[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTH
DIVISION [NO. 60CR-07-4847], HONORABLE BARRY SIMS, JUDGE
Malone, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Asst Atty Gen., for
A. WOMACK, Associate Justice
Appellant Ralph Malone appeals from the trial courts denial
of his pro se petition for a writ of error coram nobis.
Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion in
denying coram nobis relief, we affirm.
2009, Malone pleaded guilty to one count of rape and was
sentenced to 180 months imprisonment. In his petition,
Malone alleged that his guilty plea was the result of fraud
and coercion, in that the terms of the plea agreement were
changed after Malone had signed it. Specifically, Malone
contended below and argues on appeal that the plea agreement
that he attached to his petition shows that the charge to
which he was pleading guilty had been changed from
first-degree sexual assault to rape. Malone further asserted
that his trial counsel coerced him into "answering
loudly and affirmatively" during the plea hearing.
Malone insists he did not understand that the charge had been
trial court denied the petition as failing to state a
cognizable claim for the issuance of the writ of coram nobis
and noted that a review of the plea-hearing transcript
demonstrated that the prosecutor amended the charge to rape
in open court and provided the range of punishment for the
offense. The court further noted that Malone
unequivocally pleaded guilty to the charge of rape and did so
knowingly and intelligently.
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.
Osburn v. State, 2018 Ark. 341, 560 S.W.3d 774. An
abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court acts
arbitrarily or groundlessly. Id. The trial courts
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 those findings are clearly
erroneous or clearly against the preponderance of the
of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy, and
proceedings for the writ are attended by a strong presumption
that the judgment of conviction is valid. Jackson v.
State, 2018 Ark. 227, 549 S.W.3d 356. 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.
Id. The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a
fundamental error of fact extrinsic to the record.
Id. It is the petitioners 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 allowed only
under compelling circumstances to achieve justice and to
address errors of the most fundamental nature.
Rayford v. State,
2018 Ark. 183, 546 S.W.3d 475. 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