Rehearing Denied February 6, 2020
APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO.
35CV-19-179], HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE
L. Jefferson, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Jason Michael Johnson, Asst Atty
Gen., for appellee.
K. Wood, Associate Justice
Jefferson appeals the circuit courts denial of his pro se
petition for writ of audita querela and for relief pursuant
to Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 60(k) (2018). Because the
circuit court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.
pleaded guilty in 2004 to one count of first-degree domestic
battery and two counts of second-degree domestic battery. He
was sentenced to an aggregate term of twenty-five years
imprisonment. In 2019, Jefferson filed his petition for writ
of audita querela, contending that the writ was permitted by
Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 60(k). In the petition, he
sought modification of his sentence on the grounds that the
circuit court did not adhere to Arkansas Rule of Criminal
Procedure 24.4 when it accepted his guilty plea because it
failed to inform him of the percentage of time he would need
to serve before becoming eligible for parole. In addition, he
further alleged that (1) the circuit court lacked
jurisdiction; (2) the judgment was invalid because there was
no contra pacem clause in the charging instrument
for each of the three charges and for the declaration that he
was charged as a habitual offender; and (3) the Arkansas
Department of Correction (ADC) has miscalculated his
circuit court treated the petition as a petition for writ of
error coram nobis. Jefferson argues on appeal that the
circuit court did not enter specific findings with respect to
his petition and erroneously considered his petition as a
petition for writ of error coram nobis petition rather than a
petition for writ of audita querela, which is permitted by
Rule 60(k). He contends that if the petition had been treated
as a petition for writ of audita querela, he would have been
entitled to an evidentiary hearing and relief from the
Petition for Writ of Audita Querela
held that a writ of audita querela is indistinguishable from
a writ of error coram nobis, and a court properly treats a
request for permission to pursue audita querela relief as a
petition for writ of error coram nobis. Alexander v.
State, 2019 Ark. 171, 575 S.W.3d 401. Accordingly, it
was not error for the circuit court to consider Jeffersons
petition as a coram nobis petition. Although Jefferson
contended Rule 60(k) authorized him to file this specific
petition, it specifically abolished coram vobis and audita
querela actions as a procedure for obtaining relief from a
judgment. Therefore, any petition for a writ of error
challenging a criminal judgment of conviction in this state
is clearly a petition for a writ of error coram nobis as it
applies in modern law. Gonder v. State, 2019 Ark.
156, 2019 WL 2223185 (citing Whitney v. State, 2018
Ark. 138, 2018 Ark. 138).
Petition for Writ ...