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JOHN T. FLEMING v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

NOVEMBER 15, 1989

JOHN T. FLEMING
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE DAN LEE, P.J., PRATHER AND BLASS, JJ.

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Fleming was indicted by the Hinds county Grand Jury at its January, 1987 term on a charge of possession of a controlled substance and also as an habitual offender under Miss. Code Ann. 99-19-81 (1972), as amended. On August 12, 1987, Fleming, at the time represented by counsel, entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to a term of three (3) years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections as an habitual offender. He was also ordered to pay a fine of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000.00).

I.

 On May 20, 1988, in an original proceeding, Fleming filed a "Motion for Transcripts of Sentencing and Other Court Records" in the Hinds County Circuit Court. In an order signed May 25, 1988, the circuit court, William F. Coleman presiding, denied Fleming's motion for the reason that Fleming "failed to show a basis or need."

 Feeling aggrieved by that decision, Fleming appeals to this Court in forma pauperis.

 II.

 Preliminarily, there are two primary ways in which a criminal defendant may challenge a trial court proceeding: (1) a

 direct appeal from a conviction, or (2) a proceeding under the Post Conviction Relief Act. An appeal is a matter of statutory right and not based on any inherent common law or constitutional right. See Jones v. Barnes, 463 U.S. 745, 751, 103 S. Ct. 3308, 77 L.Ed.2d 987, 993 (1983); Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S. Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891 (1956); McKane v. Durston, 153 U.S. 684, 14 S. Ct. 913, 38 L.Ed. 867 (1894); Bennett v. State, 293 So. 2d 1 (Miss. 1974); State v. Ridinger, 279 So. 2d 618 (Miss. 1973); State v. Warren, 197 Miss. 13, 19 So. 2d 491 (1944).

 Under Miss. Code Ann. 99-35-101 (1972) "any person convicted of an offense in a circuit court may appeal to the supreme court, provided, however, an appeal from the circuit court to the supreme court shall not be allowed in any case where the defendant enters a plea of guilty." This statute provides the avenue for direct appeal of a criminal conviction, but it does not permit an appeal from the denial of a motion for a transcript or other records as a separate action in and of itself. A defendant may raise such a claim within the context of a direct appeal under this section, as was the case in Fisher v. State, 532 So. 2d 992 (Miss. 1985). However, Fleming pled guilty, did not directly appeal, and consequently was prevented from raising this claim within the context of a direct appeal.

 The other avenue of appellate review available to Fleming is via the Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act, Miss. Code Ann. 99-39-1 (Supp. 1989) et seq. A prisoner who has filed a proper motion pursuant to this Act, and whose motion has withstood summary dismissal under 99-39-11 (2), may be entitled to trial transcripts or other relevant documents under the discovery provisions of 99-39-15, upon good cause shown and in the discretion of the trial judge. See also Miss. Code Ann. 99-39-17 (Supp. 1989). If the prisoner's request for transcripts or other documents is denied, and his overall petition is ultimately denied, then he may appeal the denial of his petition for collateral relief pursuant to 99-39-25 which provides that final judgments entered under the Act may be reviewed by this Court on appeal brought by either the State or the prisoner. Within that appeal, the prisoner may include the claim that the denial of his request for transcripts or other documents was error, just as was done on direct appeal in Fisher, supra, and Ruffin, supra.

 However, nothing in the Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act or elsewhere gives a prisoner the right to institute an independent, original action for a free transcript or other documents, and then if dissatisfied with the trial court's ruling, to directly appeal that ruling to this court as a separate and independent action. Fleming did not file his request for free transcript and other documents as part of a

 motion under the Act for post-conviction collateral relief, nor is this claim raised as part of a direct appeal from conviction.

 Therefore, this appeal should be dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction. See Miss. Code Ann. 99-39-7 (Supp. 1989); McDonall v. State, 465 So. 2d 1077, 1078 (Miss. 1985). (having pled guilty, Fleming must resort first to the trial court). Fleming may seek production of the documents under the discovery ...


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