State v. Carter
The three year limitation for the filing of a petition for a writ of error coram nobis has been the law in Connecticut for more than 130 years. In connection with a drug turf shooting during which a seven year old girl was struck by a stray bullet, Anthony Carter was convicted, following a jury trial, of various crimes including assault in the first degree. He filed a direct appeal and numerous collateral attacks on his judgment of conviction. On Dec. 1, 2011, he filed a pro se petition for a writ of error coram nobis, requesting that the court correct errors of fact regarding a motion in limine "heard on May 2, 2002, which if known at the time judgment was rendered, would have prevented its rendition." The court, Alexander, J., denied the petition noting that it was filed after the three year limitation period. The court denied Carter's motion for reconsideration. The next day, Carter filed a second petition for a writ of error coram nobis requesting that the court correct errors of fact regarding his motion for a judgment of acquittal after verdict heard on Aug. 2, 2002. Judge Alexander denied the second petition on Jan. 5, 2012. Carter's separate appeals from the denial of his petitions were consolidated. Carter claimed that the court erred by denying his petitions absent a written objection from the respondent state and by applying a three year limitation period. The Appellate Court concluded that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the petitions and should have rendered judgments dismissing them. The judgments were reversed for form and the cases remanded with direction to render judgments of dismissal. The three year limitation period for filing a petition for a writ of error coram nobis is jurisdictional. A court may raise an issue of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte at any time because it implicates the court's authority to act. Carter's petitions disclosed on their face that they were not filed within three years of his conviction, which is all that was needed to bring the jurisdictional matter to the court's attention. The petitioner did not identify any statute or rule of practice requiring the court to hold a hearing before acting on an untimely petition.