Petition for Writ of Error Coram Nobis California
"A writ of coram nobis permits the court which rendered judgment 'to reconsider it and give relief from errors of fact.'
The writ will properly issue only when the petitioner can establish three elements:
(1) that some fact existed which, without his fault or negligence, was not presented to the court at the trial and which would have prevented the rendition of the judgment;
(2) that the new evidence does not go to the merits of the issues of fact determined at trial;
(3) that he did not know nor could he have, with due diligence, discovered the facts upon which he relies any sooner than the point at which he petitions for the writ." (People v. Soriano, supra, 194 Cal. App. 3d at p. 1474 (Soriano).)
A claim that the defendant was deprived of effective representation of counsel is not an appropriate basis for relief by writ of coram nobis and must be raised on appeal or by petition for writ of habeas corpus instead. ( Id. at p. 1477.)
For better or worse, the terms "motion to vacate" and "petition for writ of error coram nobis" are often used interchangeably and the two procedures are similar in scope and effect. (Prickett, the Writ of Error Coram Nobis in California (1990) 30 Santa Clara L.Rev. 1, 19-20 & fn. 80 (Prickett).)
However, courts have applied more precise rules for appeals from denials of petitions for writ of error coram nobis.
Denial of a defendant's request for coram nobis relief is appealable (People v. Allenthorp (1966) 64 Cal. 2d 679, 683 [51 Cal. Rptr. 244, 414 P.2d 372]) unless the petition failed to state a prima facie case for relief (People v. Kraus (1975) 47 Cal. App. 3d 568, 575, fn. 4 [121 Cal. Rptr. 11]) or the petition merely duplicated issues which had or could have been resolved in other proceedings ( People v. Vaitonis (1962) 200 Cal. App. 2d 156, 159 [19 Cal. Rptr. 54]; see generally Prickett, supra, at pp. 48-66).
Coram nobis will not issue to vacate a plea of guilty solely on the ground that it was induced by misstatements of counsel (People v. Rodriguez (1956) 143 Cal. App. 2d 506, 508 [299 P.2d 1057]) or where the claim is that the defendant did not receive effective assistance from counsel (People v. Ibanez (1999) 76 Cal. App. 4th 537, 546, fn. 13 [90 Cal. Rptr. 2d 536]; People v. Soriano (1987) 194 Cal. App. 3d 1470, 1477 [240 Cal. Rptr. 328, 65 A.L.R.4th 705]).
Where coram nobis raises only such grounds, an appeal from the superior court's ruling may be dismissed as frivolous. (See People v. Shorts (1948) 32 Cal. 2d 502, 516-517 [197 P.2d 330]; People v. Sumner (1968) 262 Cal. App. 2d 409, 413, 414 [69 Cal. Rptr. 15].)
In a myriad of situations, including but not limited to those covered above, the defendant may seek to have judgment vacated by a petition for writ of habeas corpus, an all-purpose remedy.
Although the People may appeal the granting of a writ of habeas corpus, the detainee has no right to appeal its denial and must instead file a new habeas corpus petition in the reviewing court. ( In re Clark (1993) 5 Cal. 4th 750, 767, fn. 7 [21 Cal. Rptr. 2d 509, 855 P.2d 729]; People v. Garrett, supra, 67 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 1421-1423.)
One court has authorized a defendant to appeal, however, in the limited circumstance that the habeas corpus petition led to a "sentencing rehearing" at which the court considered whether to dismiss a prior conviction under the authority of People v. Tenorio (1970) 3 Cal. 3d 89 [89 Cal. Rptr. 249, 473 P.2d 993], a decision that removed the prosecutor's control over dismissals of certain charges. ( People v. Wax (1972) 24 Cal. App. 3d 302 [101 Cal. Rptr. 289].)
This exception was created without analysis in a case where appealability may not have been raised by the parties. Another division of the same court has declined to follow Wax in a parallel circumstance. (People v. Garrett, supra, at pp. 1422-1423.)