APPEAL FROM THE LONOKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 43CR-97-9]
HONORABLE JASON ASHLEY PARKER, JUDGE
Stocks, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Vada Berger, Sr. Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
RHONDAK.WOOD, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Carlton Stocks appeals the circuit court's denial of his
pro se petition for a writ of error coram nobis and audita
querela. Stocks, who entered a guilty plea in 1997
to three counts of capital murder in the deaths of his family
members, raises multiple grounds for relief. Because Stocks
has not established grounds for issuance of the writ, we
Nature of the Writ
review a circuit court's denial of a petition for writ of
error coram nobis for abuse of discretion. Newman v.
State, 2014 Ark. 7. A court abuses its discretion when
it acts arbitrarily or groundlessly. Nelson v.
State, 2014 Ark. 91, 431 S.W.3d 852. A writ of error
coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy. State v.
Larimore, 341 Ark. 397, 17 S.W.3d 87 (2000). The
function of the writ is to secure relief from a judgment when
there existed some fact that would have prevented its
rendition if it had been known to the circuit court and that,
through no negligence or fault of the defendant, was not
brought forward before judgment. Newman v. State,
2009 Ark. 539, 354 S.W.3d 61. It is the petitioner's
burden to demonstrate a fundamental error of fact extrinsic
to the record. Roberts v. State, 2013 Ark. 56, 425
S.W.3d 771. The trial court is not required to hold a hearing
on a clearly non-meritorious coram nobis petition.
Griffin v. State, 2018 Ark. 10, 535 S.W.3d 261.
writ is allowed only under compelling circumstances to
achieve justice and to address errors of the most fundamental
nature. Dednam v. State, 2019 Ark. 8, 564 S.W.3d
259. A writ of error coram nobis is available to address the
following errors: (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. Error coram nobis
proceedings are attended by a "strong presumption"
that the judgment of conviction is valid. Nelson,
2014 Ark. 91, at 3, 431 S.W.3d at 854.
Stocks's Claims for Relief
appeal, Stocks reasserts his multiple claims for coram nobis
relief. He alleges that the circuit court was biased and
exceeded its jurisdiction by failing to conduct either a
competency hearing or a guilty-plea hearing. Second,
Stock's contends that the State committed a
Brady violation by (1) failing to disclose that an
investigator had provided Charles "Jack" Walls III
with a copy of the case file and that Walls had used the
information to manipulate members of Stocks's family into
pressuring Stocks to plead guilty; (2) allowing Reverend
Markle to speak to Stocks and by withholding information that
Stocks's mother had told Reverend Markle about
Walls's sexual abuse; (3) delaying Walls's
prosecution until after Stocks had pleaded guilty; (4)
withholding evidence of Walls's "mind control"
over Stocks; (5) withholding mitigating evidence of
Walls's long-term sexual abuse of Stocks; and (6)
withholding other mitigating and exculpatory evidence.
addition, Stocks asserts several claims regarding his mental
competency. He claims that he was suffering from a mental
defect when he pled guilty; that his counsel was ineffective
for advising him not to cooperate with the court-ordered
mental evaluation; and that the evaluating physicians failed
to consider a previous mental evaluation. Lastly, he contends
that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct by failing to
disclose the prosecutor's relationship with Walls's
argued at trial and reasserts on appeal that the circuit
court was biased by failing to hold a competency hearing and
a plea hearing in compliance with Rules 24.4, 24.6, and 24.7
of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. The mere fact that some
rulings are adverse to the appellant is not enough to
demonstrate judicial bias. Brown v. State, 2012 Ark.
399, 424 S.W.3d 288. Stocks's dissatisfaction with the
circuit court's decisions with respect to those hearings
and how they were conducted does not constitute a showing of
extrinsic evidence that would have produced a different
result. Martinez-Marmol v. State, 2018 Ark. 145, 544
S.W.3d 49. Rather than an issue of judicial bias, Stocks has
raised an issue of trial error. Assertions of trial error
that could have been raised at trial are not within the
purview of a coram nobis proceeding. Key v. State,
2019 Ark. 202, 3, 575 S.W.3d 554.