Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for the kidnapping and murder of his girlfriend. A jury sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for murder plus forty years imprisonment for kidnapping. In affirming the convictions on appeal, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s challenges to the State’s use of three peremptory strikes against black potential jurors during jury selection because the State provided sufficient race-neutral explanations to justify its use of the peremptory strikes. View "Woods v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction for possession of a controlled substance with purpose to deliver, for which Appellant was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay a $5000 fine. The court held (1) the trial court did not err by denying Appellant’s motions for directed verdict; (2) the trial court did not err by failing to give Appellant’s proffered jury instruction regarding constructive possession; and (3) the trial court did not commit clear error in denying Appellant’s motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of a search. View "Pokatilov v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s appeal from an order for the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion to suppress two statements he made, holding that the appeal was improper under the court’s rules. After the Supreme Court remanded the case for a new trial, the circuit court ruled that two of Defendant’s statements would be suppressed. On appeal, the State argued that the circuit court erred because it did not consider the totality of the circumstances and only considered Defendant’s mental incompetency when making its ruling. The Supreme Court held that this was not a proper State appeal because the State’s arguments were based on the application and not the interpretation of the court’s criminal rules. View "State v. Newman" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s ruling that defense counsel was not ineffective for failing to dismiss the drug offense charges against Defendant based on a speedy-trial violation. The circuit court found that sufficient excludable time periods should be charged against Defendant such that no speedy-trial violation occurred. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that counsel’s failure to raise a speedy-trial argument was not deficient because there was no speedy-trial violation and that Defendant failed to meet the first prong of Strickland. View "Turner v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that Appellant’s attempt to waive his right to counsel and represent himself at trial was equivocal and the court's decision to proceed with Appellant’s original counsel. After Appellant requested to waive his right to counsel and represent himself at trial, Appellant engaged in multiple instances of uncertainty while being told of the consequences of self-representation. Therefore, the trial court ruled that Appellant’s invocation was equivocal. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Appellant’s attempt to waive counsel and self-represent was not sufficiently unequivocal. View "Reed v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s petition for writ of mandamus alleging that his rights had been violated by the denial of his parole. The circuit court found, among other things, that Appellant failed to establish that he had a right to be paroled, that the Due Process Clause does not create a protected liberty interest for an inmate to have a specific release and parole-eligibility date, and that the denial of Appellant's parole was not a new punishment in violation of double jeopardy. In affirming, the Supreme Court held that Appellant failed to establish a right or a performance of a duty for which the writ should issue. View "Warren v. Felts" on Justia Law

by
In this wrongful termination case, Peggy Cryer, who was sued individually and in her official capacity as executive secretary of the Arkansas State Medical Board, was entitled to statutory immunity on some, but not all, of Plaintiff's claims. Kristi Byers was terminated from her employment with the Board for allegedly not using leave time on days that she did not come to work. Byers filed suit against the Board and Cryer for wrongful termination, alleging race discrimination and retaliation under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA) and seeking damages and injunctive relief. The circuit court denied Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on immunity grounds, concluding that Defendants were not entitled to sovereign immunity and Cryer was not entitled to statutory immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Cryer was entitled to statutory immunity on Byers’s individual-capacity race discrimination and retaliation claims under the ACRA but statutory immunity did not bar Byers’s federal civil rights claims against Cryer in her individual capacity. Remanded. View "Arkansas State Medical Board v. Byers" on Justia Law

by
Appellant, who was convicted of murder in the first degree with a firearm enhancement and attempted murder in the first degree, filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37, asserting that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s trial counsel’s performance was not constitutionally deficient for any of the reasons stated by Appellant, as Appellant failed to establish prejudice under the standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). View "Edwards v. State" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of capital murder. Appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed a petition for postconviction relief under Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, raising two claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied relief, concluding that counsel was not ineffective. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court’s factual findings support its apparent conclusion that Appellant failed to satisfy either prong of the test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, and those findings were not clearly erroneous. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of capital murder. Appellant was sentenced as a habitual offender to life without parole. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant subsequently filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, making numerous allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel and an allegation of prosecutorial misconduct. The trial court denied the petition. Appellant appealed and filed two motions related to the appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and declared the motions moot, holding that the trial court did not err when it concluded that the conduct of both trial and appellate counsel alleged to be deficient by Appellant did not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Nichols v. State" on Justia Law