Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s second petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to file a petition for writ of error coram nobis, holding that there was no merit to Petitioner’s allegations and that Petitioner did not exercise due diligence in bringing his claims. In 2009, Petitioner was found guilty of the rape of a five-year-old girl. In his claims for issuance of the writ, Petitioner argued that the prosecutor committed misconduct and violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding (1) Petitioner failed to establish a Brady violation; and (2) Petitioner failed to exercise due diligence in bringing this second coram nobis petition. View "Henington v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief under Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, holding that Appellant failed to challenge the basis for the circuit court’s dismissal of his petition on appeal. The trial court dismissed Appellant’s postconviction petition without addressing the merits, finding that Appellant had failed to file it within the time allotted under Rule 37. On appeal, Appellant did not argue that the trial court erred in ruling that his petition was untimely filed. The Supreme Court affirmed because Appellant failed to challenge the trial court’s finding that his petition was not timely. View "Friar v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of rape and sentencing him to a term of life imprisonment, holding that the court did not abuse its discretion in granting the State’s motion in liming to exclude evidence that the victim had filed a lawsuit against the owners of an apartment complex where the rape occurred. On appeal, Defendant argued that evidence of the victim’s civil suit was relevant to the issues of bias and credibility because a guilty verdict in the criminal case might aid the victim’s recovery in the civil matter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s failure to make a proffer of excluded evidence precluded appellate review. View "Sharp v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Petitioner’s petition for writ of mandamus in which he requested that the circuit judge assigned to his criminal case to enter an order on a petition for postconviction relief, holding that Petitioner failed to show a clear and certain right to the relief. The Supreme Court held that because the judge responded indicating that the matter was under consideration and proceeding, Petitioner failed to show that the delay in this case was one extending beyond the time reasonably necessary to dispose of the matter. Therefore, relief was not merited on the petition. View "Wallace v. Honorable Leon Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and capital murder and his sentence of death, holding that there were no errors in the proceedings below that were prejudicial to Defendant. Specifically, the Court held (1) no prejudicial error occurred when the circuit court permitted the jury to consider the death of the victim’s unborn child as an aggravating circumstance; (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it permitted the prosecution to present rebuttal testimony; (3) the circuit court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in allowing the State to make certain comments during the penalty-phase rebuttal closing argument; (4) the circuit court properly instructed the jury; and (5) the jury did not act arbitrarily when it chose not to find Defendant’s history, or lack thereof, of criminal activity to be worth of mitigating the punishment for his crime. View "Smith v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that the circuit court did not err in rejecting Appellant’s claim that he was subject to double jeopardy and that the sentence imposed on him was illegal. Appellant pleaded guilty to rape and incest. Appellant filed a habeas petition arguing that his sentence was illegal because he was found guilty of both rape and incest and because the judgment-and-commitment order required that he complete special program for sexual offenders while in prison. The Supreme Court held (1) Appellant did not meet hid burden of establishing that his double-jeopardy claim was cognizable in a proceeding for a writ of habeas corpus; and (2) the circuit court did not err in finding that the judgment-and-commitment order did not include a special condition of incarceration as part of Appellant’s sentence. View "Sims v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder and sentence of life imprisonment, holding that there was no abuse of discretion or error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court did not err by denying Defendant’s motions to exclude testimony of an expert witness, an agent of the FBI, and Defendant’s motion for mistrial for use of the witness’s testimony for alleged discovery violations because Defendant failed to establish a Brady violation; and (2) Defendant failed to preserve for appeal his argument that the circuit court erred in allowing the admission of “content” based text messages in response to a subpoena without a warrant. View "Duck v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Fletcher was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole plus an additional 15 years for using a firearm in the commission of the crime. Fletcher’s attorney filed a no-merit brief pursuant to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-3(k) (2017) and Anders v. California, asserting that there are no nonfrivolous issues for appeal, stating that the trial court did not commit reversible error in denying Fletcher’s motions for a directed verdict; the sentence imposed was allowed pursuant to the capital-murder statute; and the trial court did not commit reversible error in allowing the introduction of testimony from two witnesses and a drawing from a third witness. Fletcher has filed pro se points disputing the points counsel argued and also alleging that his appellate counsel was ineffective. The Supreme Court of Arkansas granted the motion to withdraw. Fletcher does not dispute that he caused the victim’s death, but only argued that the state failed to prove that he acted with premeditation and deliberate purpose; substantial evidence supports the verdict. Fletcher was not unfairly prejudiced and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the drawing. View "Fletcher v. Arkansas" on Justia Law

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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