Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Teresa Jones filed claims against Truman Arnold Companies (TAC) for negligent supervision, retention, and hiring of a store manager, claiming that she was a victim of sexual assault and harassment while employed by TAC and that she was exposed to this harm due to TAC’s negligence. TAC moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Jones’s sole remedy was through the Workers’ Compensation Act and that the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission had the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the applicability of the Act. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss, ruling that the Act did not provide coverage for Jones’s claims because her alleged injuries amounted to “mental injury or illness,” which is not compensable under workers’ compensation. The TAC subsequently filed a petition for writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that the issue of jurisdiction resided exclusively with the Workers’ Compensation Commission because the facts, as presented in the complaint, could not be determined to fall outside the Act as a matter of law. View "Truman Arnold Cos. v. Miller County Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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Patricia Adams filed claims against Truman Arnold Companies (TAC) for negligent supervision, retention, and hiring of a store manager, claiming that she was a victim of sexual assault and harassment while employed by TAC and that she was exposed to this harm due to TAC’s negligence. TAC moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Adams’s sole remedy was through the Workers’ Compensation Act and that the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission had the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the applicability of the Act. The circuit court denied TAC’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the allegations fell outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction. TAC then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition to preclude the circuit court from continuing to exercise jurisdiction over Adams’s claims against TAC. The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition, holding that the writ was warranted for the reasons stated in Truman Arnold Cos. v. Miller County Circuit Court, handed down this same date. View "Truman Arnold Cos. v. Miller County Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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Appellant, an inmate, filed a complaint against twenty-two employees of the Arkansas Department of Corrections alleging violations of his civil rights. Specifically, Appellant claimed that he was denied access to certain religious publications and the right to lead Nation of Islam religious services. Appellant filed a pro se motion for a preliminary injunction, summary judgment, and default judgment seeking to enjoin Defendants from violating his rights. The circuit court denied the motion without holding a hearing on the merits. Appellant appealed the denial of his motion for summary judgment and a preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court (1) dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the motion for summary judgment, as a denial of a motion for summary judgment is not a final, appealable order; and (2) reversed and remanded to the circuit court to hold a hearing on Appellant’s motion for preliminary injunction, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the complexity and the rights in question warranted a hearing below. View "Muntaqim v. Hobbs" on Justia Law

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Appellant, an inmate, filed a petition seeking judicial review of a decision of the Arkansas Parole Board that denied Appellant’s application for parole. In his petition, Appellant contended that the Board had deprived him of liberty without due process and had retroactively applied a parole statute in violation of the ex-post-facto prohibition in the United States and Arkansas Constitutions. Appellant filed a petition to proceed in forma pauperis in connection with his petition for judicial review. The circuit court summarily denied Appellant’s petition to proceed in forma pauperis on the basis that Appellant had not stated a colorable claim. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, holding that Appellant failed to state a colorable claim based on the allegation that the denial of his parole eligibility constituted a violation of his right to due process but did state sufficient non-conclusory facts to assert a colorable claim for judicial review of an alleged violation of the ex-post-facto prohibition, and therefore, Appellant was entitled to proceed in forma pauperis. View "Ruiz v. Felts" on Justia Law

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Defendant, who was sixteen years old at the time of his arrest, was charged as an adult with robbery and aggravated assault. Defendant was subsequently interviewed by police in connection with an assault of a female. The day after he made a statement, Defendant was charged as an adult with residential burglary, sexual assault in the second degree, and aggravated assault. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the statement he made to police. The circuit court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that Defendant was unable to waive his right to counsel because he was in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services at the time of the interview. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in its interpretation of Ark. Code Ann. 9-27-317(g) and therefore erred in granting Defendant’s motion to suppress. View "State v. Griffin" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was Ordinance 5781, entitled “An Ordinance To Ensure Uniform Nondiscrimination Protections Within The City of Fayetteville For Groups Already Protected To Varying Degrees Throughout State Law.” After the Fayetteville City Council passed the Ordinance, Appellants filed a complaint and a motion for declaratory judgment, arguing that Ordinance 5781 violates Act 137 of 2015, the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act. Thereafter, the Ordinance was approved by voters in a special election. The circuit court concluded that the Ordinance did not violate Act 137. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Ordinance 4781 violated the plain wording of Act 137 by extending discrimination laws in the City of Fayetteville to include two classifications not previously included under state law, thus creating a direct inconsistency between state and municipal law. View "Protect Fayetteville v. City of Fayetteville" on Justia Law