from Tuscaloosa Circuit Court (CC-89-1382)
Wedgeworth appeals the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court's summary
dismissal of his pro se petition for postconviction relief.
The petition was a standard form styled as a "Petition
for Relief From Conviction or Sentence (pursuant to Temporary
Rule 20, Alabama Rules of Criminal
Procedure)."The petition challenged Wedgeworth's
1991 convictions for capital murder and his resulting
sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
This Court affirmed Wedgeworth's convictions and sentence
on direct appeal. Wedgeworth v. State, 610 So.2d
1244 (Ala.Crim.App.1992). The certificate of judgment was
issued on December 11, 1992.
instant petition was filed in May 2018. On the form,
Wedgeworth marked the general allegation that the trial court
was without jurisdiction to render the judgment or to impose
sentence. In an attached supplement, Wedgeworth made the
specific argument that "the trial court record revealed
that the victim's death was caused in a separate and
different act by Mr. Frye when he ran over her with his
pickup truck which occurred on Friday the next day after
petitioner kidnapped, robbed, and left her alive." Thus,
Wedgeworth appeared to argue that the evidence was
insufficient to prove that he killed the victim. Without
receiving a response from the State, the circuit court
summarily dismissed Wedgeworth's petition on July 31,
2018. However, the circuit court's order shows that the
court treated Wedgeworth's petition as a motion for a
judgment of acquittal under Rule 20, Ala. R. Crim. P., rather
than a petition for postconviction relief under Rule 32, Ala.
R. Crim. P.:
"Petitioner was sentenced on August 28, 1991. '[The
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals] and the Alabama Supreme
Court have consistently held that a trial court retains
jurisdiction to modify a sentence for 30 days after the
sentence is pronounced.' Moore v. State, 814
So.2d 308, 309 (Ala.Crim.App.2001). Beyond the 30th day, the
trial court only retains jurisdiction upon the timely filing
of certain post-judgement motions. See Moore at 309 (listing
motion for a new trial and requests to amend sentence as such
motions). Motions for judgment of acquittal may be made
post-conviction 'but no later than thirty (30) days after
the pronouncement of sentence.' Ala. R. Crim. P. 20.3
(b)(1). A Rule 20 motion in this case must have been filed
before September 27, 1991, for the Court to have retained
jurisdiction over the sentence. As such, this petition is due
to be and is hereby DISMISSED."
Capitalization in original.)
substance of a motion and not its style determines what kind
of motion it is." Ex parte Deramus, 882 So.2d
875, 876 (Ala. 2002). "A proceeding under [Rule 32]
displaces all post-trial remedies except post-trial motions
under Rule 24 and appeal. Any other post-conviction petition
seeking relief from a conviction or sentence shall be treated
as a proceeding under this rule." Rule 32.4, Ala. R.
Crim. P. Our Supreme Court stated long ago: "[P]etitions
for post-conviction remedies, presently governed by Temporary
Rule 20, will be governed by Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P.,
beginning January 1, 1991, the effective date of the new
Rules." Ex parte Rice, 565 So.2d 606 n.1 (Ala.
present case, we conclude that Wedgeworth's petition
should have been treated as a Rule 32 petition and that the
appropriate course of action is for this Court to reverse the
circuit court's judgment and remand the case for that
court to treat the petition according to its substance rather
than its form. See, e.g., Shapley v.
State, 260 So.3d 69 (Ala.Crim.App.2018)(reversing the
circuit court's order improperly treating the
defendant's motion as a motion to correct a clerical
error pursuant to Rule 29, Ala. R. Crim. P., rather than a
Rule 32 petition).
on the foregoing, we direct the circuit court to set aside
its earlier ruling and to treat Wedgeworth's petition as
a petition for postconviction relief under Rule 32, Ala. R.
Crim. P. Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court's
judgment and remand the case for proceedings consistent with
Windom, P.J., and Kellum and Cole, JJ., concur.
Court reverses the circuit court's summary dismissal of
Zackery Wedgeworth's petition for postconviction relief
and remands the case for the circuit court to treat his
petition as one filed under Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P.
Wedgeworth filed his petition on a form entitled
"Petition for Relief from Conviction or Sentence
(Pursuant to Temporary Rule 20, Alabama Rules of Criminal
Procedure)." The petition challenged Wedgeworth's
1991 convictions for capital murder and his sentence of life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Court recognizes, the claim presented in Wedgeworth's
petition--a nonjurisdictional claim challenging the
sufficiency of the evidence--is a claim cognizable under Rule
32, Ala. R. Crim. P. Wedgeworth's use of the
"Temporary Rule 20" form indicates that he
understood that his claim was a postconviction claim for
relief, a procedural mechanism that Wedgeworth has used on
many occasions. The Temporary Rule 20 form Wedgeworth used
is identical in several respects to the standard form that
accompanies Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., and Temporary Rule 20,
Ala. R. Crim. P., was replaced by Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P.,