Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. In his habeas petition, Appellant argued that he should be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea because the State did not adhere to the terms of the negotiated plea agreement and because, when he entered his plea, he did not agree to serve seventy percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. In other words, while Appellant admitted that the original judgment and sentence were valid, Appellant argued that the State’s failure to abide by the terms of the plea agreement rendered the judgment void. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellant failed to state a ground for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. View "Taylor v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s pro se petition for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a civil matter. Appellant, an inmate, first sought release of certain documents from his criminal file and the confirmation by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory of the existence of certain evidence. Appellant’s request was denied. Thereafter, Appellant sought to proceed as a pauper so that he could file a pro se petition for writ of mandamus to obtain the evidence. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s petition to proceed in forma pauperis was clearly erroneous given Appellant’s indigency status and his petition sufficiently stating a colorable cause of action. View "Penn v. Gallagher" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court treated Petitioner’s pro se motion for belated appeal and rule on clerk as a motion for belated appeal under Ark. R. App. P-Crim. 2(e), rather than as a motion for rule on clerk, and denied the petition. In his motion, Petitioner asked that he be permitted to proceed with an appeal of a circuit court order denying his petition and amended petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1. Because Petitioner failed to establish good cause for his delay in acting in this matter, the Supreme Court denied the motion. View "Matar v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from a pre-plea denial of a motion for continuance. Appellant, who was represented by a public defender, was sentenced to life in prison following a plea of guilty to plea. Before the plea agreement proceedings began, Appellant requested a continuance so that he could hire private counsel. The circuit court denied the request. Appellant’s sole argument on appeal was that the circuit court wrongly denied him his constitutional right to choice of counsel when it denied his continuance. The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the appeal did not fall within the limited circumstances under which the court may hear appeals following guilty pleas. View "Burns v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s convictions for capital murder and first-degree murder. The jury sentenced to Appellant life imprisonment without parole for capital murder and life imprisonment for first-degree murder. Contrary to Appellant’s arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in determining that Appellant was competent to stand trial; and (2) the circuit court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury as to Appellant’s mental state at the time of the offense. Further, in accordance with Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-3(i), the court examined the record of all objections, motions, and requests that were decided adversely to Cage, and no prejudicial error was found. View "Cage v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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 the circuit court’s dismissal of Appellant’s petition for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus pertaining to the statutes that governed his parole-eligibility dates. Specifically, Appellant claimed he was parole eligible and had a right to a parole hearing. The circuit court dismissed the petition with prejudice, concluding that no justiciable controversy existed because Appellant was parole eligible and had a parole hearing. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s petition for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus on the grounds that no justiciable controversy exists. View "Rogers v. Knight" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentence Defendant received in connection with his guilty plea to rape and attempted murder. A jury sentenced Defendant to a term of life imprisonment for rape plus sixty years on the charge of attempted first-degree murder. The circuit court ordered the sentences to be served consecutively. Defendant requested the maximum sentence in open court. Defendant, however, appealed, challenging his sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence and granted appellate counsel’s motion to withdraw, holding that certain adverse rulings challenged by Defendant did not provide meritorious grounds for reversal, and therefore, an appeal would be wholly frivolous. View "Jones v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37. In 2014, Appellant pleaded guilty to murder in the first degree and to tampering with physical evidence. The circuit court sentenced Appellant to 420 months’ imprisonment for his first-degree murder charge, to be served concurrently with a 72-month term for his tampering-with-physical-evidence charge. Thereafter, Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief, arguing that his counsel provided ineffective assistance. The circuit court denied the petition after an evidentiary hearing. Appellant later filed a motion for rule on clerk. The Supreme Court granted the motion and limited its review to the denial of Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant abandoned his Rule 37 claims on appeal. View "Holloway v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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