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State v. Gardner

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 21, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DAVID B. GARDNER

          Assigned on Briefs February 12, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Robertson County No. 9790 Jill Bartee Ayers, Judge.

         Petitioner, David B. Gardner, appeals the denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis based upon newly discovered evidence. After thoroughly reviewing the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the error coram nobis court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed.

          Benjamin K. Dean, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, David B. Gardner.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and John E. Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Thomas T. Woodall, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          THOMAS T. WOODALL, JUDGE.

         Procedural History

         Petitioner was convicted on October 11, 1995, of burglary and theft of property less than $500 in value. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of twelve years to be served in the Department of Correction. The judgments were signed on December 8, 1995, and filed in January 1996, along with an amended judgment for burglary reflecting Defendant's offender classification being changed from Range I standard offender to Career Offender. No amended judgment for the theft conviction is in the record.

         On October 10, 2017, Petitioner filed an untimely petition for writ of error coram nobis claiming he recently discovered that the prosecutor at his trial had a conflict of interest, which constituted newly discovered evidence. According to the petition, the prosecutor was Petitioner's defense attorney on a case in 1980 when he pled guilty to forgery and receipt of stolen property. Petitioner asserted that the prosecutor was engaged to the victim in the 1980 case at the time of the guilty plea and later married her. Petitioner claimed that the prosecutor "intentionally conspired with the Court to alter Petitioner's judgments [sic], whereas the judgments [sic] were changed from 30% to 60% to effectively give Petitioner more time in the T.D.O.C." Petitioner further claimed that since the prosecutor's marriage to the victim, the prosecutor "has sought revenge upon the Petitioner by keeping him illegally incarcerated." Petitioner alleged that he was without fault for failing to present the newly discovered evidence at the proper time because the State and the prosecutor "concealed the evidence from Petitioner and all other attorneys for Petitioner. Thus due process and equitable tolling should toll any applicable statute of limitations or procedural bars." Petitioner argued that the newly discovered evidence "would have resulted in a different judgment because Petitioner would have never been charged had it not been for the malicious prosecution."

         The coram nobis court dismissed the petition for writ of error coram nobis finding that the petition did not state a colorable claim. The court also found that the writ "does not present any new evidence that would have resulted in a different judgment." Concerning the judgment form for Petitioner's burglary conviction, the coram nobis court noted that the "documentation at the sentencing was that [Petitioner] was a career offender and it just got marked wrong the first time around and so then, it was corrected."

         Analysis

         On appeal, Petitioner argues that he is entitled to error coram nobis relief based on newly discovered evidence. Petitioner asserts a conflict of interest by the prosecutor and that such evidence would have resulted in a different judgment had it been presented at trial. Petitioner further argues that the coram nobis court erred by summarily dismissing his ...


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