SHEQUITA L. JOINER PETITIONER
STATE OF ARKANSAS RESPONDENT
PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO
CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS [COLUMBIA
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO. 14CR-06-211]
COURTNEY RAE HUDSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Shequita L. Joiner was convicted by a Columbia County Circuit
Court jury of aggravated robbery and theft of property for
which she was sentenced to an aggregate term of 480
months' imprisonment. The Arkansas Court of Appeals
affirmed. Joiner v. State, CACR-08-151 (Ark. App.
June 18, 2008) (unpublished). Petitioner now brings this pro
se petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court so
that she may file a petition for writ of error coram in her
criminal case. Joiner contends that she was represented by a
public defender who was the brother-in-law of the prosecutor
in her case, which resulted in a conflict of interest; that
the lead investigator in the case, who "is part of the
prosecutor team[, ]" withheld material evidence from the
jury; and the prosecutor misrepresented the testimony of a
witness who should have been charged as an accomplice.
Because we find that Joiner's claims do not establish a
ground for the writ, the petition is denied.
Nature of the Writ
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. A writ of error
coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy. State v.
Larimore, 341 Ark. 397, 17 S.W.3d 87 (2000). 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. 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 v. State, 2013 Ark. 56, 425 S.W.3d
771. We are not required to accept the allegations in a
petition for writ of error coram nobis at face value.
Jackson v. State, 2017 Ark. 195, 520 S.W.3d 242.
Grounds for the Writ
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.
Claims for Issuance of the Writ
Conflict of Interest
contends there was a conflict of interest between her trial
counsel and the prosecutor because they were related, as
brothers-in-law, in violation of Rule 1.8(1) of the Arkansas
Rules of Professional Conduct. The claim is not one that falls
within the recognized categories for coram nobis relief and
does not otherwise provide a basis for issuance of this
extraordinary writ. See generally Smith v. State,
2018 Ark. 396, 562 S.W.3d 211. With regard to claims
involving counsel operating under a conflict of interest, we
have held that those are ineffective-assistance-of-counsel
claims, which are outside the purview of a coram nobis
proceeding. Nelson v. State, 2014 Ark. 91, 431
Claims Involving Lead Investigator
further contends that the lead investigator, Truman Young,
withheld material evidence from the jury. Specifically,
Joiner argues that (1) Young failed to let the jury know that
Rachel Cole, an accomplice, had threatened Darlene Mask,
another witness, because she had told the police about the
robbery; (2) that he failed to tell the jury that Cole
admitted committing the robbery and that was her reason for
threatening Mask; (3) that he failed to tell the jury that
the State's witnesses' testimony was contradicted by
the physical evidence and the evidence was purely
circumstantial; and (4) that he failed to the tell the jury
he knew Joiner did not possess a sawed-off shotgun, did not
know the location of the Lakeside Water Association, and
could not have be able to plan and carry out the robbery.
Joiner's claims fail to establish a Brady v.
Maryland violation. 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
It is a
violation of Brady, and a ground for the writ, if
the defense was prejudiced because the State wrongfully
withheld evidence from the defense prior to trial. Mosley
v. State, 2018 Ark. 152, 544 S.W.3d 55. The Court held
in Brady that "the suppression by the
prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request
violates due process where the evidence is material to guilt
or punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of
the prosecution." 373 U.S. at 87. There are three
elements of a Brady violation: (1) the evidence at
issue must be favorable to the accused, either because it is
exculpatory or because it is impeaching; (2) the evidence
must have been suppressed by the State, either willfully or
inadvertently; and (3) prejudice must have ensued.
Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263 (1999). When
determining whether a Brady violation has occurred,
it must first be established by the petitioner that the
material was available to the State prior to trial and the
defense did not have it. Mosley, 2018 Ark. 152, 544
claims as raised by Joiner regarding evidence withheld by
Young are ones in which she contends that evidence was
withheld from the jury-not the defense-which do not establish
a Brady violation. Joiner has failed to demonstrate
that the State withheld evidence, that the defense ...