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Singleton v. Banks

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

December 5, 2017

DANIEL ISRAEL SINGLETON A/K/A DANIEL I. SINGLETON A/K/A DANNY SINGLETON A/K/A DANNY SINGLETON, JR. APPELLANT
v.
SUPERINTENDENT JACQUELYN BANKS, STATE OF MISSISSIPPI AND JACQUELYN BANKS APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/28/2016

         GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ROBERT P. KREBS JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DANIEL ISRAEL SINGLETON (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: ANTHONY LOUIS SCHMIDT JR. DARRELL CLAYTON BAUGHN

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          BARNES, J.

         ¶1. In May 1984, Daniel Singleton was convicted by a Harrison County Circuit Court jury of attempted armed robbery and sentenced to thirty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). He is currently incarcerated at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI) in Greene County.

         ¶2. On December 7, 2015, Singleton filed a request through the MDOC's Administrative Remedy Program (ARP), alleging he was entitled to 206 days (later amended to 157 days) of pretrial credit for time served in a Louisiana jail. Singleton claimed that after he was arrested in Mississippi for attempted armed robbery, he was transported to Louisiana, waiving extradition. The MDOC rejected Singleton's request as untimely, noting the "[i]ncident happened in 1984 and was received in this office on 2/11/2016." Singleton filed a "petition seeking writ of habeas corpus" with the Harrison County Circuit Court on March 10, 2016, appealing the denial of his complaint by the MDOC.[1] See Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-807 (Rev. 2015) (providing an offender aggrieved by an adverse ARP decision has thirty days to seek judicial review). The petition was transferred to Greene County Circuit Court, the county where Singleton is incarcerated.[2] The circuit court affirmed the MDOC's decision on July 5, 2016, finding that Singleton's grievance was untimely, as he "waited over thirty-two (32) years before filing[.]"

         ¶3. Although we find the circuit court erred in affirming the MDOC's decision that Singleton's claim was untimely, we affirm the court's dismissal of the petition as the claim is without merit. "It is well[ ]established that this Court will affirm the action of the trial court when the right result is reached, even if for an incorrect reason." Stanley v. Turner, 846 So.2d 279, 282 (¶12) (Miss. Ct. App. 2003).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶4. The record shows that on October 28, 1983, Harrison County issued an arrest warrant for Singleton for attempted armed robbery. On November 23, 1983, the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Department in Louisiana informed the Harrison County Sheriff's Department that it had Singleton in custody on a charge of being a convicted felon with a firearm and he would, therefore, be unable to attend his court date. Singleton claims that he should be awarded pretrial credit for the 157 days he spent in jail in Louisiana.[3]

         ¶5. The MDOC determined that Singleton's claim was untimely, and the circuit court affirmed the decision. MDOC Grievance Procedures state that an ARP "first step" letter "will be written to the ARP Director within 30 days of an alleged event." The ARP Director does have discretion, however, to waive this requirement "if circumstances warrant." Were Singleton disputing the accrual of his trusty time or an MDOC disciplinary action, we would agree with the MDOC's determination. However, Singleton's claim addresses the computation of his sentence, which if meritorious, could result in his being held in unlawful custody after his sentence has expired.[4] In the similar context of a post-conviction-relief case, a movant's claim "[t]hat his sentence has expired; his probation, parole or conditional release [was] unlawfully revoked; or he is otherwise unlawfully held in custody" is an exception to the procedural time-bar. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-5(1)(h) (Rev. 2015). There is no reason why Singleton's claim should be summarily dismissed as time-barred, particularly when the MDOC's procedural thirty-day requirement is discretionary in nature.[5]

         ¶6. Regardless, we find no merit to Singleton's argument. Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-23 (Rev. 2015) provides:

The number of days spent by a prisoner in incarceration in any municipal or county jail while awaiting trial on a criminal charge, or awaiting an appeal to a higher court upon conviction, shall be applied on any sentence rendered by a court of law or on any ...

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