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Tolston v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

January 16, 2020

ROY TOLSTON, PETITIONER
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, RESPONDENT

Page 627

          PRO SE PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS AND WRIT OF AUDITA QUERELA PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTH DIVISION, NO. 60CR-01-1063.

         COUNSEL:

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Ass't Att'y Gen., for respondent.

          KAREN R. BAKER, Associate Justice. HART, J., dissents.

         OPINION

Page 628

          KAREN R. BAKER, Associate Justice

         Petitioner Roy Tolston brings this petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to file a petition for writ of error coram nobis and audita querela[1] in his criminal case. In the petition, Tolston contends that the trial court erroneously failed to apply the criminal code section that was in effect at the time the crime was committed and that the prosecutor violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), by withholding a medical report pertaining to an examination of the victim. Because we find that Tolston's claims do not establish a ground for the writ, the petition is denied.

          I. Nature of the Writ

         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. Newman v. State, 2009 Ark. 539, 354 S.W.3d 61. A writ of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy. State v. Larimore, 341 Ark. 397, 17 S.W.3d 87 (2000). Coram nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid. Green v. State, 2016 Ark. 386, 502 S.W.3d 524. 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. Newman, 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.

Page 629

          II. Grounds for the Writ

          The writ is allowed only under compelling circumstances to achieve justice and to address errors of the most fundamental nature. Pitts v. State,336 Ark. 580, 986 S.W.2d 407 (1999). 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. Howard v. State,2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38. The burden is on the petitioner in the application for coram nobis relief to ...


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