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State v. Mead

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

April 22, 2015

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
ALVIN MEAD

Page 1045

ON APPLICATION FOR WRITS DIRECTED TO CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 395-920, SECTION " H" . Honorable Camille Buras, Judge.

Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District Attorney, Andrew M. Pickett, Esq., Assistant District Attorney, Parish of Orleans, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR RESPONDENT/STATE OF LOUISIANA.

Alvin Mead, Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, LA, RELATOR/DEFENDANT.

(Court composed of Judge Dennis R. Bagneris, Sr., Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Paul A. Bonin).

OPINION

PAUL A. BONIN, J.

Page 1046

[2014-1051 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] Alvin Mead is serving a life-without-parole sentence at Angola. Found guilty of possessing a large amount of cocaine in 1999, Mr. Mead was then adjudicated a third-felony offender under the Habitual Offender Law. His most recent post-conviction filing in the district court is a motion to vacate an illegal sentence in which Mr. Mead claimed that deficiencies in the State's proof respecting the two predicate felonies charged in his multiple bill resulted in an illegal sentence being imposed. The district court, finding that the life-without-parole sentence imposed upon Mr. Mead was not illegal, denied his motion.

Mr. Mead timely filed an application for supervisory review. We directed the district attorney to respond to Mr. Mead's application and ordered the entire record of the district court proceedings filed with us. We grant the writ application, but, after our de novo review, we find that the district judge correctly ruled that the sentence imposed upon Mr. Mead is legal.

We further examined Mr. Mead's motion to determine its viability as an application for post-conviction relief and whether remand to the district court [2014-1051 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] would be merited. We conclude, however, that his motion, construed as a PCR application, would be time-barred and, moreover, that the grounds asserted for relief would not be cognizable in such a proceeding.

Accordingly, we deny Mr. Mead the relief sought in his application and affirm the ruling denying his motion. We explain our decision in greater detail below.

I

At the outset we note that, unlike an application for post-conviction relief, a motion to correct an illegal sentence or, as styled here, a motion to vacate an illegal sentence is never time-barred. See La. C.Cr.P. art. 882 A (" An illegal sentence may be corrected at any time by the court that imposed the sentence or by an appellate court on review." ); State v. Campbell, 03-3035, p. 5 (La. 7/6/04), 877 So.2d 112, 116. See also State ex rel. Smith v. Criminal Dist. Court, 93-1937 (La. 11/18/94), 646 So.2d 367 (holding that the two-year limitations period for applications for post-conviction relief under La. C.Cr.P. art. 930.8, discussed in Part V-A, post, does not apply to motions to correct illegal sentences under Article 882). And thus prisoners are permitted to raise these motions long after their convictions and sentences have become final. See State ex rel. Burger v. State, 95-1578 (La. 11/3/95), 661 So.2d 1373; State v. Edwards, 13-2497, p. 1 (La. 2/21/14), 133 So.3d 1261, 1261-62. See also La. C.Cr.P. art. 882 cmt.(a) (" The phrase 'at any time' makes clear the court's authority to make a correction after the defendant has begun to serve [his] sentence." ); La. C.Cr.P. art. 922.

Page 1047

[2014-1051 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] II

" A sentence is the penalty imposed by the court on a defendant upon a plea of guilty, upon a verdict of guilty, or upon a judgment of guilt." La. C.Cr.P. art. 871(A). " A valid sentence must rest upon a valid and sufficient: (1) Statute; (2) Indictment; and (3) Verdict, judgment, or plea of guilty." [1] La. C.Cr.P. art. 872. Thus, an illegal sentence is, in the contemplation of the law, no sentence at all. See La. C.Cr.P. art. 882 cmt.(a); see also State v. Green, 93-1432, p. 6 (La.App. 4 ...


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