OF JUDGMENT: 08/01/2018
SUNFLOWER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. CAROL L. WHITE-RICHARD
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DEXTER WATSON (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: BILLY L. GORE
J. WILSON, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND LAWRENCE, JJ.
Following a jury trial, Dexter Watson was convicted of murder
and sentenced to life imprisonment, and his conviction and
sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. Watson v.
State, 127 So.3d 270 (Miss. Ct. App. 2013), cert.
denied, 125 So.3d 658 (Miss. 2013). Watson subsequently
filed three applications for leave to file a motion for
post-conviction relief in the trial court. See Miss.
Code Ann. §§ 99-39-7 & -27 (Rev. 2015). The
Mississippi Supreme Court denied each application.
Watson then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in
the Sunflower County Circuit Court. His petition alleged a
deficiency in his indictment. The circuit court denied the
petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief could
be granted. Watson appealed.
"A pleading cognizable under the [Uniform
Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act (UPCCRA)] will be
treated as a motion for post-conviction relief that is
subject to the procedural rules promulgated therein,
regardless of how the plaintiff has denominated or
characterized the pleading." Knox v. State, 75
So.3d 1030, 1035 (¶12) (Miss. 2011). Thus,
"post-trial petitions that are in the nature of habeas
corpus are considered under the UPCCRA." Edmond v.
Miss. Dep't of Corr., 783 So.2d 675, 678 (¶9)
(Miss. 2001). Accordingly, Watson's petition for a
"writ of habeas corpus" is considered a motion for
post-conviction relief and is subject to the requirements of
The UPCCRA provides that a motion for post-conviction relief
"shall not be filed in the trial court until the motion
shall have first been presented to" the Supreme Court
and the Supreme Court enters an order "allowing the
filing of such motion in the trial court." Miss. Code
Ann. § 99-39-7. "This procedure is not merely
advisory, but jurisdictional." Chandler v.
State, 190 So.3d 509, 511 (¶6) (Miss. Ct. App.
2016) (quoting Dunaway v. State, 111 So.3d 117, 118
(¶6) (Miss. Ct. App. 2013)). If the prisoner does not
obtain permission to file the motion in the circuit court,
the circuit court lacks authority to adjudicate the motion.
Forkner v. State, 227 So.3d 404, 405-06 (¶5)
Watson's conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct
appeal, and he failed to obtain permission to pursue
post-conviction relief. Therefore, the circuit court lacked
jurisdiction to adjudicate Watson's
petition. Rather than denying the petition for
failure to state a claim, the circuit court should have
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Forkner, 227
So.3d at 406 (¶6). Therefore, we vacate the judgment of
the circuit court and render a judgment dismissing
Watson's petition for lack of jurisdiction.
VACATED AND RENDERED.
BARNES, C.J., CARLTON, P.J., GREENLEE, WESTBROOKS, TINDELL,
McDONALD, LAWRENCE, ...