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Holloway v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

July 25, 2019

JAMES HOLLOWAY Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Respondent

          ORDER

          JAMES D. MAXWELL II, JUSTICE

         The instant matter is before the en banc Court on James Holloway's Application for Leave to File Motion for Post-Conviction Relief. In 2004, Holloway was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced, as a habitual offender, to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The Court of Appeals affirmed Holloway's conviction and sentence. Holloway v. State, 914 So.2d 817 (Miss. 2005).

         Holloway has filed three prior applications for post-conviction relief, the first in 2006 and the most recent in March 2015. Each of Holloway's applications has resulted in the denial or dismissal of his application. In the instant application, Holloway makes the same arguments that he made in his prior applications; therefore, we find that Holloway's application is time-barred pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 99-39-5(2) (Rev. 2015), is barred as a successive writ pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 99-39-23(6) (Rev. 2015), and is barred by the doctrine of res judicata pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 99-39-21(3) (Rev. 2015).

         Holloway does raise one issue that has been recognized as an exception to the application of the procedural bars. Holloway claims that he is serving an illegal sentence due to a late amendment to his indictment charging him as a habitual offender. However, merely claiming that he is subject to an illegal sentence is insufficient to avoid the application of the procedural bars. Instead, the claim must have some arguable basis for truth. See Means v. State, 43 So.3d 438, 442 (Miss. 2010). We conclude that Holloway's claim lacks the needed arguable basis; therefore, his argument that he is serving an illegal sentence is also subject to the procedural bars.

         After due consideration, we find that Holloway's application is not well-taken and should be denied. Further, the instant application is Holloway's fourth application for post-conviction relief; therefore, we take the opportunity to warn Holloway that any future filings deemed frivolous may subject him to monetary sanctions and restrictions on his ability to proceed in forma pauperis in the future. See Order, Dunn v. State, 2016-M-01514 (Miss. Nov. 15, 2018).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that James Holloway's Application for Leave to File Motion for Post-Conviction Relief is hereby denied.

         SO ORDERED.

          TO DENY AND ISSUE SANCTIONS WARNING: RANDOLPH, C.J., COLEMAN, MAXWELL, BEAM, CHAMBERLIN, ISHEE AND GRIFFIS, JJ.

          TO DISMISS: KITCHENS AND KING, P. JJ.

          KING, JUSTICE, OBJECTING TO THE ORDER IN PART WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN STATEMENT

         ¶1. Although James Holloway's application for post-conviction relief does not merit relief, I disagree with this Court's warning that future filings this Court deems frivolous may result in monetary sanctions or restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction collateral relief in forma pauperis.

         ¶2. This Court seems to tire of reading motions that it deems "frivolous" and imposes monetary sanctions on indigent defendants. The Court then bars those defendants, who in all likelihood are unable to pay the imposed sanctions, from future filings. In choosing to prioritize efficiency over justice, this Court forgets the oath that each justice took before assuming office. That oath stated in relevant part, "I . . . solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. . . ."

         ¶3. I disagree with this Court's warning that future filings may result in additional monetary sanctions or restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction collateral relief in forma pauperis. The imposition of monetary sanctions upon a criminal defendant proceeding in forma pauperis only serves to punish or preclude that defendant from his lawful right to appeal. Black's Law Dictionary defines sanction as "[a] provision that gives force to a legal imperative by either rewarding obedience or punishing disobedience." Sanction, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014) (emphasis added). Instead of punishing the defendant for filing a motion, I believe that this Court should simply deny or dismiss motions that lack merit. As Justice Brennan wisely stated,

The Court's order purports to be motivated by this litigant's disproportionate consumption of the Court's time and resources. Yet if his filings are truly as repetitious as it appears, it hardly takes much time to identify them as such. I find it difficult to see how the amount of time and resources required to deal properly with McDonald's petitions could be so great as to justify the step we now take. Indeed, the time that has been consumed in the preparation of the present order barring the door to Mr. McDonald far exceeds that which would have been necessary to process his petitions for the next several years at least. I continue to ...

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