Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court denied the motions filed by Warden James Gibson to dismiss Appellant’s appeal of the circuit court’s dismissal of his civil petition seeking an order directing the Warden to preserve certain evidence regarding an incident in which Appellant alleged he had been confined for sixteen hours in a cell flooded with raw sewage and to grant him additional time to file a brief, holding that the basis raised to dismiss the appeal was frivolous. Warden Gibson moved to dismiss the appeal because Appellant filed a handwritten brief. Gibson also requested in a separate motion that the Court stay briefing and grant him an additional thirty days after the decision on the motion in which to file a brief. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) under Ark. Sup. Ct. R 4-7(b)(1), briefs may be handwritten; and (2) Gibson provided no reason why he should not be required to file an appropriate brief that addresses the arguments and failed to provide adequate reasons why the Court should grant his request for additional time in which to submit a brief. View "Berger v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s denial of his motion for reconsideration of an order that set a partial filing fee of twenty dollars with respect to Appellant’s pro se civil complaint in tort against four persons, holding that the circuit court did not err when it denied the motion for reconsideration. The circuit court denied Appellant’s request for reconsideration because it was not timely filed pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 60(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant did not ask for reconsideration of the circuit court’s order until 155 days after the order had been entered, Appellant’s motion was untimely, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying it. View "Whitney v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court denying Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing the petition. Appellant was convicted for a string of robberies he committed when he was seventeen years old. In his habeas corpus petition, Appellant argued that the 240-year cumulative sentence he was serving was a de facto life sentence in violation of Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010) and that he sentence was grossly disproportionate to his crimes. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) where Appellant had multiple sentences and no individual sentence was a life sentence, Graham did not apply; and (2) Appellant’s argument that his sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crimes he committed was not preserved for review. View "Proctor v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded the instant appeal of the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s pro se petition for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in which Appellant sought to proceed with a civil-rights complaint against certain Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) employees, holding that the order was not sufficient for review, and therefore, the case must be remanded for findings of fact. The order at issue found that Appellant was not indigent and must pay the statutory filing fee for the action. The Supreme Court held (1) contrary to the assertion of Appellee, the director of the ADC, the order was appealable; and (2) the cause must be remanded for a supplemental order on the in forma pauperis petition that contains adequate findings of fact on the issue of whether Appellant was indigent. View "Berger v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction of possession of methamphetamine, holding that the circuit court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress because the search of Defendant’s wallet violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Defendant was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine after the arresting officer discovered the drug in Defendant’s wallet. In his suppression motion, Defendant argued that the officer did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion to search him for weapons and lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to search his wallet. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the officer did not have probable cause to search Defendant’s wallet, and because Defendant did not consent to the search of his wallet, the search violated the Fourth Amendment. View "Shay v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant a resentencing hearing and imposing a sentence of life with parole eligibility pursuant to the Fair Sentencing of Minors Act of 2017 (the Act), holding that Appellant was entitled to resentencing in accordance with the Court’s decision in Harris v. State, 547 S.W.3d 64. In 1983, Appellant pled guilty to capital murder. Appellant was seventeen years old at the time of the murder and received a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460, 479 (2012), Appellant filed a petition for habeas corpus arguing that his sentence was unconstitutional. The circuit court granted the petition, vacated the sentence, and remanded Appellant’s case for resentencing. Although Appellant’s sentence had been vacated before the Act was enacted, the circuit court relied on the Act’s provision in resentencing him to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after thirty years. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) based on this Court’s decision in Harris, the circuit court erred in applying the Act to Appellant’s case; and (2) Appellant was entitled to a hearing to present Miller evidence for consideration upon resentencing. View "Robinson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Appellant’s arguments lacked merit. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery and sentenced to life imprisonment for each conviction. In his petition for writ of habeas corpus, Appellant argued that Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), rendered his life sentence for aggravated robbery unconstitutional because he was a minor at the time of the offense and that Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S.460 (2010, and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016) precluded his sentence even for his homicide offense. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant’s Miller-based argument was without merit; and (2) Graham had no application to Appellant’s case. View "Early v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order dismissing Appellant’s counterclaim for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), holding that the Court was unable to address the sole issue raised by Appellant on appeal. On appeal, Appellant argued that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to consider her counterclaim because DHS was entitled to sovereign immunity and that her case should be dismissed without prejudice due to lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to preserve her sovereign-immunity argument, and therefore, the circuit court properly dismissed the counterclaim. View "Wilson v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying the petition because the charges did not violate double jeopardy. Appellant sent an email to an undercover police officer with an attachment containing thirty photographs depicting child pornography. Appellant pleaded guilty to thirty counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. Appellant later filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his convictions on twenty-nine of the thirty counts violated double jeopardy because he sent only one email with one attachment. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each photograph that was distributed could support a separate charge, and the fact that the thirty photographs were attached to the email in a single file was not relevant in this case. View "Pelletier v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Appellant’s pro se petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1 without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that the petition and record conclusively showed that Appellant was entitled to no relief. In his petition for postconviction relief, Petitioner alleged that trial counsel was ineffective in seven separate instances. The trial court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing, concluding that Petitioner failed to allege explicit grounds for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit in Petitioner’s arguments and that Petitioner was not entitled to postconviction relief. View "Gordon v. State" on Justia Law