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Hunt v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

October 24, 2019

Stanley Ray HUNT II, Petitioner
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Respondent

Page 600

          PRO SE PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS [FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO. 23CR-13-186]

          Stanley Ray Hunt II, pro se petitioner.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Joseph Karl Luebke, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for respondent.

         OPINION

         ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice

          The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed petitioner Stanley Ray Hunt II’s convictions for three counts of rape and his sentence to an aggregate term of 480 months’ imprisonment.

Page 601

Hunt v. State, 2015 Ark.App. 53, 454 S.W.3d 771. Hunt filed a petition in this court in which he requests this court’s permission to proceed in the trial court with a petition for a writ of error coram nobis to challenge the convictions. 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. Jackson v. State, 2018 Ark. 227, 549 S.W.3d 356. Hunt does not provide a meritorious basis for issuance of the writ in his petition, and we deny the petition.

          Hunt was convicted of raping his niece, who was fourteen years old when she first reported the abuse to her school principal and vice-principal. Hunt’s proposed bases for issuance of the writ are not completely clear, but Hunt’s claims appear to turn on allegations that the prosecution withheld evidence of specific dates on which the victim stated the rapes occurred. He alleges these dates were listed on an incident report made by the school officials to police officers. Hunt also complains that there are discrepancies in the dates of the crimes in the information and amended information charging him, the prosecuting attorney’s probable-cause affidavit, a detective’s report, and the school-incident report. He seems to contend this was trial error and that the prosecution made false statements because the victim had given specific dates in the incident report.

         Hunt further asserts that he was incarcerated during a portion of the date range given for the rapes and that there were violations of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), arising from the prosecution withholding the school-incident report and because information about his incarceration in 2007 was withheld from the jury. Hunt contends that he was prejudiced as a result, that his attorney aided in the commission of the Brady violations by stating that no specific date was alleged when the school-incident report indicated a specific date range and time for the crimes, and that there was trial error in the admission of "false" evidence.

          We will reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider error coram nobis relief only when the proposed attack on the judgment is meritorious, and in making this determination, we look to the reasonableness of the allegations in the petition and to the probability of the truth thereof. Davis v. State, 2019 Ark. 172, 574 S.W.3d 666. A writ of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy, and coram nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid. Martin v. State, 2019 Ark. 167, 574 S.W.3d 661. 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 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. Id. The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a fundamental error of fact extrinsic to the record. Id.

          Hunt’s claims of trial error do not provide a basis for the writ. The writ is only ...


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