Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

French v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

December 12, 2019

TRACY FRENCH APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          PRO SE APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72CR-06-1873] HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE

          Tracy French, pro se appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice

         Appellant Tracy French appeals an order entered by the trial court on December 14, 2018, dismissing an in forma pauperis petition to proceed with a pro se petition for a writ of error coram nobis and a motion for appointment of counsel on the basis that French failed to state a colorable cause of action. French argued that the writ should issue and the judgment be vacated in his criminal case because he was coerced into pleading guilty due to inadequate advice regarding an available sentencing option when he entered his guilty plea and that material evidence was withheld by the State in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). As French has failed to demonstrate that the trial court abused its discretion in declining to grant the relief sought, the order is affirmed.[1]

         I. History

         In 2006, French entered a negotiated plea of guilty to raping his daughter on multiple occasions, and a sentence of 360 months' imprisonment was imposed. In 2017, French filed in the trial court the three pleadings referenced above, all relating to his request for a writ of error coram nobis. As stated, the court dismissed the pleadings for failure to state a colorable claim for the issuance of a writ of error coram nobis. A colorable cause of action is a claim that is legitimate and may reasonably be asserted given the facts presented and the current law or a reasonable and logical extension or modification of it. Morgan v. Kelley, 2019 Ark. 189, 575 S.W.3d 108.

         II. Standard of Review

         Our standard of review of a decision to grant or deny a petition to proceed in forma pauperis is abuse of discretion, and the circuit court's factual findings in support of its exercise of discretion will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous. Id. An abuse of discretion occurs when the court acts arbitrarily or groundlessly. Nelson v. State, 2014 Ark. 91, 431 S.W.3d 852. The same standard of review is applicable to coram nobis petitions, and there is no abuse of discretion in the denial of error coram nobis relief when the claims in the petition were groundless. Osburn v. State, 2018 Ark. 341, 560 S.W.3d 774.

         III. Nature of the Remedy

         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 rendered while there existed some fact that would have prevented its rendition if it had been known to the trial court and that, through no negligence or fault of the defendant, was not brought forward before rendition of the judgment. Newman v. State, 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.

         The 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 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. 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.

         While Brady violations come within the purview of coram nobis relief, the fact that a petitioner alleges a Brady violation is not, in itself, sufficient to provide a basis for the writ. Wallace v. State, 2018 Ark. 164, 545 S.W.3d 767. 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; (3) prejudice must have ensued. Carner v. State, 2018 Ark. 20, 535 S.W.3d 634

         IV. With ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.