Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court convicting Appellant of capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and theft of property but remanded for the circuit court to correct the sentencing order, holding that there was no reversible error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant's motion for directed verdict on the capital-murder, kidnapping, and aggravated-robbery charges; (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to suppress; (3) due to a discrepancy between the sentencing order and the pronouncement of sentence, this matter must be remanded for the court to correct the order; (4) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in admitting three exhibits over Appellant's hearsay objections; (5) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to question Appellant about three prior bad acts; and (6) Appellant was not entitled to relief on his remaining claims of error. View "Smith v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court enjoining the enforcement of the Bentonville School District's mask policy in favor of Plaintiffs, parents of school children, holding that the the circuit court abused its discretion in granting Plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO).In granting the TRO, the circuit court concluded that the school policy at issue violated Plaintiffs' right under Ark. Const. art. II, 21 and 29 to care for their children and that the District lacked the authority to issue the mask policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that (1) the circuit court abused its discretion in finding that the policy violated Plaintiffs' constitutional rights and was enacted without proper authority; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to show that irreparable harm would result in the absence of a TRO. View "Bentonville School District v. Sitton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the circuit court denying the State's motion to dismiss and granting a preliminary injunction in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the preliminary injunction was granted erroneously.Plaintiff, a hearing-instrument dispenser whose license was not renewed, brought this action against the Arkansas Department of Health, the Secretary of Health, and Arkansas Board of Hearing Instrument Dispensers, and the Executive Director of the Board of Hearing Instrument Dispensers (collectively, the State), arguing that the Board's refusal to provide him a proper renewal notice and a hearing violated his due process and equal protection rights and was an arbitrary and capricious abuse of the Board's power. The circuit court granted Plaintiff's request for a temporary injunction and declaratory relief. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff adequately pleaded a due process claim; (2) Plaintiff's equal protection claim was barred by sovereign immunity; and (3) because the preliminary injunction order contained no findings on irreparable harm or likelihood of success on the merits, the case must be remanded for findings in accordance with Ark. R. Civ. P. 65(d)(1). View "Arkansas Department of Health v. Solomon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that there was no error.After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of capital murder and aggravated robbery. The court sentenced Appellant as a habitual offender to an aggregate term of life imprisonment without parole. In his habeas corpus petition, Appellant claimed, among other things, that his convictions and sentences were invalid because the prosecutor did not sign the criminal information. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not clearly err when it rejected Appellant's claims for habeas relief. View "Gardner v. Payne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the supplemental order of the circuit court denying Ark. R. Crim. P. 37 relief, holding that the circuit court did not err.Defendant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. Defendant later sought postconviction relief, which the circuit court denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant was not denied the right to a fair and impartial jury; (2) the circuit court did not clearly err in denying Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel arguments; (3) Defendant's challenges to the third death-penalty verdict form did not constitute grounds for relief under Rule 37; (4) Defendant's challenges to the verdict forms did not constitute grounds for relief; and (5) Defendant's remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "Gay v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellant's petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying relief.In denying and dismissing Appellant's petition, the circuit court found that the criminal information in this case was not deficient and that Appellant's counsel provided effective assistance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, contrary to Appellant's contention on appeal, the criminal information complied with Ark. Const. art. VII, 49. View "Halliburton v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment denying Appellant's petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, holding that Appellant's claims lacked merit.Appellant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced as a habitual offender to life imprisonment without parole. In his postconviction petition, Appellant argued, among other things, that his counsel provided ineffective assistance. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on any of his allegations of error. View "Thomas v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission (collectively, State Defendants) and Nature's Herbs and Wellness of Arkansas, LLC, holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction.Plaintiff brought this suit alleging violations of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission's administrative rules, the Administrative Procedure Act, and Plaintiff's equal protection and due process rights. The circuit court concluded that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring its lawsuit and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff's appeal, holding that because the record was not filed within ninety days from the filing of the first notice of appeal this Court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. View "Medicanna, LLC v. Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Petitioner's petition for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that there was no error.Petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In his petition for postconviction relief, Petitioner alleged that his counsel was ineffective for failing to develop the defense of provocation, among other things. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court's finding that Petitioner did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel was not clearly erroneous. View "Coakley v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's pro se petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis, holding that Petitioner failed to raise allegations that warranted coram nobis relief.Petitioner was found guilty of the rape of his minor daughter and sentenced to life imprisonment. In his petition for coram nobis relief, Petitioner argued that his daughter had recanted her trial testimony, his daughter perjured herself, and his trial counsel was ineffective. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that Petitioner failed to establish that he was entitled to the writ. View "Chunestudy v. State" on Justia Law