OF JUDGMENT: 05/23/2016
FROM WHICH APPEALED LAFAYETTE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON.
ANDREW K. HOWORTH TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAMES HILLIARD PRO SE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND CARLTON, JJ.
James Hilliard, appearing pro se, appeals the Lafayette
County Circuit Court's denial of his motion for
post-conviction relief (PCR). Finding no error, we affirm.
OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In February 2011, Hilliard was indicted for one count of
conspiracy to sell cocaine, and one count of possession of
cocaine with intent to sell. In July 2012, the State filed a
motion to amend Hilliard's indictment to include
habitual-offender status due to prior felony convictions in
California for possession of a controlled substance. The
trial court granted the motion.
On October 8, 2012, Hilliard pleaded guilty to conspiracy to
sell cocaine. As a result of the State's recommendation
and the plea agreement, the trial court dismissed the count
of possession of cocaine with intent to sell. At
Hilliard's plea hearing, the State explained that it had
two motions to amend the indictment. One motion was to
sentence Hilliard as a subsequent offender, which the State
withdrew due to the plea agreement. The other ore tenus
motion was to enhance his sentence as a habitual offender
under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev.
2015). The State pointed to two prior convictions in
California, both for felony possession of a controlled
substance in 1998 and 2000, respectively. Hilliard did not
object to the enhancement, as it was part of the plea
agreement. The trial court found Hilliard qualified for
habitual-offender status under section 99-19-81. He was
sentenced to seventeen years for the conspiracy charge, with
four years suspended and thirteen to serve as a habitual
On May 3, 2016, Hilliard filed an untimely PCR motion,
claiming that his enhanced sentence as a habitual offender
was improper because one of his felony convictions from
California was subsequently redesignated as a misdemeanor. He
claims his sentence as a habitual offender is now invalid and
requires him to be resentenced as a nonhabitual offender. The
trial court summarily denied his PCR motion, and Hilliard
Hilliard seeks to be resentenced as a nonhabitual offender.
He argues that his sentence as a habitual offender under his
plea agreement should be set aside after a prior felony
conviction from California was amended to a misdemeanor. This
issue is a question of law, which is reviewed de novo.
See Doss v. State, 19 So.3d 690, 694 (¶5)
First, this PCR motion is untimely and thus procedurally
barred. A PCR motion challenging a guilty plea must be filed
within three years of the entry of the judgment of
conviction. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-5(2) (Rev. 2015).
Hilliard pleaded guilty in July 2012, and his PCR motion was
filed in May 2016, ...