Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Appellant’s pro se petition and amended petition under Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1. In his petitions, Appellant argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and raised independent claims of error in the trial proceedings. The trial court concluded that Appellant did not demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel or that the trial proceedings were constitutionally infirm. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the trial court was not clearly erroneous in determining that Appellant failed to demonstrate fundamental error cognizable in Rule 37 proceedings or that Appellant failed to make the requisite showing of prejudice for his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Lee v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis in which Appellant alleged that the State violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), suborned perjury, and breached the agreement he entered into with the State before entering a plea of guilty. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by treating Appellant’s coram nobis petition as a petition raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) Appellant did not demonstrate a Brady violation; (3) Appellant failed to establish that his plea was coerced; and (4) Appellant’s argument that he was actually innocent of the offense to which he pleaded guilty did not establish a ground for the writ. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Appellant’s pro se petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1. Appellant was convicted of kidnapping, rape, and aggravated robbery and was sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Appellant then filed a pro se Rule 37.1 petition alleging multiple claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied relief. Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the denial of Appellant’s motion for new trial in regard to some claims; (2) another claim raised by Appellant was waived on appeal; and (3) Appellant’s claim with respect to the trial court’s order in denying his motion for a new trial was not cognizable in a Rule 37.1 proceeding. View "Sylvester v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the denial of multiple pro se motions he filed in connection with a pro se civil-rights action he filed in the circuit court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, which rendered his two petitions for writ of certiorari, two amended petitions for certiorari, and multiple motions connected with the appeal moot. Appellant filed a complaint alleging that Appellees violated his civil rights. In addition to his civil complaint, Appellant filed multiple motions. The circuit court denied the motions and other pleadings on the basis that Appellant had failed to provide proof of service with respect to the complaint and the related pleadings. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction because there was no final order on the merits. View "Nooner v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s interlocutory appeal from the circuit court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to suppress. On appeal, the State argued that the circuit court erred (1) by interpreting Ark. R. Crim. P. 2.2 to invalidate the encounter between Defendant and the arresting officer, and (2) in concluding that the officer’s actions constituted a seizure. The Supreme Court held that this case was not properly before it under Ark. R. App. P.-Crim. 3 where this was a case involving the trial court’s consideration of the particular facts of the case and its determination that those facts did not provide reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop under rule 3.1. View "State v. McWilliams" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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