CYRUS DEVILLE WILSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

The primary issue presented in this appeal is whether a notation in the prosecutor’s file written by an assistant prosecutor expressing her opinion as to the lack of credibility of two of the State’s witnesses is newly discovered evidence on which the defendant may base a petition for writ of error coram nobis. Over fifteen years after the defendant’s conviction for first degree murder became final, he filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis alleging that he had recently discovered a note written by the assistant prosecutor before his murder trial in which she expressed her opinion that it was a “good case but for most of Ws are juveniles who have already lied repeatedly.” The petition alleged that the note was exculpatory, newly discovered evidence and that the State’s failure to produce it before trial affected the outcome of the trial and undermined the reliability of the verdict. The trial court tolled the one-year statute of limitations on due process grounds, but summarily dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the defendant’s petition, concluding that the State had waived the statute of limitations defense by failing to raise it as an affirmative defense, and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing. We hold that the State did not waive the statute of limitations defense and that the trial court did not err in tolling the statute of limitations. We further hold that the handwritten note expressing the assistant prosecutor’s opinion as to the witnesses’ credibility was attorney work product. As such, it was neither discoverable nor admissible. Accordingly, the note was not newly discovered evidence on which a petition for writ of error coram nobis could be based. The judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed, and the judgment of the trial court dismissing the petition is reinstated.

Attorney 1: 

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Attorney 2: 

Patrick Timothy McNally, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Cyrus Deville Wilson.

Judge: 
LEE
AttachmentSize
wilsonc_042012.pdf90.46 KB
Groups: