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Writ of Error Coram Nobis

August 31, 2017

Writ of Error Coram Nobis

CaseTommy Nunley v. State of Tennessee

Issues: Is withholding of evidence grounds for coram nobis relief? When is a petition for coram nobis time-barred?

Facts:  Nunley was convicted of aggravated rape in 1998. In 2014, he filed a Post-Conviction petition asking for DNA evidence to be tested, which was denied because there was no longer evidence to be tested. In 2016 he filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, claiming that the State withheld exculpatory evidence that his DNA did not match the evidence. The trial court denied his petition because the issues had already been litigated and he could not identify newly-discovered evidence that would have changed the outcome.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court affirmed the denial of relief because the record showed that Nunley and his attorney had all the information (even if not all the documents themselves) before trial. Although the trial court also denied the petition as untimely, the intermediate court passed on that issue as waived by the State.

Review Granted:  June 9, 2017.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court is likely to affirm based on the intermediate court’s summation of the evidence apparently known to Nunley at the time of trial.