APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO.
04CR-08-1239] HONORABLE BRAD KARREN, JUDGE
Olajuwon Smith, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jacob H. Jones, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
F. WYNNE, Associate Justice
November 2013, judgment was entered reflecting that appellant
Olajuwon Smith had entered a plea of guilty to multiple
felony offenses. He was sentenced
to an aggregate term of 480 months' imprisonment.
Imposition of an additional 120 months' imprisonment was
suspended. On January 21, 2014, Smith filed in the trial
court a pro se petition for postconviction relief pursuant to
Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1 (2013) that was
dismissed. On January 31, 2014, he filed a second petition
under the Rule that was denied on February 14, 2014. Smith
appealed to this court from the February 14, 2014 order, and
we affirmed. Smith v. State, 2015 Ark. 23, 454
S.W.3d 219 (per curiam).
February 27, 2015, Smith filed in the trial court a pro se
petition for writ of error coram nobis. It does not appear
that the February 27, 2015 coram nobis petition was acted on
by the court, but on January 6, 2016, he filed a second such
petition in which he repeated the claims for the writ that
were raised in the first petition. The second petition was
denied on October 21, 2016, and Smith brings this appeal.
standard of review of an order entered by the trial court on
a petition for writ of error coram nobis is whether the trial
court abused its discretion in granting or denying the writ.
Newman v. State, 2014 Ark. 7. An abuse of
discretion occurs when the court acts arbitrarily or
groundlessly. Nelson v. State, 2014 Ark. 91, 431
S.W.3d 852. The trial court's findings of fact,
on which it bases its decision to grant or deny the petition
for writ of error coram nobis, will not be reversed on appeal
unless they are clearly erroneous or clearly against the
preponderance of the evidence. Newman, 2014 Ark. 7.
There is no abuse of discretion in the denial of error coram
nobis relief when the claims in the petition were groundless.
Nelson, 2014 Ark. 91, 431 S.W.3d 852.
of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy.
State v. Larimore, 341 Ark. 397, 17 S.W.3d 87
(2000). 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
trial court and which, through no negligence or fault of the
defendant, was not brought forward before rendition of the
judgment. Newman v. State, 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.
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
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. Howard v.
State, 2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38. Error coram nobis
proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the
judgment of conviction is valid. Nelson, 2014 Ark.
91, at 3, 431 S.W.3d 852, 854.
raised the following grounds for issuance of the writ: his
guilty plea was obtained by coercion and intimidation; and
the prosecution violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S.
83 (1963). A Brady violation is established when
material evidence favorable to the defense is wrongfully
withheld by the State. Scott v. State, 2017 Ark.
first note that Smith's brief in this appeal contains
claims for relief that were not included in his coram nobis
petition and has added substantiation to bolster the claims
that were raised below. We do not address new arguments
raised for the first time on appeal or consider factual
substantiation added to bolster the allegations made below.
See Stover v. State, 2017 Ark. 66, 511 S.W.3d 333.
When reviewing the trial court's ruling on a coram nobis
petition on appeal, the appellant is limited to the scope and
nature of the arguments that he or she made below that were
considered by the trial court in rendering its ruling.
See id. For that reason, we limit our consideration
in this appeal to those claims, and any factual support for
those claims, that were contained in the petition filed by
Smith in the trial court on January 6, 2016.
respect to Smith's allegation that he was coerced into
entering his plea of guilty, to prevail on a claim that a
writ of error coram nobis is warranted because a plea was
coerced, the petitioner bears the burden of establishing that
the plea was the result of fear, duress, or threats of mob
violence as previously recognized by this court as grounds
for a finding of coercion. Green v. State, 2016 Ark.
386, 502 S.W.3d 524. Smith based his claim of coercion on the
fact that he was informed at a pretrial hearing that he would
be required to wear a "kidney belt" under his
clothing at trial and that the kidney belt could deliver a
substantial electric shock if activated.
in the record in this appeal is the transcript of a pretrial
hearing in which the court directed that Smith be permitted
to change into civilian clothes before being transported to
the courthouse for trial, that he was not to be shackled, and
that he wear the kidney belt under his clothing because he
had a history of violence and the guards transporting him
should be protected. Smith argued in his coram nobis petition
that the court's graphic description to him of the
effects of being shocked intimidated him and frightened him
into entering a plea of guilty. He further alleged in his
petition, as he does in this appeal, that the trial court
specifically threatened to activate the kidney belt if Smith
raised certain issues at trial.
trial court did not err in finding that Smith had not
demonstrated that a writ of error coram nobis should be
issued. Smith's allegations that his plea was coerced did
not rise to the level of coercion to warrant issuance of the
writ, which we have held is a compulsion of a free agent by
physical, moral, or economic force or threat of physical
force. See White v. State, 2015 Ark. 151, at 5, 460
S.W.3d 285, 288. Smith presented no facts to establish that
he had been threatened that the belt would be activated if he
chose to go to trial and ...