REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2015-CA-001651-MR BOYLE
CIRCUIT COURT NO. 15-CI-00229
ON OTHER GROUNDS
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Timothy G. Arnold
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Courtney J. Hightower
of 2015, Appellant, Durand Edward Murrell, then a prisoner at
the Northpoint Training Center, filed a Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus in the Boyle Circuit Court against Warden Don
1993, a Jefferson Circuit Court sentenced Appellant to a
total of forty-two years' imprisonment for seventeen
counts of first-degree robbery, six counts of second-degree
wanton endangerment of a police officer, and one count each
of third-degree assault of a police officer and first-degree
escape. In 1994, the United States District Court for the
Western District of Kentucky sentenced Appellant to 152
months' incarceration for one count each of armed bank
robbery, use of a firearm in a crime of violence, and
carjacking. Appellant's federal sentence was ordered to
be served consecutively to his state sentence. At the time of
Appellant's federal sentencing, he was in the custody of
the Kentucky Department of Corrections ("DOC").
Consequently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("FBOF')
issued a detainer in order to obtain custody upon
Appellant's release from state custody.
January 18, 2001, the Kentucky Parole Board ("KPB")
paroled Appellant to his federal detainer. Appellant was then
transferred from state custody to federal custody, where he
remained for approximately eleven years. On March 31, 2011,
FBOP notified DOC in writing of its intent to release
Appellant under federal supervision to Dismas Charities of
Louisville Halfway House. On September 12, 2012, Appellant
was released from federal supervision. Appellant immediately
reported to his local Probation and Parole Office and was
placed on active state parole supervision.
October 24, 2013, after obtaining new criminal charges, the
KPB revoked Appellant's parole. Appellant filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Boyle Circuit Court
after exhausting possible administrative remedies.
Appellant's sole ground for his petition was that DOC
permanently surrendered jurisdiction over his sentence when
it transferred custody to Federal authorities in 2001.
Appellee, referring the trial court to Commonwealth v.
Marcum, 873 S.W.2d 207 (Ky. 1994), argued that a writ of
habeas corpus is only appropriate if the judgment of
conviction under which the prisoner is held is void ab
initio. Furthermore, Appellee cited the current version
of Kentucky Revised Statute ("KRS") 439.340(2) to
support his claim that DOC retained jurisdiction over
Appellant's sentence. On June 18, 2015, the Boyle Circuit
Court accepted Appellee's arguments and issued an order
denying Appellant's petition.
January 16, 2016, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial
court's ruling. First, the Court of Appeals cited
Marcum, and held that "[h]abeas corpus relief
is available only for a prisoner who can establish
that the judgment by which he is being detained is void
ab initio." (Emphasis added). Due to
Appellant's inability to demonstrate that his 1993 state
convictions were void, the Court of Appeals believed a habeas
corpus petition was improper. In further support of its
affirmance, the Court of Appeals relied on the current
version of KRS 439.340(2), which states that paroling a
prisoner to another jurisdiction via detainer "shall not
constitute a relinquishment of jurisdiction over the prisoner
. . . ." This Court granted discretionary review.
facts in this case are not in dispute. For that reason, this
Court will conduct a de novo review of the circuit
court's legal conclusions in denying Appellant's
petition for writ of habeas corpus. Commonwealth v.
Gaddie, 239 S.W.3d 59, 61 (Ky. 2007).
of habeas corpus is guaranteed by Section 16 of our Kentucky
Constitution. The right is codified in KRS 419.020, which
reads that "[t]he writ of habeas corpus shall be issued
upon petition on behalf of anyone showing by affidavit
probable cause that he is being detained without lawful
authority or is being imprisoned when by law he is entitled
to bail." It is important to note at this point in our
review that Appellant was granted parole in October of 2016.
Our analysis, however, does not change. This Court previously
acknowledged that the "restraints of parole" are
substantial enough "to require the court to consider the
merits of the habeas corpus petition." Walters v.
Smith, 599 S.W.2d 164, 165 (Ky. 1980) (citing 4
Wharton's Criminal Procedure § 650 (C. Torcia, 12th
void ab initio
Court will first address the trial court's ruling that
Appellant's petition must fail as he did not attack his
underlying convictions. The Court of Appeals upheld this
ruling and stated that "[h]abeas corpus relief is
available only for a prisoner who can establish that
the judgment by which he is being detained is void ab
initio." (Emphasis added). We disagree with both
lower courts. Limiting habeas corpus relief to only those
individuals being detained by a judgment that is void ab
initio is a complete misinterpretation of the law. Our
predecessor Court explained that the "primary
purpose" of habeas corpus relief is to "determine
the legality of the restraint under which a person is
held." _ Walters, 599 S.W.2d at 165 (citing
Vickery v. Lady,264 S.W.2d 683 (Ky. 1953)). In doing
so, this Court has afforded habeas relief to individuals
whose underlying judgment is perfectly valid. Brock v.
Sowders,610 S.W.2d 591 (Ky. 1980) (habeas ...