Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State's interlocutory appeal from the circuit court's grant of David Reynolds's motion to suppress evidence seized from a search of his cell phone, holding that this was not a proper State appeal. The State appealed under Rule 3 of the Arkansas Rules of Appellate Procedure-Criminal. Noting that an appeal is permitted by Rule 3 when the issue presented is whether the circuit court erred in its interpretation of the law and that the Court does not accept an appeal by the State when the circuit court's decision turns on facts unique to the case or involves a mixed question of law and fact, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the correct and uniform administration of the criminal law was not at issue in this case. View "State v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order denying Appellant a resentencing hearing and imposing a life sentence with parole eligibility pursuant to the Fair Sentencing with Minors Act of 2017 (FSMA), holding that the penalty provisions of the FSMA did not apply to Appellant. In 2000, Appellant pled guilty to capital murder and received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Appellant was sixteen years old at the time of the murder. After the United States Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), the circuit court granted habeas relief and vacated Appellant's life-without-parole sentence and remanded his case for resentencing. Before a resentencing hearing was held, however, the General Assembly passed the FSMA, which eliminated life without parole as a sentencing option for juvenile offenders and extended parole eligibility to juvenile offenders. On remand, the circuit court sentenced Appellant under the FSMA to life in prison with parole eligibility after thirty years. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because Appellant committed his crime before the effective date of the FMSA, the penalty provisions of the Act did not apply to him; and (2) Appellant was no longer serving a sentence to which parole eligibility could attach. View "Elliott v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from the judgment of the trial court dismissing Appellant's pro se petition and two amendments in which he sought a writ of audita querela, thus rendering moot Appellant's pro se motion in which he sought to file his reply brief belatedly, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief. Appellant was convicted of furnishing prohibited articles. Appellant later filed his petition and amendments seeking a writ of audita querela. The trial court dismissed Appellant's petition and amendments on the ground that the writ of audita querela is not recognized and, therefore, the court was without jurisdiction to modify the judgment. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal, holding that he could not prevail on appeal because, although the trial court had jurisdiction to provide relief through a writ of error coram nobis, Appellant stated no basis for issuance of the writ. View "Gonder v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of two counts of premeditated and deliberate capital murder and sentencing him to life imprisonment without parole for each murder, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion or deprive Appellant of his constitutional right to present a defense by excluding evidence that Appellant argued linked another person to the crimes; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in allowing testimony concerning what a person could see with a telescopic sight mounted on Appellant's rifle. View "Barefield v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from the denial of his pro se petition to proceed in forma paupers in a habeas proceeding, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Appellant should not be permitted to proceed at public expense. In denying the petition for writ of habeas corpus the circuit court found that the petition did not contain a colorable cause of action. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal, which rendered moot Appellant's motion for extension of time to file his brief-in-chief, holding that Appellant's assertions and allegations were either not cognizable in habeas proceedings or brought without factual substantiation or development. View "Watson v. Kelley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State's appeal from the circuit court's decision to dismiss criminal charges against Defendant for violation of his speedy-trial rights, holding that Ark. R. App. P.-Crim. 3(d) prohibited this Court from considering the appeal. Defendant was arrested based on allegations that he had sexually assaulted his children. After the trial court granted the State six continuances Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for violation of his speedy-trial rights. The circuit court granted the motion. The State appealed, arguing that the case turned purely on an issue of law. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Rule 3(d) did not allow this Court to consider the State's appeal because the circuit court's decision to dismiss the charges turned upon the specific facts of this particular case. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of Appellant's petition for postconvicton relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37, holding that the performance of Appellant's trial counsel was not deficient, and therefore, the circuit court's denial of Appellant's Rule 37 petition was not clearly erroneous. Appellant was convicted of one count of first-degree battery and one count of second-degree battery. After Appellant's convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal, Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to investigate and call certain witnesses. The circuit court denied Appellant's petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to meet his burden under the first prong of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), because he did not demonstrate that his trial counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. View "Hinton v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis, holding that Petitioner failed to raise a ground that was cognizable in coram nobis proceedings and failed to demonstrate that the writ should issue. Petitioner was convicted of aggravated robbery and first-degree battery and sentenced to 360 months' imprisonment. The court of appeals affirmed. In his petition for leave to reinvest jurisdiction for coram nobis proceedings, Petitioner challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that that Petitioner's claims constituted a direct attack on the judgment and were not cognizable in a coram nobis proceeding. View "West v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from the order of the circuit court denying Appellant's petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that the circuit court's decision to deny Appellant's petition was not clearly erroneous. Appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 240 months' imprisonment. In his habeas petition, Appellant claimed that the writ should issue because his attorney gave him incorrect information concerning the laws governing speedy trial requirements and misled him about the expected testimony of a witness. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal, which mooted the motions filed in connection with the appeal, holding that Appellant's claims were not cognizable in habeas corpus proceedings. View "Bell v. Gibson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's denial of Appellant's request for postconviction relief under Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, holding that the Rule 37.1 petition failed to raise a meritorious claim. Appellant was convicted of capital murder and other charges and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the murder charge plus a consecutive term of years for the remaining charges. Appellant filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel on three bases. The trial court summarily denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to show clear error in the summary denial of postconviction relief by the trial court. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law