Carter v. State, No. CR–08–1385

CourtSupreme Court of Arkansas
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation511 S.W.3d 313
Parties Edward CARTER, Petitioner v. STATE of Arkansas, Respondent
Decision Date09 February 2017
Docket NumberNo. CR–08–1385

511 S.W.3d 313

Edward CARTER, Petitioner
STATE of Arkansas, Respondent

No. CR–08–1385

Supreme Court of Arkansas.

Opinion Delivered February 9, 2017


In 2008, petitioner Edward Carter was found guilty by a jury of aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 360 months' imprisonment. The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed. Carter v. State , 2009 Ark. App. 683, 2009 WL 3384382.

In 2015, Carter filed in this court a pro se petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis in the case. The petition, as well as an amendment to it, were denied. Carter v. State , 2015 Ark. 397, 2015 WL 6560610 (per curiam). On August 17, 2016, Carter filed a second such petition that was also denied. Carter v. State , 2016 Ark. 378, 501 S.W.3d 375 (per curiam). On November 30, 2016, Carter filed a third coram-nobis petition, which is now before us. Carter has also filed a motion for leave to file a response to the State's response to the petition. As there is clearly no merit to the petition, it is denied, and the motion is moot.

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. Westerman v. State , 2015 Ark. 69, at 4, 456 S.W.3d 374, 376 ; Roberts v. State , 2013 Ark. 56, 425 S.W.3d 771. The function of the writ is to secure relief from a judgment rendered while there existed some fact that would have prevented its rendition had it 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 , 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. 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.

511 S.W.3d 316

Evidence adduced at Carter's trial reflected that he and Jessica Brewer were shopping at a Wal–Mart store at the same time Salli Reding and Shannon Smith were shopping in the store. Reding observed Carter placing video games inside his clothing. When Carter left the store without paying for the games, Reding followed him outside and confronted him about his failure to pay. At that point, Carter pulled a gun from his pocket, cocked it, and pointed it at Reding. Smith testified that she did not see Carter pull out the gun but saw a gun in Carter's hand down at his side after Reding stepped back and called out, "He's got a gun." Brewer also testified to seeing a gun at Carter's side. Carter then left the parking lot with Brewer and went to a resale shop where he sold the stolen games as used electronics.

On direct appeal, Carter argued that the State failed to prove that he had actual, unauthorized possession of merchandise from Wal–Mart, that there was no proof that a security alarm sounded when he left the store, and that no representative of the store testified to a loss of the merchandise. He contended that, without proof of the theft, there could be no aggravated robbery. The court of appeals rejected the arguments, finding that there was substantial evidence of a theft. Carter , 2009 Ark. App. 683, at 3. The court of appeals held that aggravated robbery occurred when physical force was threatened. Id.

As grounds for his first petition for a writ of error coram nobis, Carter contended that the State violated Brady v. Maryland , 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). He reiterates the claim in the second petition and again in this third petition.

A Brady violation is established when material evidence favorable to the defense is wrongfully withheld by the State. Isom v. State , 2015 Ark. 225, 462 S.W.3d 662. In Strickler v. Greene , 527 U.S. 263, 119 S.Ct. 1936, 144 L.Ed.2d 286 (1999), the Supreme Court revisited Brady and declared that, when the petitioner contends that material evidence was not disclosed to the defense, the petitioner must show that "there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickler , 527 U.S. at 280, 119 S.Ct. 1936 (quoting United States v. Bagley , 473 U.S. 667, 682, 105 S.Ct. 3375, 87 L.Ed.2d 481 (1985) ). In Strickler , the Court also set out the three elements of a true 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; and (3) prejudice must have ensued. Strickler , 527 U.S. 263, 119 S.Ct. 1936 ; see Howard , 2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38. Impeachment evidence that is material, as well as exculpatory evidence, falls within the Brady rule. Bagley , 473 U.S. 667, 105 S.Ct. 3375. To determine whether the proposed attack on the judgment is meritorious so as to warrant the granting of permission to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to pursue a writ of error coram nobis, this court looks to the reasonableness of the allegations of the petition and to the existence of the probability of the truth to those claims. Isom , 2015 Ark. 225, 462 S.W.3d 662.

In the first petition, Carter based his Brady claim on the following assertions: Carter did not take, or manifest the intention to take, anything of value from Reding; the only crimes that Reding could have witnessed were shoplifting by Brewer, who stole the video games, and, if Brewer passed those games to Carter, Reding was a witness only to Carter's being an accomplice to shoplifting; the

511 S.W.3d 317

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