Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

by
After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of sexual indecency with a minor and two counts of rape. The court of appeals affirmed. Appellant subsequenty filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1. The petition was denied on the ground that it was not timely filed. No appeal was taken, and Appellant later sought leave to proceed with a belated appeal. The Supreme Court denied Appellant’s motion for belated appeal, holding that Appellant could not prevail if he were permitted to proceed with an appeal because the Rule 37.1 petition was not timely filed, and therefore, the trial court had no jurisdiction to grant the relief sought. View "Pruitt v. State" on Justia Law

by
When attorney Kent Rubens, now deceased, was a general partner in the law firm of Rieves, Rubens and Mayton (RRM) Rubens entered into an oral contingency-fee agreement for legal services rendered to Hotel Associates, Inc. (Hotel). Hotel later filed suit against RRM and other defendants, contending that the oral contingency-fee agreement was unenforceable as against public policy. RRM counterclaimed for breach of contract. The circuit court granted RRM’s motion for summary judgment on all of Hotel’s claims and on RRM’s counterclaim and awarded RRM prejudgment interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) ruling that oral contingency-fee agreements are enforceable in Arkansas; (2) granting summary judgment for RRM because no material issues of genuine fact remained in dispute; and (3) granting RRM’s motion for prejudgment interest. View "Hotel Assocs. Inc. v. Rieves, Rubens & Mayton" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of manslaughter. Appellant’s sentence was enhanced pursuant to two enhancement statutes, and the circuit court entered a sentencing order sentencing Appellant to a total of thirty-five years in prison. Appellant filed a posttrial motion contending that the enhanced sentence was an illegal sentence and should be set aside because his ten-year enhanced sentence for committing manslaughter in the presence of a child was not authorized under Ark. Code Ann. 5-4-702(a). The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that Appellant’s ten-year sentence pursuant to section 5-4-702(a) was illegal because that statute does not authorize an enhanced sentence for the offense of manslaughter. View "Hart v. State" on Justia Law

by
Appellant and his father were charged with multiple felony offenses. Appellant entered a negotiated guilty plea to reduced charges in exchange for testifying for the State at his father’s trial. At a second trial for Appellant’s father, Appellant refused to testify and, as a result, his plea agreement was revoked. After a trial, Appellant was convicted of the original offenses for which he was charged. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant subsequently filed a pro se writ of habeas corpus, contending that the trial court in his case lacked jurisdiction to enter the judgment because the revocation of his plea agreement was illegal. The circuit court denied the habeas petition. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal, holding that Appellant did not meet his burden of demonstrating a basis for a writ of habeas corpus to issue because the allegations raised by Appellant did not call into question the trial court’s jurisdiction. View "Green v. Hobbs" on Justia Law

by
In 1982, Appellant pled guilty to three counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of rape. In 2013, Appellant filed a second petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, alleging that the judgment rendered in 1982 was a nullity because the trial court did not have jurisdiction to enter the judgment. The trial court denied the petition. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal and mooted his motion to supplement the record on appeal, holding the trial court did not err in dismissing the petition, as neither of the claims advanced by Appellant in his petition was sufficient to establish that the judgment of conviction was void on the ground that the trial court lacked jurisdiction. View "Ford v. State" on Justia Law

by
Appellant filed in the circuit court a pro se complaint against the Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), asserting that, under the Interstate Corrections Compact, he was entitled to be transferred to a prison in California where his family lived. The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal and mooted the motions Appellant filed in relation to the appeal, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing the complaint, as (1) under the Compact, ADC officials had sole control over whether Appellant would be transferred to another state; and (2) the Director had sovereign immunity. View "Dubois v. Hobbs" on Justia Law

by
Appellant filed a pro se petition for judicial review pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. 25-12-212 of the Administrative Procedure Act, asserting that the chairman of the Arkansas Parole Board had improperly denied him release on parole. The circuit court dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal and mooted his motions related to the appeal, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing the petition for judicial review where the petition was untimely filed, failed to state a valid claim of a due process violation, and was barred by sovereign immunity. View "Crossno v. Felts" on Justia Law

by
In 2005, Appellant was found guilty of second-degree stalking, first-degree terroristic threatening, and misdemeanor violation of a protective order. In 2007, Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. On remand, Appellant filed a pro se amended petition for postconviction relief. The trial court denied relief. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal and declared moot Appellant’s motion for rule on clerk because the amended petition was not in compliance with Rule 37.1 because it was not verified in accordance with Rule 37.1(c). View "Branning v. State" on Justia Law

by
Martha Pierce applied for Medicaid assistance after her husband, Gordon Pierce, was admitted to a long-term-care facility. The Department of Human Services (DHS) included Martha’s IRA and 401(k) retirement accounts in calculating Gordon’s resources for purposes of Medicaid eligibility and denied the application. The circuit court reversed, concluding that DHS should not have counted against Gordon’s Medicaid eligibility the retirement accounts owned by Martha. DHS appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, retirement accounts owned by a community spouse may be countable resources when determining Medicaid eligibility for an institutionalized spouse. Remanded. View " Ark. Dep't of Human Servs. v. Pierce" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to death. After the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.5, asserting twenty-three allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s petition, as Appellant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel in either the guilt phase or sentencing phase of his trial. View "Wertz v. State" on Justia Law