ALBERT LEWIS WATTS A/K/A ALBERT L. WATTS A/K/A ALBERT WATTS APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 12/12/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. CHRISTOPHER A. COLLINS, TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ALBERT LEWIS WATTS (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, LISA
GRIFFIS, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND TINDELL, JJ.
Albert Lewis Watts filed a petition for post-conviction
collateral relief (PCCR) in the Circuit Court of Leake
County. The circuit court found it lacked jurisdiction to
entertain the petition due to Watts's failure to obtain
leave from the Mississippi Supreme Court to proceed in the
circuit court. Because we find the circuit court had
jurisdiction to consider the petition for PCCR, we reverse
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 2012, Watts was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced
to life imprisonment as a habitual offender pursuant to
Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83 (Rev. 2007).
Watts v. State, 132 So.3d 1062, 1063-64
(¶¶1, 4) (Miss. Ct. App. 2014). On appeal, we found
the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
Watts had served a term of at least one year on each
sentence, as required under section 99-19-83. Id. at
1065 (¶9). As a result, we affirmed Watts's
conviction but reversed and remanded for resentencing under
Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2007).
On remand, Watts was resentenced as a habitual offender under
section 99-19-81 to serve twenty-three years in the custody
of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. A new
sentencing order was entered by the circuit court. Watts did
not appeal from that order.
On April 22, 2016, Watts filed the subject petition for PCCR
in the circuit court. On December 12, 2016, the circuit court
found it was without jurisdiction to entertain the petition
since Watts failed to obtain leave from the Mississippi
Supreme Court prior to filing his petition in the circuit
court. As a result, the circuit court dismissed Watts's
petition for PCCR. Watts timely appealed.
In addition to this appeal, Watts also filed with the
Mississippi Supreme Court an "application for leave to
proceed in [the] trial court with petition for PCCR." In
his application, Watts sought permission to file his petition
for PCCR in the circuit court. On February 8, 2017, the
Mississippi Supreme Court found "that Watts's
current sentence has not been appealed and that the request
for post-conviction relief should be dismissed without
prejudice to be filed in the [circuit] court."
¶6. We will not disturb a circuit court's denial of
a petition for PCCR unless the factual findings are clearly
erroneous. Kennedy v. State, 179 So.3d 82, 83
(¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. ...