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Grant v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

February 25, 2016

ABRAHAM GRANT, PETITIONER
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, RESPONDENT

Page 273

          PHILLIPS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, 54CR-01-272.

          OPINION

Page 274

          FIFTH PRO SE PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS

         PER CURIAM

         In 2003, petitioner Abraham Grant was found guilty by a jury of capital murder in the shooting death of Rosetta Pittman and first-degree battery in the wounding of Louise Perry. An aggregate sentence of life imprisonment without parole was imposed. We affirmed. Grant v. State, 357 Ark. 91, 161 S.W.3d 785 (2004).

         In 2007, Grant filed in the trial court a petition for postconviction relief that was denied, and he appealed to this court. We dismissed the appeal. Grant v. State, CR-07-784, (Ark. Feb. 7, 2008) (unpublished per curiam).

         In 2010, Grant petitioned this court to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court so that he could proceed with a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The petition was denied. Grant v. State, 2010 Ark. 286, 365 S.W.3d 894 (per curiam). In 2014, Grant filed a second such petition, which was also denied. Grant v. State, 2014 Ark. 466 (per curiam). On February 26, 2015, Grant filed his third coram-nobis petition, which was denied. Grant v. State, 2015 Ark. 159 (per curiam). On July 10, 2015, Grant filed a fourth coram-nobis petition. The petition was dismissed as an abuse of the writ because it raised grounds that this court had already addressed when we considered an earlier petition. Grant v. State, 2015 Ark. 323, 469 S.W.3d 356 (per curiam).

         Now before us is Grant's fifth petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The petition for leave to proceed is necessary because the trial court can entertain a petition for writ of error coram nobis after a judgment has been affirmed on appeal only after we grant permission. Newman v. State, 2009 Ark. 539, 354 S.W.3d 61. A writ of error

Page 275

coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy. State v. Larimore, 341 Ark. 397, 17 S.W.3d 87 (2000). Coram-nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid. Id. The function of the writ is to secure relief from a judgment rendered while there existed some fact that would have prevented the judgment's rendition if it had been known to the trial court and which, through no negligence or fault of the defendant, was not brought forward before rendition of the judgment. Newman, 2009 Ark. 539, 354 S.W.3d 61. The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a fundamental error of fact extrinsic to the record. Roberts v. State, 2013 Ark. 56, 425 S.W.3d 771.

         The writ is allowed only under compelling circumstances to achieve justice and to address errors of the most fundamental nature. Id. A writ of error coram nobis is available for addressing 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. Howard v. State, 2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38.

         As grounds for reinvesting jurisdiction in the trial court, Grant alleges that the State did not provide him with information that could have been used by the defense to impeach witness Louise Perry, who was present when the victim was shot and who was wounded when one of the bullets that passed through Pittman's body struck her. The petition is not entirely clear, but it appears that Grant is asserting that the impeachment evidence took the form of alleged coercion by the police that forced Perty to accuse him of being the shooter. He argues that it was a violation of due process of law for him to be convicted by the State's use of Perry's coerced statement when the jury was unaware of the coercion. He further contends that examination of the bullets removed from Pittman and Perry did not produce any evidence that he was the perpetrator, which renders the evidence insufficient to sustain the judgment.

         Grant has not stated a ground for the writ. Perry testified at trial, and her testimony was subject to cross-examination by the defense so that the circumstances under which her pretrial statements were made to police could have been brought out. Grant's allegations concerning Perty's testimony and the failure of the State to produce evidence of his guilt from the examination of the bullets amount to assertions, not that the State concealed evidence from the defense; rather, the evidence adduced at trial did not support a finding of guilt. Issues concerning the sufficiency of the evidence or the credibility of ...


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