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Wrenn v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

September 19, 2013

John Edward WRENN
v.
STATE of Mississippi.

Sidney F. Beck, Jr., Olive Branch, attorney for appellant.

Office of the Attorney General by Stephanie B. Wood, attorney for appellee.

Before WALLER, C.J., LAMAR and PIERCE, JJ.

Page 914

LAMAR, Justice.

¶ 1. John Edward Wrenn pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Wrenn appeals from his conviction, alleging that: 1) Mississippi's concealed-weapon statute, Section 97-37-1, precludes his conviction; and 2) he was denied effective assistance of counsel. Because Wrenn's conviction is the result of a guilty plea, we dismiss this appeal.

FACTS

¶ 2. John Edward Wrenn became a convicted felon on February 28, 1992. [1] On April 4, 2011, a Horn Lake police officer found a sawed-off shotgun in Wrenn's truck during a traffic stop.[2] A grand jury indicted Wrenn for violating Section 97-37-5 of the Mississippi Code, which prohibits a convicted felon from possessing a firearm.[3] Wrenn pleaded guilty to the charge on November 9, 2011, and the case was continued for sentencing at a later date. Prior to his sentencing hearing, Wrenn filed a motion to set aside his guilty plea. The trial court denied Wrenn's motion and sentenced him to serve ten years as an habitual offender.[4] Wrenn appeals from his conviction, alleging that Mississippi's concealed-weapon statute, Section 97-37-1, made his gun possession legal and claiming he did not receive effective assistance of counsel. The State responds that Wrenn's appeal should be dismissed because " entering a guilty plea waives the right to directly appeal a conviction."

LAW AND ANALYSIS

¶ 3. This Court has long recognized that " a litigant's right to an appeal is statutory and ‘ not based on any inherent common law or constitutional right.’ " [5] Our " well-established caselaw supports that a party has no right to appeal unless the Legislature gives such right by statute." [6]Section 99-35-101 of the Mississippi Code provides that " any person convicted of an offense in a circuit court may appeal to the Supreme Court" with the exception that, " where the defendant enters a plea of guilty and is sentenced, then no appeal from the circuit court to the Supreme Court shall be allowed." [7] A criminal defendant may challenge a conviction in two ways: " (1) a direct appeal from

Page 915

a conviction, or (2) a proceeding under the Post Conviction Relief Act." [8] Because the right to appeal is a matter of legislative discretion, and no such right has been established when a conviction is the result of a guilty plea, a defendant challenging a conviction entered as result of guilty plea can do so only under the Post Conviction Relief Act.[9]

¶ 4. It is undisputed that Wrenn pleaded guilty to violating Section 97-37-5. As such, Wrenn cannot appeal his conviction directly. Therefore, we dismiss this appeal without reaching the merits of Wrenn's claims.

¶ 5. APPEAL DISMISSED.

WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. DICKINSON, P.J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY CHANDLER AND KING, JJ.; KITCHENS, J., JOINS IN PART. KITCHENS, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY ...


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