If the purpose of seeking a writ of coram vobis is to correct a clerical error or other factual mistake in a court record, then a notation that a party is male when she is in fact female would appear to be the type of error contemplated by the writ.
The Supreme Court of Virginia at least thinks such a claim is worth a look. It granted an inmate at the Deerfield Correctional Center in Capron an appeal recently and appointed an attorney to represent her on the issue.
The problem for Deena Kaye Myers may be that the “error” was anything but inadvertent.
She was born in December 1981 with spina bifida and cloacal exstrophy, the term used to describe the birth of an infant with an exposed gastrointestinal tract and bladder, often accompanied by undeveloped, deformed or absent genitalia.
At the time of her birth, surgery to correct – or at least minimize – the deformities usually included an effort to create female genitalia because the surgery to form functioning male sex organs was much more difficult, if it was possible at all.
According to documents filed with the Supreme Court and in a lawsuit Myers has filed in federal court, Myers’ birth certificate lists her sex as female and she was raised as a girl until about age 12. Myers told her mother then that she was attracted to girls, and the mother decided to let Myers live as a boy. She used the name Scott after that but her name was never formally changed.
She was convicted of robbery in 2001 in Pittsylvania County Circuit Court after a woman was dragged when Myers attempted to grab her purse from a car. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but 15 months suspended.
After serving that time, she was released and discussions were held about transferring her probation to a place near Johns Hopkins University where she could undergo surgery to change her sex to male.
While those arrangements were being discussed, Myers was arrested on charges of arson and auto theft. She was convicted of some of the charges, the suspended time on the robbery conviction was imposed, and she is now serving a 15-year sentence with a projected release date in April 2015.
During her time in prison, Myers has filed numerous complaints with the Virginia Department of Corrections about being housed with men in a dormitory and being subjected to searches by male officers instead of by female officers. In addition to infirmities from the birth defect that include using a colostomy bag, Myers has club feet and uses a wheelchair. She also has filed many internal complaints contending that the department has not responded appropriately to her disabilities.
In December, she filed suit in federal court in Richmond seeking $25 million in damages and a court order transferring her to a female prison. She asked for the appointment of an attorney to represent her, but that request has been denied and she has been ordered to provide details about the specific misconduct that she alleges by 38 individual prison employees.
The Supreme Court appointed Richmond lawyer Catherine S. Rusz to represent her in the case before it. Rusz said Myers’ only goal there is to have her sex changed in court records so that she will be transferred to a woman’s prison.
Errr…does Myers have an X and a Y chromosome, or two X chromosomes? If the former, then the record is technically correct.