Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s conviction for first-degree murder, for which she was sentenced to life imprisonment, holding that the trial court violated Appellant’s fundamental right to a public trial by closing the courtroom to the public during the testimony of a State witness. For her first point on appeal, Appellant argued that the closure of the courtroom during the testimony of the State witness violated her constitutional right to a public trial. At issue on appeal was whether the test set forth in Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S. 39, 48 (1984), for determining when the right of an accused to a public trial may give way to other rights or interests was met. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not make the findings necessary to support the closure, and therefore, the case must be remanded for a new trial. View "Mitchell v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37, holding that the circuit court did not err in summarily denying Appellant’s claim that his trial counsel was ineffective and that appellate counsel was not ineffective. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) contrary to Appellant’s argument on appeal, Appellant’s trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance when he compared Appellant’s case to the O.J. Simpson case; and (2) appellate counsel was not ineffective by failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence on direct appeal. View "Woods v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief filed under Ark. R. Crim. P. 37, holding that the circuit court’s decision to deny the petition was not clearly erroneous. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm and was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment. Appellant’s convictions and sentences were affirmed. Appellant later filed a petition for postconviction relief under Rule 37, arguing, among other things, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present proper jury instructions on extreme-emotional-disturbance manslaughter. On remand, the circuit court denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was not entitled to a jury instruction on extreme emotional disturbance, and therefore, Appellant was not entitled to postconviction relief. View "Douglas v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court and dismissed this matter in its entirety, holding that the circuit court exceeded its jurisdiction on remand, and therefore, its actions following remand were void. The Supreme Court decided a previous appeal in this case brought by Appellants seeking to join the enforcement of an ordinance passed by the City of Fayetteville. On appeal, the Court held that the circuit court erred in finding that the ordinance did not violate Act 137 of 2015, Ark. Code Ann. 14-1-401 to -403. At the time the case was remanded, the only claim before the circuit court was Appellants’ request for a declaratory judgment and injunction. On remand, however, the circuit court allowed certain parties to intervene and raise a new claim regarding the constitutionality of Act 137. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order denying a preliminary injunction, holding that the circuit court exceeded its jurisdiction on remand, and because the sole issue over which the circuit court properly had jurisdiction was conclusively decided by the Supreme Court in its previous opinion, the Court dismissed the matter in its entirety. View "Protect Fayetteville v. City of Fayetteville" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal concerning legislative and executive privilege in Arkansas the Supreme Court held that the legislative and executive privileges exist in Arkansas. At issue in this case was whether Ordinance 5781, passed by the City of Fayetteville following the passage of Act 137, conflicted with Act 137. The Supreme Court held that Fayetteville’s ordinance conflicted with Act 137 and could not stand. On remand, the State moved to quash subpoenas of two state legislators and for a discovery order barring discovery requests for the production of documents held by the legislative and executive branches. The circuit court denied the State’s motions. The State appealed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) this case was moot but the mootness exception applies; (2) the Speech and Debate Clause affords legislators privilege form certain discovery and testimony, and the privilege extends beyond statements and acts made on the literal floor of the House; and (3) the executive privilege also exists in Arkansas. View "Protect Fayetteville v. City of Fayetteville" 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 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 dismissing with prejudice this administrative appeal from final orders of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC), holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that the doctrine of sovereign immunity barred its consideration of the petition for review of the AOGC orders. In addition to dismissing the administrative appeal, the circuit court declared the adjudicatory provisions of the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act (APA) unconstitutional and declared the AOGC orders at issue void ab initio. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order in its entirety, holding (1) sovereign immunity was not implicated in this case because the role of the AOGC was that of a quasi-judicial forum and the AOGC was not “made defendant” within the meaning of Ark. Const. art. V, 20; and (2) because the circuit court erred in concluding that sovereign immunity applied to bar its consideration of the petition for review of the AOGC orders, the rulings declaring the adjudicatory provision of the APA unconstitutional and the AOGC’s orders void ab initio must also be reversed. View "Arkansas Oil & Gas Commission v. Hurd" 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