Denied August 9, 2019.
from Montgomery Circuit Court (CC-10-1558.61)
Lanier, appellant, pro se.
Marshall, atty. gen., and John J. Davis, asst. atty. gen.,
Lanier appeals the circuit court's summary dismissal of
his petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Rule
32, Ala. R. Crim. P., in which he attacked his sentences, as
a habitual felony offender, of life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole for his 2011 convictions for five
counts of first-degree robbery. This Court affirmed
Lanier's convictions and sentences in an unpublished
memorandum issued on December 12, 2011. Lanier v.
State (No. CR-10-0646), 120 So.3d 1241 (Ala.Crim.App.
2011) (table). The Alabama Supreme Court denied
certiorari review, and this Court issued a certificate of
judgment on May 11, 2012.
January 18, 2019, Lanier filed this, his second, Rule 32
petition. In his petition, Lanier alleged that
his sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole were illegal because, he said, one of the three prior
convictions used to enhance his sentences under the Habitual
Felony Offender Act, § 13A-5-9, Ala. Code 1975
("the HFOA"), was invalid for purposes of sentence
enhancement. Specifically, Lanier argued that his 1996
guilty-plea conviction for first-degree robbery could not be
used to enhance his 2011 sentences because, he said, the
sentence for his 1996 conviction was subsequently determined
to be illegal. See Lanier v. State, 270 So.3d 304
(Ala.Crim.App. 2018). According to Lanier, an illegal
sentence renders the conviction for which the sentence was
imposed invalid for purposes of sentence enhancement under
the HFOA. On January 22, 2019, without receiving a response
from the State, the circuit court summarily dismissed
appeal, Lanier reasserts the claim he raised in his petition
and argues that the circuit court erred in summarily
dismissing his petition. We disagree.
claim is meritless on its face. It is true that, in our
opinion in Lanier, supra, this Court recognized that
Lanier's sentence for his 1996 robbery conviction was
illegal. It is equally true that
"`"[a] conviction that has been set aside or
reversed may not be used to enhance [a]
penalty."'" Crenshaw v. State, 740
So.2d 478, 479 (Ala.Crim.App. 1998) (quoting Prock v.
State, 471 So.2d 519, 521 (Ala.Crim.App. 1985), quoting
in turn 24B C.J.S. Criminal Law § 1960(6)
(1962)). See also McClintock v. State, 773 So.2d
1057, 1059 (Ala.Crim.App. 2000). However, Lanier's 1996
conviction has not been set aside or reversed, and this Court
did not hold in our opinion in Lanier, supra, that
the 1996 conviction was invalid in any way. Rather, we simply
recognized that the sentence
imposed for the 1996 conviction was illegal, and we addressed
whether that sentence could be corrected after it had
expired. Contrary to Lanier's apparent belief, the
legality or illegality of a sentence has no bearing
whatsoever on the validity of the underlying conviction.
Because Lanier's 1996 conviction has not been set aside
or reversed, it was properly used to enhance his sentences
for his 2011 convictions, and Lanier's claim to the
contrary is meritless.
32.7(d), Ala. R. Crim. P., authorizes the circuit court to
summarily dismiss a petitioner's Rule 32 petition
"[i]f the court determines that the petition is not
sufficiently specific, or is precluded, or fails to state a
claim, or that no material issue of fact or law exists
which would entitle the petitioner to relief under this
rule and that no purpose would be served by any further
See also Hannon v. State, 861 So.2d 426, 427
(Ala.Crim.App. 2003); Cogman v. State, 852 So.2d
191, 193 (Ala.Crim.App. 2002); Tatum v. State, 607
So.2d 383, 384 (Ala.Crim.App. 1992). Summary disposition is
also appropriate when the petition is obviously without merit
or where the record directly refutes a Rule 32
petitioner's claim. See Shaw v. State, 148 So.3d
745, 765 (Ala.Crim.App. 2013). Because ...