APPEAL FROM THE MILLER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 46CR-96-200. HONORABLE KIRK D. JOHNSON, JUDGE.
Billy V. Wilburn, Pro se appellant.
Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: LeaAnn J. Adams, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
In 1996, appellant Billy V. Wilburn entered a plea of guilty to three counts of rape and one count of first-degree sexual abuse. He was sentenced to serve an aggregate sentence of 480 months' imprisonment for the three rape convictions. A sentence of 120 months' imprisonment was imposed for the sexual-abuse conviction, with all sentences to run concurrently.
In 2013, appellant filed in the trial court a pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis. The petition was denied on the grounds that the petition was without merit and that the claims in it were not brought with due diligence. Appellant brings this appeal.
Appellant contended in his petition that was entitled to a writ of error coram nobis on the following grounds: his plea was coerced in that it was not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered because he was not properly advised by the trial court or his attorney of the charges and his rights; he did not understand the plea statement because it was not properly explained to him; he is mildly mentally retarded and could not understand the proceedings and could not assist in his own defense. On appeal, appellant argues only that the trial court erred in accepting the opinion of one psychiatrist as to his competence and that he was coerced by his attorney and the victim's family into pleading guilty. To the extent that appellant fails to raise on appeal any of the issues raised in the coram-nobis petition, the omitted issues 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 ...