STEPHEN BERNARD WLODARZ v. STATE OF TENNESSEE - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Feb 23, 2012

Head Comment: With a separate concurring opinion.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1: William Louis Ricker, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stephen Bernard Wlodarz.

Attorneys 2: Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Gordon W. Smith, Solicitor General; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and J. Douglas Goodbee, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): WADE

The petitioner, charged with first degree premeditated murder and other crimes, entered best interest guilty pleas and received an effective sentence of life without parole. After an unsuccessful petition for post-conviction relief challenging the effectiveness of his trial counsel, he filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis alleging newly discovered, exculpatory ballistic evidence. The trial court denied the petition, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. Wlodarz v. State, No. E2008-02179-CCA-R3-CO, 2010 WL 1998766 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 19, 2010). We granted the application for permission to appeal to consider whether a petitioner who has entered guilty pleas may challenge his convictions by writ of error coram nobis pursuant to the terms of our statute. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-26- 105(b) (2006). While we have determined that the petitioner did not forfeit the procedural remedy of writ of error coram nobis based on newly discovered evidence by entering the guilty pleas, the evidence in this instance does not qualify as newly discovered. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.