FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CR-14-415]
HONORABLE BRAD KARREN, JUDGE.
Law Firm, by: Lee D. Short, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Joseph Karl Luebke, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE.
Benton County Circuit Court jury convicted appellant Jeran
Kyler Sorum of rape, second-degree sexual assault, and
first-degree computer exploitation of a child. He was
sentenced to an aggregate term of twelve years in prison, and
his conviction was affirmed on appeal. See Sorum v.
State, 2017 Ark. App. 384, 526 S.W.3d 50. This appeal
stems from the trial court's denial of Sorum's
subsequent Rule 37 petition and related motions and the trial
court's decision to strike the subsequent petition. We
September 28, 2017, Sorum filed a ten-page petition for
postconviction relief in which he raised three claims: (1)
trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to
dismiss on double-jeopardy grounds; (2) trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to make a meritorious
directed-verdict motion regarding the offense of computer
exploitation of a child; and (3) trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to argue that rape required the State
to prove sexual gratification in addition to penetration. The
same day, Sorum filed a motion for leave to file an enlarged
Rule 37 petition arguing that the ten-page limit was
insufficient for the additional issues he wished to raise.
The trial court did not rule on the motion.
December 28 Sorum filed an amended, twenty-two-page Rule 37
petition that included two additional issues. On January 30,
2018, the trial court entered an order striking Sorum's
enlarged petition and finding that Sorum filed the overlength
petition without leave of the court. The court concluded that
the strict requirements on the form of a Rule 37.1 petition
are reasonable and proper. The court also found that Rule
37's procedural requirements do not violate due process,
and the petition failed to comply with those requirements.
February 7, Sorum filed a motion for reconsideration of the
motion for leave to file an amended and enlarged petition
[t]he Petitioner has two issues to present in good-faith in
his Rule 37 Petition that were unable to fit within the
ten-page original petition. Those issues regarding accomplice
corroboration and the rape shield hearing are legitimate and
unable to be presented. Those issues can best be seen by
looking at the amended and enlarged Rule 37 Petition and
comparing it with the initial Rule 37 Petition.
trial court denied the motion, reiterating the previous
conclusion that "it is not a violation of
petitioner's due process rights nor is it fundamentally
unfair for this court to adhere to strict requirements on the
form of a Rule 37.1 petition."
April 2, Sorum filed a motion for leave to file an amended
ten-page petition, stating that he had "culled" his
original three arguments and the two additional points he
wished to make. He attached the amended petition to the
motion. The next day, the trial court struck the amended
petition stating that "this court finds no change of
circumstances from the previous ruling of this court as
stated in its order, January 30, 2018, and that the hearing
in this matter on April 27, 2018, will not be continued in
order to allow the State additional time to respond to an
amended petition." The same day, Sorum filed a motion
for reconsideration, asserting that the State "has been
well aware of these additional arguments for months based on
prior pleadings," and he contended that the allotted
response time was only twenty days and that it was
twenty-four days until the hearing.
April 4, the trial court entered an order denying the motion
to reconsider, finding no change of circumstances from the
previous rulings. Additionally, the court prohibited Sorum
from filing any further motions concerning an amended Rule 37
petition. After a hearing the court denied the petition.
Sorum timely filed a notice of appeal.
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
reviewing a trial court's ruling on a Rule 37.1 petition,
we will not reverse the trial court's decision granting
or denying postconviction relief unless it is clearly
erroneous. Kemp v. State, 347 Ark. 52, 55, 60 S.W.3d
404, 406 (2001). A finding is clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, the appellate court
after reviewing the entire evidence is left with the definite
and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.
benchmark question to be resolved in judging a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel is whether counsel's
conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the
adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as
having produced a just result. Norris v. State, 2013
Ark. 205, 427 S.W.3d 626 (per curiam). A Rule 37
petitioner's ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims are
analyzed under the two-prong standard set forth in
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984),
which requires a petitioner to show that his counsel's
representation was deficient, and he suffered prejudice as a
result. "Unless a petitioner makes both showings, it
cannot be said ...