Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.
Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court
Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
Brown v. State, No. W2022-00043-CCA-R3-ECN, p. 8 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 8, 2023).
This court reviews whether a claim is time-barred, as well as whether due process principles require tolling the statute of limitations, de novo. See Nunley, 552 S.W.3d at 830.
Garner v. State, No. M2021-01396-CCA-R3-PC, p. 9 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 12, 2023).
Whether due process principles require tolling the statute of limitations is a mixed question of law and fact and is reviewed de novo with no presumption of correctness. See Vaughn v. State, 202 S.W.3d 106, 115 (Tenn. 2006), abrogated on other grounds by Brown v. Jordan, 563 S.W.3d 196, 202 (Tenn. 2018).
Bowen v. State, No. W2022-00229-CCA-R3-ECN, p. 7-8 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Dec. 5, 2022).
Petitions for writ of error coram nobis are subject to a one-year statute of limitations. Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-7-103 (2020). “The statute of limitations is computed from the date the judgment of the trial court becomes final, either thirty days after its entry in the trial court if no post-trial motions are filed or upon entry of an order disposing of a timely filed, post-trial motion.” Harris, 301 S.W.3d at 144 (citing Mixon, 983 S.W.2d at 670). Calculating the statute of limitations in this manner is consistent with the “longstanding rule that persons seeking relief under the writ must exercise due diligence in presenting the claim.” Mixon, 983 S.W.2d at 670; see also Harris, 301 S.W.3d at 144.
Our supreme court has determined that “compliance with the timely filing requirement . . . is an essential element of a coram nobis claim.” Nunley, 552 S.W.3d at 828. However, a petitioner can request equitable tolling of the limitations period. Id. To determine whether due process requires tolling, courts must balance the State’s interest in preventing “stale and groundless” claims against the petitioner’s interest in having a hearing to present newly discovered evidence which may have led the jury to a different verdict if it had been presented at trial. Workman v. State, 41 S.W.3d 100, 103 (Tenn. 2001). To balance these interests, courts should use a three-step analysis:
(1) determine when the limitations period would normally have begun to run; (2) determine whether the ground for relief actually arose after the limitations period would normally have commenced; and (3) if the grounds are “later- arising,” determine if, under the facts of the case, a strict application of the limitations period would effectively deny the petitioner a reasonable opportunity to present the claim.
Sands v. State, 903 S.W.2d 297, 301 (Tenn. 1995); see also Harris, 301 S.W.3d at 145. Likewise, “the coram nobis petition must be filed within a time period that ‘does not exceed the reasonable opportunity afforded by due process.’” Nunley, 552 S.W.3d at 830 (quoting Sample v. State, 82 S.W.3d 267, 275 (Tenn. 2002)); see Workman, 41 S.W.3d at 103. Whether due process considerations require tolling the statute of limitations is a mixed question of law and fact, which we review de novo with no presumption of correctness. Harris, 301 S.W.3d at 144 (citing Brown v. Erachem Comilog, Inc., 231 S.W.3d 918, 921 (Tenn. 2007)).
Douglas v. State of Tennessee, No. W2021-01401-CCA-R3-ECN, p. 5 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. May 18, 2022).
Although the decision to grant or deny coram nobis relief rests within the sound discretion of the trial court, see Vasques, 221 S.W.3d at 527-28, “[w]hether due process considerations require tolling of a statute of limitations is a mixed question of law and fact, which we review de novo with no presumption of correctness,” Harris v. State, 301 S.W.3d 141, 145 (Tenn. 2010).