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Hooper v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

March 12, 2015

DANNY LEE HOOPER, PETITIONER
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, RESPONDENT

SECOND PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE CIRCUIT COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS, [WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO. 72CR-05-761].

PETITION DENIED.

OPINION

Page 230

PRO SE

PER CURIAM

In 2005, petitioner Danny Lee Hooper was found guilty by a jury of three counts of rape, kidnapping, robbery, residential burglary, and third-degree battery and sentenced as a habitual offender to an aggregate sentence of 1,320 months' imprisonment. The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed, noting that evidence was adduced at trial, which included the victim's testimony and DNA testing, that petitioner had entered the victim's house at night and engaged in vaginal and anal intercourse with her. Hooper v. State, CR-05-1381 (Ark.App. Aug. 30, 2006) (unpublished). Subsequently, petitioner filed in the trial court a timely petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1 (2005). The petition was denied. Petitioner appealed from the order to this court, and we dismissed the appeal as it was clearly without merit. Hooper v. State, CR-07-816, (Ark. Nov. 29, 2007) (unpublished per curiam).

In 2013, petitioner filed in this court a petition and an amended petition requesting that this court reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court so that he could proceed with a petition for writ of error coram nobis. We denied the relief sought. Hooper v. State, 2014 Ark. 16 (per curiam).

On January 14, 2015, petitioner filed a second petition in this court to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The second petition and a subsequent

Page 231

amendment to it are now before us. We find no basis stated in the petition to warrant issuance of the writ and thus deny leave to proceed in the trial court.

A petition for leave to proceed in the trial court is necessary because the circuit court can entertain a petition for writ of error coram nobis after a judgment has been affirmed on appeal only after we grant permission. Chestang v. State, 2014 Ark. 477 (per curiam); Charland v. State, 2013 Ark. 452 (per curiam); Cromeans v. State, 2013 Ark. 273 (per curiam). This court will grant such permission only when it appears the proposed attack on the judgment is meritorious. Echols v. State, 354 Ark. 414, 418, 125 S.W.3d 153, 156 (2003). In making such a determination, we look to the reasonableness of the allegations of the petition and to the existence of the probability of the truth thereof. Id.

A writ of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy, more known for its denial than its approval. Cromeans, 2013 Ark. 273; Howard v. State, 2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38. The writ is allowed only under compelling circumstances to achieve justice and to address errors of the most fundamental nature. McDaniels v. State, 2012 Ark. 465 (per curiam). We have held that a writ of error coram nobis is available to address certain errors that are found in one of four categories: insanity at the time of trial, a coerced guilty plea, material evidence withheld by the prosecutor, or a third-party confession to the crime during the time between conviction and appeal. Charland, 2013 Ark. 452; Cromeans, 2013 Ark. 273; Pitts v. State, 336 Ark. 580,986 S.W.2d 407 (1999) (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 judgment. Mooney v. State, 2014 Ark. 453, 447 S.W.3d 121 (per curiam); Cloird v. State, 2011 Ark. 303 (per curiam). The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a fundamental error of fact extrinsic to the record. Williams v. State, 2011 Ark. 541 (per curiam). Coram-nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid. Roberts v. State, 2013 Ark. 56, 425 S.W.3d 771; Carter v. State, .2012 Ark. 186 (per curiam); Penn v. State, 282 Ark. 571, 670 S.W.2d 426 (1984) (citing Troglin v. State, 257 Ark. 644, 519 S.W.2d 740 (1975)).

As he did in his original petition to this court, petitioner argues as grounds for the writ that he was incompetent at the time of trial and was denied his right to present an insanity defense by his attorney's ineffectiveness and the failure of the State and others to reveal certain medical reports. Petitioner attributes his impaired intellectual functioning to a gunshot wound to the head that he suffered some years before trial and an accident on an all-terrain motor vehicle. He alleges that he now has newly discovered evidence to support his claims for the writ that is contained in those newly acquired medical records pertaining to the effects of the injuries, particularly the gunshot injury. He contends that the psychiatrist, Dr. Robin Ross, who conducted a pretrial examination on him, had some medical ...


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