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Jones v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

August 15, 2013

Victor D. JONES a/k/a Victor Dewayne Jones
v.
STATE of Mississippi.

Page 324

Victor D. Jones, appellant, pro se.

Office of the Attorney General by Jeffrey A. Klingfuss, attorney for appellee.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

WALLER, Chief Justice

¶ 1. In June 2004, Victor D. Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery and was sentenced to two consecutive twenty-year terms, to be served in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Jones filed a notice of appeal, which was dismissed for failure to pay the costs of appeal. The mandate issued on October 26, 2004. In December 2004, Jones filed a motion for post-conviction relief (PCR) in the Pike County Circuit Court. The motion was denied on January 20, 2005. The Court of Appeals

Page 325

affirmed that judgment in Jones v. State, 962 So.2d 571, 574 (Miss.Ct.App.2006).

¶ 2. In April 2011, Jones filed a second motion for post-conviction relief, which was dismissed by the trial court because the motion was time-barred and barred as a successive writ. The trial court also found that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the claims because Jones had not sought permission from this Court to proceed in the trial court. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Jones v. State, 119 So.3d 350 (Miss.Ct.App.2012). We affirm the trial court's finding that the motion for post-conviction relief was time-barred and find that the motion also is barred based on res judicata. However, we find that the trial court and Court of Appeals erred in finding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear Jones's claims.

DISCUSSION

Standard of Review

¶ 3. This Court will not reverse a trial court's dismissal of a motion for post-conviction relief absent a finding that the decision was clearly erroneous. Jackson v. State, 67 So.3d 725, 730 (Miss.2011) (citing Brown v. State, 731 So.2d 595, 598 (Miss.1999)). Issues of law are reviewed de novo. Jackson, 67 So.3d at 730.

I. Whether Jones must first seek leave of the Mississippi Supreme Court before filing his motion for post-conviction relief in the trial court.

¶ 4. At the time of Jones's appeal in 2004, an inmate could appeal his sentence directly (but not his conviction) if it resulted from a guilty plea. [1] Trotter v. State, 554 So.2d 313, 315 (Miss.1989) (emphasis added).

¶ 5. Jones's first motion for PCR was filed properly in the first instance in the trial court and was denied on the merits, with the denial affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Jones's second PCR (the subject of this appeal) was dismissed as time-barred and barred as a successive writ. See Miss.Code Ann. §§ 99-39-5(2), 99-39-23(6) (Supp.2012). The trial court also found that it lacked jurisdiction because Jones had not sought leave of this Court. Mississippi Code Section 99-39-7 requires a petitioner to seek leave of this Court to file a motion for PCR " [w]here the conviction and sentence have been affirmed on appeal or the appeal has been dismissed...." Miss.Code Ann. § 99-39-7 (Supp.2012). However, because Jones was permitted to appeal only his sentence ...


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