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Schrader v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

September 18, 2014

CHARLES SCHRADER, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

APPEAL fro THE GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 28CR-10-31. HONORABLE BARBARA HALSEY, JUDGE.

Paul J. Teufel, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Laura Shue, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

OPINION

PER CURIAM

In 2011, appellant Charles Schrader entered a plea of guilty to three counts of rape. He was sentenced by a jury to serve three consecutive terms of life imprisonment. In 2013, appellant filed in the

Page 2

trial court a petition for writ of error coram nobis, declaratory relief, and, in the alternative, for writ of habeas corpus. The trial court denied appellant's petition, and appellant brings this appeal.

On appeal, appellant argues only that he is entitled to a writ of error coram nobis; accordingly, it is that claim that will be considered in this appeal. Issues argued below but not argued on appeal are considered abandoned. Springs v. State, 2012 Ark. 87, 387 S.W.3d 143.

The standard of review of a denial of a petition for writ of error coram nobis is whether the circuit court abused its discretion in denying the writ. Nelson v. State, 2014 Ark. 91, 431 S.W.3d 852; McClure v. State, 2013 Ark. 306 (per curiam); Lee v. State, 2012 Ark. 401 (per curiam). An abuse of discretion occurs when the circuit court acts arbitrarily or groundlessly. Nelson, 2014 Ark. 91, 431 S.W.3d 852; McClure, 2013 Ark. 306.

A writ of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy more known for its denial than its approval. Cromeans v. State, 2013 Ark. 273 (per curiam). Coram-nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid. Greene v. State, 2013 Ark. 251 (per curiam). The function of the writ is to secure relief from a judgment rendered while there existed some fact that would have prevented its rendition if it had been known to the circuit court and which, through no negligence or fault of the defendant, was not brought forward before rendition of the judgment. Id. The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a fundamental error of fact extrinsic to the record. Burks v. State, 2013 Ark. 188 (per curiam).

The writ is allowed only under compelling circumstances to achieve justice and to address errors of the most fundamental nature. Cromeans, 2013 Ark. 273. We have held that a writ of error coram nobis is available to address certain errors that are found in one of four categories: (1) insanity at the time of trial, (2) a coerced guilty plea, (3) material evidence withheld by the prosecutor, or (4) a third-party confession to the crime during the time between conviction and appeal. Greene, 2013 Ark. 251.

Appellant argues on appeal, as he did in his coram-nobis petition, that the writ should issue on the ground that he was not afforded effective assistance of counsel with respect to a plea bargain that was offered to him. He explains that he did not raise the claim under our postconviction rule, Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1, because the grounds for the allegation did not become available to him until the United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions in 2012 concerning plea bargains, Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S., 132 S.Ct. 1399, 182 L.Ed.2d 379 (2012) and Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S., 132 S.Ct. 1376, 182 L.Ed.2d 398 (2012). Appellant's time to pursue postconviction relief under Rule 37.1 lapsed in 2011 in that, pursuant to Rule 37.2(c), when a petitioner entered a plea of guilty, a petition must be filed within ninety days of the date that the judgment was entered-of-record. Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.2(c)(i) (2011). The time limitations imposed in Rule 37.2(c) are jurisdictional in nature, and, if they are not met, the trial court lacks jurisdiction to grant postconviction relief. Ussery v. State, 2014 Ark. 186 (per curiam).

Appellant urges this court to find that his plea of guilty was coerced on the grounds that he was originally offered a plea ...


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