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Henington v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

January 16, 2020

Danny Ray HENINGTON, Petitioner
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Respondent

Page 737

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 738

         PRO SE THIRD PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR A WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS [BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO. 04CR-07-1672]

         Danny R. Henington, pro se petitioner.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Joseph Karl Luebke, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for respondent.

          Opinion

         JOHN DAN KEMP, Chief Justice

          Petitioner Danny Ray Henington brings this third pro se petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a writ of error coram nobis. In the petition, Henington primarily alleges that prejudicial testimony provided by the State’s expert witness was admitted at trial without objection from counsel or an admonishment from the trial court. Henington contends that the errors of trial counsel and the trial court in the admission of this testimony deprived him of due process. Because Henington’s claims are not cognizable in coram nobis proceedings, we deny his petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for a writ of error coram nobis.

          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.

          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. Id. 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 make a full disclosure of specific facts relied upon and not to merely state conclusions as to the nature of such facts. McCullough v. State, 2017 Ark. 292, 528 S.W.3d 833.

          III. Background

         Henington was convicted by a jury in 2009 of raping a five-year-old girl in 2007 and ...


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