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Scott v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

April 11, 2019

RICKY LEE SCOTT PETITIONER
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS RESPONDENT

          PETITIONER'S PRO SE FIFTH MOTION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS; MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL; AND MOTION FOR LEAVE TO REPLY TO STATE'S RESPONSE TO MOTION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS. [CROSS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO. 19CR-96-61]

          Ricky Lee Scott, pro se petitioner.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Darnisa Evans Johnson, Deputy Att'y Gen., for respondent.

          KAREN R. BAKER, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE

         On April 27, 2018, petitioner, Ricky Lee Scott, filed his fifth pro se petition requesting permission to proceed with a petition for writ of error coram nobis in the trial court; he also filed a motion for appointment of counsel. On May 7, the State responded to Scott's petition. On May 29, Scott (1) filed a motion for leave to file a reply to the State's response; (2) tendered his reply; and (3) filed a second amended reply to the State's response. On August 30, Scott filed a third amended reply to the State's response, and on October 12, he filed a fourth amended reply to the State's response.

         I. Nature of the Writ

         The petition for leave to proceed in the trial court 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. Coram nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid. Green v. State, 2016 Ark. 386, 502 S.W.3d 524; Westerman v. State, 2015 Ark. 69, 456 S.W.3d 374; Roberts v. State, 2013 Ark. 56, 425 S.W.3d 771. 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, 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, 2013 Ark. 56, 425 S.W.3d 771. It is the petitioner's burden to show that a writ of error coram nobis is warranted. This burden is a heavy one because a writ of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy. Jackson v. State, 2017 Ark. 195, 520 S.W.3d 242.

         II. Grounds for the Writ

         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. This court will grant permission to proceed with a petition for the writ only when it appears that, looking to the reasonableness of the allegations of the proposed petition and the existence of the probability of the truth of those allegations, the proposed attack on the judgment is meritorious. Isom v. State, 2015 Ark. 225, 462 S.W.3d 662. Additionally, reassertion of the same claims without sufficient facts to distinguish the claims from those raised in a previous coram nobis petition is an abuse of the writ and subjects the petition to dismissal. Jackson, 2017 Ark. 195, 520 S.W.3d 242; see also United States v. Camacho-Bordes, 94 F.3d 1168 (8th Cir. 1996) (holding that res judicata did not apply to bar a second petition for writ of error coram nobis, but abuse-of-writ doctrine was applied to subsume res judicata). Due process does not require this court to entertain an unlimited number of petitions to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis in a particular case. This court has the discretion to determine whether the renewal of a petitioner's application for the writ will be permitted to go forward even if there are additional facts in support of repetitive grounds. Chatmon v. State, 2017 Ark. 229.

         Further, Scott invokes Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), as a ground for the writ and claims that government action violated his due process rights. The mere fact that a petitioner alleges a Brady violation is not sufficient to provide a basis for the writ. Wallace v. State, 2018 Ark. 164, 545 S.W.3d 767; see also Penn v. State, 282 Ark. 571, 670 S.W.2d 426 (1984) (a mere naked allegation that a constitutional right has been invaded will not suffice to warrant coram nobis relief). To establish a Brady violation, the petitioner must satisfy three elements: (1) the evidence at issue must be favorable to the accused, either because it is exculpatory or because it is impeaching; (2) that evidence must have been suppressed by the State, either willfully or inadvertently; (3) prejudice must have ensued. Howard, 2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38.

         III. Background

         In 1998, the Cross County Circuit Court convicted Scott of first-degree murder and sentenced him to a term of life imprisonment, which we affirmed in Scott v. State, 337 Ark. 320, 322, 989 S.W.2d 891, 892 (1999). On direct appeal, we summarized the facts as follows: Scott was arrested on March 5, 1996, for the murder of fifteen-year-old Robert Smith, which had occurred the previous day at the home of Smith's aunt. The evidence showed that Smith and four other persons were in the driveway changing a tire on his aunt's car when Scott went around to the side of the house and began firing a gun. Several eyewitnesses identified Scott as the person who shot Smith. Scott was tried and convicted on March 11, 1998, more than two years after his arrest. Before the court in this case is Scott's fifth petition seeking permission to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to pursue his claim of writ of error coram nobis alleging prosecutorial misconduct.

         IV. Current Petition and Factual Allegations

         In his petition, Scott requests permission to reinvest jurisdiction in the circuit court to file a petition for writ of error coram nobis alleging that there was prosecutorial misconduct committed by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Boeckmann. Scott asserts that he was prosecuted because he refused Boeckmann's sexual advances. Scott further contends ...


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