment of Conviction

         As stated, Anderson argues that the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction in his case because he was charged in an amendment to the information originally filed in his brother Myron's case rather than by an original information filed in his individual case and assigned an individual docket number. He contends that the lack of jurisdiction rendered the judgment in his case invalid on its face, and therefore, the writ should issue to effect his release from custody. The original information charging Myron was filed in the Ashley County Circuit Court on November 30, 2006, and assigned docket number CR-2006-197-4. On December 28, 2006, an amended information was filed that added Anderson's name. The amended information bore the docket number CR-2006-197-4 A & B. (Anderson was designated defendant "B.")

         Claims of a defective information that raise a valid jurisdictional issue are cognizable in a habeas proceeding. Philyaw, 2015 Ark. 465, 477 S.W.3d 503. However, allegations of a defective information that do not raise such a claim are not generally considered jurisdictional and are, accordingly, treated as trial error. Id. See Williams v. Kelley, 2017 Ark. 200, 521 S.W.3d 104 (claim that the failure to assign a different case number to severed criminal proceedings failed to provide defendant with adequate ...


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