JAMES R. GRIFFIN APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT, NO. 16JCR-15-751
PRO SE MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF BRIEF TIME
DAN KEMP, CHIEF JUSTICE.
James R. Griffin, who entered a plea of guilty to rape in
2016, lodged an appeal in this court from the denial by the
trial court of his pro se petition for writ of error coram
nobis. Now before us is Griffin's motion for extension of
brief time. Because it is clear from the record that Griffin
could not prevail on appeal, the appeal is dismissed. See
Justus v. State, 2012 Ark. 91. The dismissal of the
appeal renders the motion moot.
argued in his coram nobis petition that he would not have
entered a guilty plea if he had been properly advised by his
attorney. He argued that he was under duress when the plea
was entered as the result of the poor advice by counsel and
counsel's failure to effectively negotiate a plea
bargain. He further asserted as grounds for the writ that no
rape had occurred. As none of the claims were cognizable as a
ground for the writ, the trial court did not err in denying
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. There is no abuse of discretion in the
denial of error coram nobis relief when the claims in the
petition were groundless. Id.
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 at 854.
respect to Griffin's allegation that he was under duress
when he entered his plea of guilty by virtue of improvident
advice from his attorney, the claim is essentially an
allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel with the
underlying claim that his plea was not entered intelligently
and voluntarily because of the advice he received. The
allegation can only be brought pursuant to Arkansas Rule of
Criminal Procedure 37.1 (2016), not in a petition for writ of
error coram nobis. White v. State, 2015 Ark. 151,
460 S.W.3d 285; see also Nelson, 2014 Ark. 91, 431
S.W.3d 852 (Error coram nobis proceedings are not a
substitute for proceeding under Rule 37.1 to challenge the
validity of a guilty plea, nor are the two proceedings
interchangeable.). Ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims
are not cognizable in error coram nobis proceedings under our
state law, and coram nobis proceedings are not to be used as
a substitute for raising such claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel under our postconviction rule.
State v. Tejeda-Acosta, 2013 Ark. 217, at 8, 427
S.W.3d 673, 678.
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. Griffin did not meet that burden. An allegation that a
guilty plea was coerced in the sense that it was
involuntarily and unknowingly given as a result of erroneous
advice does not constitute showing of a coerced plea within
the scope of a coram nobis proceeding. See White,
2015 Ark. 151, 460 S.W.3d 285.
claim that no rape occurred was a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the judgment. We have
repeatedly held that attacks on the sufficiency of the
evidence are not within the purview of a coram nobis
proceeding. Jackson v. State, 2017 Ark. 195, 520
Griffin contended in his petition that a hearing should be
held on his allegations. The trial court is not required to
hold a hearing on a coram nobis petition if the petition
clearly has no merit. Griffin's petition failed to state
a cause of action to support issuance of the writ;
accordingly, the trial court did not err in denying it
without a hearing.
dismissed; motion moot.