Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

by
The Supreme Court denied the petition filed by Petitioners claiming that the popular name and ballot title of Issue Number 4, a proposed constitutional amendment concerning casino gambling, were insufficient, holding that Issue Number 4 was proper for inclusion on the November 6, 2018 ballot. Specifically, the Court held that all of the twenty-seven challenges brought by Petitioners in support of their claims failed, that there was no fatal infirmity with the popular name or ballot title of Issue Number 4, and that the proposed amendment’s popular name and ballot title were sufficient. View "Stiritz v. Honorable Mark Martin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court denied the original action brought by Petitioner, individually and on behalf of Citizens for Local Choice, challenging the sufficiency of the ballot title with regarding to Issue Number 4, which provides for the issuance of four casino licenses in the state, holding that Petitioner did not meet his burden of proving that the ballot title was insufficient. Specifically, the Court held that Issue No. 4 was proper for inclusion on the November 6, 2018 ballot because (1) the popular name and ballot title of the issue gave voters a fair understanding of the issues presented, and (2) the scope and significance of the proposed changes in law were not misleading and allowed voters to reach an informed decision for or against the proposal. View "Knight v. Martin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order entering a preliminary injunction in favor of Plaintiff in his challenge to Act 633 of 2017, which concerns verification of voter registration, holding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits because Act 633 comports with the requirements in Amendment 51 to the Arkansas Constitution for its amendment. The circuit court entered a preliminary injunction order prohibiting and enjoining Appellants from enforcing the requirements of Act 633. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) this action was not subject to the sovereign-immunity defense; (2) Plaintiff had standing to challenge the Act’s constitutionality; but (3) Act 633’s constitutional amendment is germane to Amendment 51 and consistent with its policy and purpose and is therefore constitutional. View "Honorable Mark Martin v. Haas" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s appeal from the circuit court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges against her based on a speedy-trial violation, holding that this was not a proper State appeal under Ark. R. App. P.-3(d). Defendant was convicted of thirty-one counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in district court. Defendant appealed her convictions to the circuit court. Defendant later moved to dismiss the charges against her based on speedy-trial grounds. The circuit court found that Defendant’s right to a speedy trial had been violated and dismissed the charges against her. The State appealed. The Supreme Court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss, holding that the State’s appeal was not authorized under Rule 3. View "State v. Seigel" on Justia Law

by
Zimmerman was arrested for theft of property over $25,000 and second-degree forgery on September 10, 2012. An information was filed on December 6. Zimmerman was arraigned on December 11 and was ordered to appear on February 19, 2013. On that date, she obtained a continuance. The circuit court subsequently granted her four additional continuance. On October 21, 2013, the state orally moved to nolle prosequi the charges, apparently based on Zimmerman’s agreement to pay restitution. The motion was orally granted. A written order granting the motion was filed on March 17, 2014. The state filed a new criminal information on August 7, 2014. Hearings were set for September 16, 2014, January 20, 2015, and April 21, 2015. On each date, Zimmerman failed to appear. On April 29, 2015, Zimmerman was arrested on a warrant issued when the charges were refiled. She appeared and was granted several continuances. On March 24, 2017, Zimmerman unsuccessfully moved to dismiss for failure to provide her with a speedy trial. The Supreme Court of Arkansas granted Zimmerman’s petition for certiorari. The nolle prosequi became effective when the written order was entered. The trial court erred in determining that speedy trial was tolled from October 21, 2013, to March 17, 2014. Adding 290 days to the 309-day period during which the trial court found that speedy trial was not tolled brings the total over the 365-day limit. Zimmerman’s right to speedy trial was violated. View "Zimmerman. v. Circuit Court of Miller County" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment and dismissal of Plaintiff’s civil rights and tort complaint on the ground of failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), filed a complaint against ADC officials in their individual capacities under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993 (ACRA), Ark. Code Ann. 16-123-101 to -108. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated his due process rights when they failed timely to release him from punitive isolation and that Defendants committed the torts of false imprisonment, negligence, and excessive confinement. The circuit court found that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his due process and tort claims as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PRLA), 42 U.S.C. 1997e. Because the PRLA is a federal law that is not applicable to actions brought against public officials in their individual capacities under ACRA and Arkansas tort law, the circuit court erred in granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiff’s case for failure to exhaust. View "Harmon v. Jackson" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s dismissal of Appellant’s pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus, wherein Appellant alleged that his life sentence was illegal pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012). In his petition, Appellant argued that because he was seventeen when he committed first-degree murder, his life sentence was void pursuant to Miller. The Supreme Court held (1) because Appellant’s life sentence was discretionary, the holding in Miller was not applicable and did not render Appellant’s life sentence facially illegal; and (2) because Appellant’s sentence of life imprisonment now carries with it the possibility of parole under the Fair Sentencing of Minors Act of 2017, Appellant’s contention that his sentence violated the requirements of Miller was incorrect. View "Johnson v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of Appellant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that the circuit court did not err when it found Appellant failed to state a ground for the writ. In 1997, Appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, and other offenses. Appellant argued in the instant habeas petition that he was innocent, among other claims. The circuit court found that Appellant’s claims were not cognizable in a writ of habeas corpus. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to state a ground for the writ or to demonstrate probable cause for the issuance of the writ. View "Collier v. Kelley" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s motion to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for a writ of audit querela, which the Court treated as a petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a writ of error coram nobis, or alternatively, for leave to file a postconviction petition in the trial court pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.2(a). The Court held (1) Petitioner failed to raise sufficient allegations that established entitlement to relief under coram nobis; and (2) because Petitioner’s Rule 37.2 petition was filed outside the three-year statute of limitations, he was not entitled to relief unless his assertions would render the judgment void, and the adequacy of Miranda warnings does not implicate a fundamental right that is capable of voiding the judgment. View "Munnerlyn v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s convictions for negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving, holding (1) because the refusal to submit to a blood test pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. 5-65-202 would result in the imposition of criminal penalties, as applied to Appellant, the statute is unconstitutional, and therefore, the circuit court clearly erred in finding that the blood draw from Appellant did not implicate the Fourth Amendment; and (2) the totality of the circumstances did not establish that Appellant either impliedly or voluntarily consented to the warrantless blood draw. View "Dortch v. State" on Justia Law