Session: February 6, 2018
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 96-04184 Glenn
I. Wright, Judge
Petitioner, Isaiah Higgs, appeals as of right from the Shelby
County Criminal Court's order denying his petition for
writ of error coram nobis. We affirm the coram nobis
court's judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the
Court of Criminal Appeals.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Court Affirmed Pursuant to Rule 20
M. Segraves and Michael R. Working, Memphis, Tennessee, for
the appellant, Isaiah Higgs.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P.
Weirich, District Attorney General; and Muriel Malone,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE
April 18, 1996, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the
Petitioner and his co-defendants, Darell Moy, Bob Partee, and
Darron Johnson, for one count of felony murder during the
attempt to perpetrate a robbery and one count of first degree
premeditated murder. In addition, the Petitioner was
separately indicted for attempted especially aggravated
robbery and four counts of attempted first degree murder.
Isaiah Higgs v. State, No. 02C01-9801-CR-00021, 1998
WL 910189, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App, at Jackson, Dec. 31,
1, 1996, after the State presented testimony from eight of
its witnesses at trial,  the Petitioner and the State negotiated
a plea agreement, whereby the Petitioner agreed to enter
guilty pleas to first degree premeditated murder, attempted
especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of attempted
first degree murder, and the State recommended concurrent
sentences of life imprisonment, eight years, and fifteen
years, respectively. Id. Pursuant to this plea
agreement, the State withdrew its demand for the death
penalty. Id. The Petitioner entered an
Alford plea to these charges, and the trial court
imposed the agreed-upon sentences. The court entered the
judgments of conviction on May 1, 1996.
April 9, 1997, the Petitioner filed a petition for
post-conviction relief, alleging that trial counsel was
ineffective and that his guilty pleas were not knowing and
voluntary. Id. He specifically claimed that he was
forced to enter his guilty pleas because two of his
co-defendants made threats against him and his family.
Id. The post-conviction court denied relief, and
this court affirmed. Id. at *1-2.
than eighteen years after his judgments of conviction became
final, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of
error coram nobis. In this petition and his amended petition
filed with the assistance of counsel, the Petitioner claimed
that he was entitled to error coram nobis relief from his
guilty pleas, pursuant to State v. Wlodarz, 361
S.W.3d 490 (Tenn. 2012), based on two pieces of newly
discovered evidence: (1) a transcribed telephone conversation
of eyewitness Booker Matthews, who identified
"Darrell" as the individual who fired shots from an
AK-47, which the State allegedly failed to disclose to him in
violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963),
and (2) an affidavit of co-defendant Darell Moy acknowledging
that he was the individual who fatally shot the victim and
that he coerced the Petitioner into confessing to this crime.
The Petitioner sought due process tolling of the statute of
limitations, asserting that he filed his petition for writ of
error coram nobis within one year of uncovering this newly
discovered evidence. See Burford v. State, 845
S.W.2d 204, 208 (Tenn. 1992); Workman v. State, 41
S.W.3d 100, 103 (Tenn. 2001).
coram nobis court bifurcated the evidentiary hearing on the
petition, hearing evidence on May 25, 2016, and September 22,
2016. After the May 25, 2016 hearing but prior to the
September 22, 2016 hearing, the Tennessee Supreme Court
decided Frazier, 495 S.W.3d at 253, wherein it
overturned Wlodarz, 361 S.W.3d at 503-04, and held
that "the coram nobis statute is not available as a
procedural mechanism for collaterally attacking a guilty
March 2, 2017, the trial court entered its order denying
relief, finding that the Petitioner's claim that his plea
was coerced had been previously determined on post-conviction
and that while the transcribed telephone conversation of
Booker Matthews was exculpatory, material, and had not been
provided by the State, the Petitioner was not entitled to
relief because a writ of error coram nobis is not available
to defendants who enter guilty pleas, pursuant to
Frazier. The ...