OF JUDGMENT: 11/29/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. W. ASHLEY HINES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: EDWARD JOHNSON (PRO SE).
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD.
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
In May 2016, Edward Johnson pled guilty to second degree
murder, robbery, and several other felonies pursuant to a
plea agreement. The circuit court sentenced Johnson as
recommended. Johnson subsequently filed what he styled a
petition for habeas corpus, which the circuit court properly
took as a motion for post-conviction relief. In Johnson's
petition, he contended that his indictment was defective
because it did not conclude with the words "against the
peace and dignity of the state." The circuit court
properly dismissed the petition without an evidentiary
hearing, holding that Johnson's indictment was defective,
but that it was a defect of form, and that Johnson waived his
objection by pleading guilty. Johnson's other contentions
are likewise without merit or have been raised for the first
time on appeal, and so we affirm the summary dismissal of his
The circuit court may summarily dismiss a PCR motion without
an evidentiary hearing "[i]f it plainly appears from the
face of the motion, any annexed exhibits and the prior
proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to
any relief." Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-11(2) (Rev.
2015). To succeed on appeal, the movant must: (1) make a
substantial showing of the denial of a state or federal right
and (2) show that the claim is procedurally alive. Young
v. State, 731 So.2d 1120, 1122 (¶9) (Miss. 1999).
Our review of the summary dismissal of a PCR motion, a
question of law, is de novo. Id.
Indictment - Constitutional Requirements
We combine Johnson's first two issues as he has briefed
them together on appeal and they essentially make the same
challenge to his conviction.
It is undisputed that Johnson's indictment violated
Article 6, Section 169 of the Mississippi Constitution, which
provides in relevant part that "all indictments shall
conclude 'against the peace and dignity of the
state.'" Our courts have enforced this
constitutional requirement, even though it has long been
called "idle and meaningless." See McNeal v.
State, 658 So.2d 1345, 1349 (Miss. 1995) (quoting
Love v. State, 8 So. 465, 465 (Miss. 1891)). But
while the concluding statement is required, it is a matter of
the form of the indictment. Brandau v. State, 662
So.2d 1051, 1055 (Miss. 1995). Challenges to the indictment
for defects of form must be raised as a demurrer to the