Jefferson Circuit Court, CC-06-1946; CC-06-1947; and
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
district attorney for the Tenth Judicial Circuit (hereinafter
"the State") filed this petition for a writ of
mandamus requesting this Court to direct Judge Stephen C.
Wallace to vacate his March 8, 2018, order approving Paul C.
Friedley's transfer from the custody of the Alabama
Department of Corrections to the Jefferson County Community
Corrections Program and amending Friedley's sentence to
reflect that the remainder of his sentence "is diverted
to the Jefferson County Community Corrections Program."
The State further requests that this Court direct Judge
Wallace to reinstate Friedley's original sentence.
to the information contained in the petition and
Friedley's answer, on December 21, 2005, Friedley, while
operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and
driving in the wrong direction on Interstate 65, was involved
in a head-on collision that caused the death of the driver of
the other vehicle. Two other vehicles were also involved in
the collision and the drivers of those vehicles were injured.
He was charged with one count of murder and two counts of
first-degree assault. On May 4, 2007, Friedley pleaded guilty
to 1 count of manslaughter and to 2 counts of first-degree
assault and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for each
17, 2017, Friedley filed a "Motion for Transfer to
Community Corrections Halfway House." The State filed a
written objection to the motion. A hearing was held on the
motion on November 21, 2017, and on March 8, 2018, Judge
Wallace entered his order granting Friedley's motion. The
State filed this mandamus petition on March 15, 2018. Also on
March 15, 2018, the State filed in the trial court a motion
to reconsider and to vacate the order amending Friedley's
sentence; it appears that motion is still pending.
this Court can consider the issues raised by the State in its
petition, it must first consider an issue raised in
Friedley's answer, specifically, that the State does not
have standing to file this petition for a writ of mandamus.
Friedley argues that a party must sustain an injury to a
legally protected right in order to have standing to bring a
petition for a writ of mandamus and that the State has not
sustained such an injury. His argument is premised on the
fact that Art. 9, Title 15, Code of Alabama 1975, does not
require the attorney general or the district attorney to
consent to the participation of an inmate in a
community-corrections program. We disagree. "[A] trial
court does not have jurisdiction to impose a sentence not
provided for by statute. Therefore, as an issue concerning
subject-matter jurisdiction, '"[a]n illegal sentence
may be challenged at any time."'" Hollis v.
State, 845 So.2d 5, 6 (Ala.Crim.App.2002) (quoting
Johnson v. State, 722 So.2d 799, 800
(Ala.Crim.App.1998), quoting in turn J.N.J., Jr. v.
State, 690 So.2d 519, 520 (Ala.Crim.App.1996)). If
Friedley is permitted to participate in a
community-corrections program when he is not eligible to do
so, then that would constitute an illegal sentence. "The
State may file a mandamus petition challenging an illegal
sentence." State v. Monette, 887 So.2d 314, 315
(Ala.Crim.App.2004). Therefore, because this petition
challenges the legality of a sentence, the State has standing
to bring this petition.
State argues first in its petition that the trial court did
not have jurisdiction to amend Friedley's sentence some
10 years after it was pronounced. Previously this Court has
held that "[i]f a motion for a new trial or a request to
modify a sentence is not filed within 30 days of sentencing,
the trial court loses all jurisdiction to modify the
sentence." Massey v. State, 587 So.2d 448, 449
(Ala.Crim.App.1991). See also Ex parte Hitt, 778
So.2d 159 (Ala. 2000). However, the legislature may carve
exceptions to this general rule by vesting jurisdiction in
the sentencing court in limited circumstances. An example can
be found in the now repealed § 13A-5-9.1, Ala. Code
1975. "By requiring in § 13A-5-9.1 that the
provisions of § 13A-5-9 are to be applied retroactively,
however, the Legislature vested jurisdiction in the
sentencing judge or the presiding judge to reopen a case more
than 30 days after a defendant has been sentenced."
Kirby v. State, 899 So.2d 968, 971 (Ala. 2004).
Another example is found in § 15-18-172(d), Ala. Code
1975, which states, in pertinent part:
"A state inmate incarcerated in a state facility may be
approved by the department for participation in a community
punishment and corrections program established under this
article and be assigned to a program in the county from which
the inmate was sentenced if a community punishment and
corrections program under this article has been established
in that county and if the sentencing judge of the county
authorizes the inmate to participate in the program."
15-18-175(a)(1), Ala. Code 1975, provides that, in order to
be considered for the community-corrections program,
individuals must be "persons who, without this option,
would be incarcerated in a correctional institution or
who are currently incarcerated in a correctional
institution." (Emphasis added.) Thus, if Friedley
met the criteria for eligibility for participation in a
community-corrections program, the sentencing judge
would have the discretion to authorize his participation in
such a program.
State next argues that Friedley is not eligible to
participate in the community-corrections program. Individuals
deemed to be "excluded felony offenders" are not
eligible to participate in a community-corrections program.
See § 15-18-175(b)(2), Ala. Code 1975. The
Alabama Code defines "excluded felony offenders"
"One who is convicted of any of the following felony
offenses: Murder, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the
first degree, sodomy in the first degree, arson in the first
degree, trafficking in controlled substances, robbery in the
first degree, burglary in the first degree, manslaughter,
sexual abuse in the first degree, forcible sex crimes, sex
offenses involving a child as defined in Section 15-20A-4, or
assault in the first degree if the assault leaves the victim
permanently disfigured or disabled."
15-18-171(14), Ala. Code 1975. The State argues that Friedley
is an excluded felony offender because he pleaded guilty to
first-degree assault and the indictments to the offenses for
which he pleaded guilty stated that he "did cause
serious bodily injury to the person of
another." At the November 21, 2017, hearing, the
State introduced a letter from a surviving victim that stated
that she had sustained two broken legs and damage to her
spine as a result of the accident and that she continues to
suffer disabilities related to that accident. Friedley argues
that, although the trial court accepted the letter, the court
did not rule it to be legal evidence or to be admissible. The
transcript of the November 21, 2017, hearing attached to the
State's petition indicates that the trial court stated:
"I don't disagree that it's hearsay or that -- I
don't know what position she's in to make a sort of
ultimate issue determination on that. I will overrule
your objection and allow them to introduce State's
1, but I will look at it, I believe, in it's proper
context." (Exhibit B to State's Petition, p. 11.)
(Emphasis added.) Thus, the transcript indicates that the
trial court allowed the victim's letter into evidence.
Accordingly, the State established that Friedley pleaded
guilty to a first-degree assault that left the victim
permanently disfigured or disabled.
order to satisfy the prerequisites for the issuance of a writ
of mandamus, the petitioner must establish: (1) a clear legal
right to the relief sought; (2) an imperative duty upon the
respondent to perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so; (3)
no adequate remedy at law; and (4) the properly invoked
jurisdiction of the reviewing court." Ex parte
Wyre, 74 So.3d 479, 480-81 (Ala.Crim.App.2011). The
State has met these four prerequisites for the issuance of a
writ of mandamus. The State has a right to ensure that the
laws of this State are upheld, namely, that the eligibility
and exclusion requirements contained in § 15-18-175,
Ala. Code 1975, are enforced. The trial court has a duty to
enforce the aforementioned requirements, but, in allowing
Friedley, an excluded felony offender, to participate in a
community-corrections program, it has not done so. No statute
or rule allows the State to appeal from Judge Wallace's
order; therefore, it does not have an adequate remedy at law.
Finally, the State has properly invoked this Court's
jurisdiction by timely filing a petition for a writ of
mandamus. Therefore, this petition is due to be, and is