Thornton v. Jones , 2015 Ark. 109 ( 2015 )


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  •                                       Cite as 
    2015 Ark. 109
    
                       SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS
                                             No.   CR-14-1091
    
    JUSTIN THORNTON                                     Opinion Delivered March   12, 2015
                                   PETITIONER
                                                        PRO SE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
    V.                                                  MANDAMUS
                                                        [LINCOLN COUNTY CIRCUIT
                                                        COURT, NO. 40CR-11-47]
    HON. BERLIN C. JONES, CIRCUIT
    JUDGE
                         RESPONDENT
                                                        PETITION DENIED.
    
    
                                            PER CURIAM
    
    
           In 2013, petitioner Justin Thornton was convicted of capital murder, misdemeanor
    
    unauthorized use of a vehicle, possession of firearms by certain persons, and abuse of a corpse.
    
    The judgment imposed sentences of life imprisonment without parole on the murder charge,
    
    twelve months’ imprisonment for the charge of misdemeanor unauthorized use of a vehicle, 240
    
    months’ imprisonment on the firearms charge, and 240 months’ imprisonment on the charge
    
    of abuse of a corpse, with 120 months’ enhancement on the life sentence. The abuse-of-a-
    
    corpse sentence was designated to run consecutively to the murder and firearm sentences. On
    
    appeal, petitioner only challenged the sufficiency of the evidence for the capital-murder charge,
    
    and this court reversed and dismissed. Thornton v. State, 
    2014 Ark. 157
    , 
    433 S.W.3d 216
    .
    
           Petitioner has now filed in this court a petition for writ of mandamus in which he seeks
    
    to have this court direct the circuit judge, the Honorable Berlin C. Jones, to enter a new or
    
    amended judgment reflecting the dismissal of the capital-murder charge by this court. In his
    
    response to the petition, Judge Jones asserts that he did not fail to do an act that he was ordered
                                            Cite as 
    2015 Ark. 109
    
    to do and, interpreting petitioner’s request for relief as a request for correction of the records
    
    of the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”), that he is not the party responsible for
    
    correcting those records.
    
           The primary function of the writ of mandamus is to require an inferior court or tribunal
    
    to act when it has improperly failed or declined to do so, and the writ is not applied to control
    
    the discretion of a trial court or tribunal or to correct an erroneous exercise of discretion. Friar
    
    v. Erwin, 
    2014 Ark. 487
    , 
    450 S.W.3d 666
     (citing State ex rel. Purcell v. Nelson, 
    246 Ark. 210
    , 
    438 S.W.2d 33
     (1969)). The purpose of a writ of mandamus is to enforce an established right or to
    
    enforce the performance of a duty. Cuatepotzo v. Hobbs, 
    2014 Ark. 489
     (per curiam). A writ of
    
    mandamus is issued by this court only to compel an official or a judge to take some action, and
    
    when requesting a writ, a petitioner must show a clear and certain right to the relief sought and
    
    the absence of any other remedy. Id. In this case, petitioner has not shown a clear and certain
    
    right to the relief he has requested.
    
           As the respondent points out, our decision reversed and dismissed petitioner’s conviction
    
    for capital murder; there was no remand requiring any action by the trial court. Because the trial
    
    court was not directed to enter an amended judgment, petitioner has not established that Judge
    
    Jones was obligated to enter an amended judgment or that he has failed to perform a duty
    
    imposed by this court.
    
           As for any obligation regarding notice to the ADC of this court’s mandate, petitioner did
    
    not request relief concerning such notice. The petition seeking the writ does not reference the
    
    ADC or petitioner’s prison-sentence records. The only relief requested in the petition was the
    
    
    
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                                          Cite as 
    2015 Ark. 109
    
    entry of a new or amended judgment. In any event, the State indicates in its response to the
    
    petition that the Attorney General’s office has provided a certified copy of the court’s mandate
    
    to the ADC’s records department and that the ADC has modified its records to reflect the
    
    reversal of the capital murder conviction. Thus, as already noted, petitioner failed to establish
    
    that he had a right to the only relief sought.
    
           Petition denied.
    
           Justin Thornton, pro se petitioner.
    
           Dustin McDaniel, Att’y Gen., by: Nicana C. Sherman, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for respondent.
    
    
    
    
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Document Info

DocketNumber: CR-14-1091

Citation Numbers: 2015 Ark. 109

Judges: Per Curiam

Filed Date: 3/12/2015

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 3/3/2016