Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law

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Resolution No. R-2016-16 referred Ordinance No. O-2016-16, which amended an existing sales-and-use tax ordinance to change the indicated use of revenues, to the voters for approval or rejection in a special election to be held on March 14, 2016. Ordinance No. O-2016-17 called a special election on the question of issuing bonds for the construction of a new courthouse in Blytheville in Mississippi County. Appellees filed a petition seeking a temporary and permanent injunction of the March 14, 2016 special election. The circuit court granted Appellees’ petition for a permanent injunction of the special election, ruling that Act 81 of 1901 invalidated the ordinances and resolution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by enjoining a special election on the grounds that Act 81 of 1901 prohibits an ordinance that authorizes the issuance of bonds to finance the new courthouse. View "Mississippi County v. City of Osceola" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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At issue in this case was the sufficiency of signatures counted by Mark Martin, the Secretary of State, in the initial ballot petition, “The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.” The Act was on the November 8, 2016 ballot and was sponsored by Arkansans for Compassionate Care 2016. The sponsor initially submitted 117,547 signatures. Martin validated 77,516 signatures. In challenging the sufficiency of the petition, Kara Benca needed to invalidate 9,629 signatures to have the petition removed. A special master appointed by the Supreme Court found that 2,087 signatures were disqualified but that the remainder of the signatures could be counted. The Supreme Court disallowed 12,104 signatures, leaving approximately 2,465 fewer signatures than required to satisfy constitutional requirements. View "Benca v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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This case concerned the proposed constitutional amendment known as An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees and Non-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits. The Attorney General certified the popular name, as modified, and ballot title of the proposed constitutional amendment, and the Secretary of State certified the proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot for the November 8 general election. Petitioners brought this original action asking the Supreme Court to declare the ballot title of the proposed amendment insufficient. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that the ballot title was insufficient. View "Wilson v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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This case concerned the proposed constitutional amendment known as An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees and Non-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits. Petitioners brought this original action seeking an order to invalidate the proposed amendment, alleging failure to comply with mandatory canvasser certification laws, failure to submit the requisite number of verified signatures, and insufficiency of the amendment’s ballot title. This opinion addressed the sufficiency of the ballot title. The Supreme Court granted the petition to enjoin the Secretary of State from counting or certifying ballots cast for the amendment, holding that the ballot title of the proposed amendment was insufficient. View "Ross v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Arkansas Attorney General issued an opinion approving the popular name and ballot title for a proposed constitutional amendment known as The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. Petitioner, individually and on behalf of Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, brought this original action challenging the sufficiency of the ballot title of the proposed amendment, alleging that the ballot title contains misleading statements and omits material information that is essential for a fair understanding of the amendment. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that voters in the upcoming November election will be able to reach an intelligent and informed decision for or against the proposed amendment. View "Rose v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Issue No. 5 was a proposed constitutional amendment to allow three casinos to operate in three counties in Arkansas. The Secretary of State certified to place Issue No. 5 on the November 8, 2016 ballot. Petitioners, individually and on behalf of the Committee to Protect Arkansas’ Values/Stop Casinos Now, brought this original action challenging the legal sufficiency of the ballot title for Issue No. 5. The Sponsors of the Act intervened in this matter and filed a motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court denied the motion to dismiss and granted the petition, holding that the ballot title of the proposed amendment was insufficient. View "Lange v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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On July 7, 2016, the Secretary of State certified that The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act had met the constitutional signature requirements in order to place the proposed initiated act on the Arkansas general election ballot of November 8, 2016. Dr. Melanie Conway, both individually and on behalf of Arkansas Against Legalized Marijuana, brought this original action challenging the legal sufficiency of the Act’s ballot title. Arkansas for Compassionate Care 2016 successfully moved to intervene in the action in support of the Act’s ballot title. The Supreme Court denied Conway’s petition, holding that Conway did not meet her burden of proving that the ballot title was legally insufficient. View "Conway v. Martin" on Justia Law

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In 1995, Josh Johnston pled guilty to a Class A misdemeanor hot-check violation. In 2014, Johnston filed to run as a candidate for Celburne County Sheriff. Brian Haile, a registered voter in Cleburne County, filed a petition for declaratory judgment and a writ of mandamus requesting that the circuit court find the misdemeanor hot-check violation an infamous crime that rendered Johnston ineligible to run for or hold public office. The circuit court ruled that Johnston's previous conviction rendered him eligible to run for or hold public office. Later in 2014, the circuit court entered an order sealing Johnston’s misdemeanor conviction. In 2015, Johnson filed as a candidate for Cleburne County Sheriff. Haile again filed a petition for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus alleging that Johnston was ineligible to serve and that the court’s 2014 order controlled. The circuit court dismissed Haile’s petition, concluding that Johnston’s record was sealed and expunged, and Johnston was therefore eligible to run for and hold public office. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of Ark. Code Ann. 16-90-1417 dictates that it is as if Johnston never had the misdemeanor conviction, and therefore, Johnston is eligible to run for and hold office. View "Haile v. Johnston" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Appellant, Floyd Gray, filed a complaint for injunctive relief and declaratory judgment seeking to challenge the eligibility of Appellee, Mary Thomas-Barnes, as a candidate in the mayoral election in Dermott, Arkansas. Appellant alleged that Appellee was a convicted felon and therefore asked for a declaration that Appellee was unqualified to seek election. The circuit court dismissed Appellant’s complaint based on lack of jurisdiction, concluding that Appellant’s pleading, which was filed the day before the election, was an attempt to bring a pre-election challenge by post-election means. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal as moot because the election had already been held. View "Gray v. Thomas-Barnes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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In 2013, the General Assembly passed Act 1413 of 2013, which made numerous changes to the portions of the Arkansas Code pertaining to initiatives and referenda. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a complaint against Mark Martin, in his official capacity as the Secretary of State, alleging that certain sections of the Act violated the Seventh Amendment of the state Constitution. Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin Secretary Martin from enforcing the Act. Dustin McDaniel, acting in his official capacity as Attorney General, intervened in the action. The circuit court concluded that certain provisions of Act 1413 violated the Constitution because the provisions would cause citizens to lose their ability to propose legislative measures and laws directly to the people. The court then permanently enjoined Secretary Martin from enforcing those portions of the Act. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that some of the sections of the Act declared unconstitutional by the circuit court were, in fact, constitutional. View "McDaniel v. Spencer" on Justia Law