Paul M. GORDON, Appellant
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee
Rehearing Denied January 9, 2020
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
APPEAL FROM THE HOT SPRING COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT; PRO SE
MOTIONS TO MODIFY AND SEAL RECORD AND TO FILE BELATED BRIEF
[NO. 30CR-10-261], HONORABLE CHRIS E WILLIAMS, JUDGE
M. Gordon, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Brad Newman, Asst Atty Gen., for
RAE HUDSON, Associate Justice
Appellant Paul M. Gordon appeals the denial of his pro se
petition for writ of error coram nobis filed in the trial
court. After the appeal was briefed, Gordon filed a motion in
which he sought to modify the record by removing portions
that he alleges the trial court incorrectly considered and to
seal the record because it includes documents that fully name
the victims without redaction. Gordon additionally filed a
motion in which he sought permission to file a belated reply
brief. We deny his motion to modify and seal the record.
Gordon fails to provide an adequate basis to remove any of
the documents from the record or to seal it. Because
not demonstrate that the trial court abused its discretion in
declining to issue the writ, we affirm, and Gordons request
to file a belated reply brief is moot.
of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy.
Wooten v. State, 2018 Ark. 198, 547 S.W.3d 683.
Coram nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption
that the judgment of conviction is valid. Id. 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 circuit
court and that, through no negligence or fault of the
defendant, was not brought forward before rendition of the
judgment. Id. The writ is issued only under
compelling circumstances to achieve justice and to address
errors of the most fundamental nature. Wade v.
State, 2019 Ark. 196, 575 S.W.3d 552. It is available to
address errors 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. Wooten, 2018 Ark. 198, 547 S.W.3d 683. The
petitioner must state a factual basis to support his or her
allegations of error— and not simply rely on conclusory
allegations— in order to state a cause of action that
would support issuance of the writ. See
Alexander v. State, 2019 Ark. 171');">2019 Ark. 171, 575 S.W.3d 401.
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.
Bryant v. State, 2019 Ark. 183, 575 S.W.3d 547. An
abuse of discretion occurs when the court acts arbitrarily or
groundlessly. Id. There is no abuse of discretion in
the denial of error coram nobis relief when the claims in the
petition were groundless. Id. A hearing is not
required if the petition clearly has no merit, either because
it fails to state a cause of action to support issuance of
the writ or because it is clear from the petition that the
petitioner did not act with due diligence. Ramirez v.
State, 2018 Ark. 32, 536 S.W.3d 614.
2011, Gordon entered a negotiated plea of guilty to three
counts of rape, and he received consecutive sentences of 420
months imprisonment on each count for an aggregate sentence
of 1260 months imprisonment. After entering the plea, Gordon
filed a petition under Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure
37.1 (2018) that the trial court found was untimely filed.
This court granted a motion to dismiss the appeal of that
order by per curiam order on January 24, 2013. In his 2017
coram nobis petition, Gordon alleged that he was mentally
ill when he entered his plea and that the plea was coerced
because he was suffering from depression. He alleged that
pursuit of the writ had been delayed by his mental illness
and that once he regained competence, he filed the petition.