Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal challenging the circuit court's order denying Appellants' motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment for Appellees, holding that the circuit court's order was not a final order. Appellees filed a class-action complaint against Appellants, online travel companies (OTCs), alleging that the OTCs had failed to collect or collected and failed to remit the full amount of gross-receipts taxes imposed by government entities on hotel accommodations. The circuit court granted partial summary judgment for Appellees on the issue of liability. Appellants appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that where the circuit court stated that its order was preliminary and that it was retaining jurisdiction to determine the appropriate relief, and where the court did not enter an Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certification, the order was not final. View "Hotels.com, L.P. v. Pine Bluff Advertising" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Walt & Lee Keenihan Foundation, Inc.'s (Foundation) motion for summary judgment and dismissing Heritage Properties Limited Partnership's (Heritage) complaint seeking to set aside an alleged fraudulent conveyance to the Foundation pursuant to a transfer on death (TOD) beneficiary designation on an account owned by Leta Keenihan, holding that the circuit court erred in deciding this case by summary judgment. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court clearly had jurisdiction in the present case; (2) Heritage, as a creditor, had standing to pursue its claim under the Fraudulent Transfer Act against the Foundation as the transferee; and (3) Heritage was not required to present evidence of Keenihan's intent at the time of the TOD designation, but the evidence raised a factual issue precluding summary judgment as to whether Keenihan reasonably should have believed that she would incur debts beyond her ability to pay. View "Heritage Properties Limited Partnership v. Walt & Lee Keenihan Foundation, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's pro se motion requesting copies of his case file pursuant to Ark. R. App. P.-Crim. 19(b), holding that Petitioner did not demonstrate a compelling need for paper copies. At issue was Petitioner's request that the Supreme Court order Gregg Parrish, executive director of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission, to provide paper copies of the material contained on an electronic disk provided to Parrish by the circuit court. Parrish responded that he did not possess paper copies of a client file and was not obligated to convert the electronically stored material to paper. The Supreme Court denied the motion, holding that Petitioner made no showing of a compelling need for paper copies of the electronically stored material. View "Epps v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Shelter Mutual Insurance Company on Plaintiffs' claim arising from medical expenses they incurred following an automobile accident, holding that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the language in the relevant insurance policy was ambiguous or, in the alternative, the policy language was against public policy and should be declared void. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the applicable policy language was not ambiguous, and the policy was not against the public policy of the State of Arkansas; and (2) Plaintiffs' argument that the trial court erred in denying their motion in limine was moot. View "Crockett v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the circuit court's denial of Appellant's pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that Appellant's habeas petition was clearly without merit. Appellant filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in the circuit court, arguing, inter alia, that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter a judgment reflecting Appellant's conviction on a charge of second-degree murder as a habitual offender. The circuit court denied the dismissed the petition. Appellant appealed and filed pro se motions in which he sought a copy of documents from the record on appeal in order to prepare his brief and some accommodation for the delay in filing his brief. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, which rendered the motions moot, holding that Appellant's habeas petition was clearly without merit. View "Rainer v. Kelley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's action against the University of Arkansas, the Trustees of the University of Arkansas, and several individuals, both in their individual and official capacities, holding that the circuit court properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err by requiring Plaintiff to pay for counsel of the representatives of a class of students implicated in his 2015 Arkansas Freedom of Information Act data request; (2) did not err by dismissing Plaintiff's claims for monetary relief against the official-capacity defendants based on sovereign immunity; (3) did not err by dismissing individual-capacity claims against two individuals; (4) did not err in finding that Plaintiff's individual capacity claims under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act failed to state claims for which relief could be granted; and (5) properly dismissed Plaintiff's tortious interference with a contract claim and civil conspiracy claim. Finally, the Court held that the University did not waive its sovereign immunity on a claim under the Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act. View "Steinbuch v. University of Arkansas" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellant's petition for post conviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1, holding that the circuit court correctly denied Appellant's Rule 37.1 petition. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court (1) did not clearly err by finding that trial counsel's failure to obtain a forensic evaluation prior to Appellant's pleading guilty was not ineffective assistance; (2) did not err in finding that trial counsel was not ineffective by failing to file any pretrial motions to suppress or motions in limine before permitting Appellant to enter his plea; and (3) did not apply the wrong legal standard in ruling on Appellant's petition. View "Roos v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant's two capital murder convictions, a firearm enhancement, and Appellant's sentence of death, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion in limiting Appellant's use of hypotheticals during voir dire; (2) did not abuse its discretion in concluding that a juror that Appellant argued should have been struck for cause could perform the duties of a juror; (3) did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant's mistrial motion; (4) did not err in denying Appellant's request for an admonition; (5) did not abuse its discretion in allowing the State to play a tape recording of a 911 call; (5) did not err in admitting an aggravating circumstance to the jury; and (6) did not abuse its discretion in allowing the State's argument, during closing, that the jury should consider the victim-impact testimony as an aggravator. View "Reid v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of Appellant's motion for continuance to obtain an independent mental evaluation before convicting him of attempted capital murder, kidnapping, and theft of property, holding that Appellant failed to demonstrate any prejudicial from the denial of the continuance. Appellant sought a continuance to obtain an independent examination to support an affirmative defense of lack of criminal responsibility. The circuit court continued trial to accommodate the examination. After the examination returned unfavorable results, Appellant sought a continuance to obtain an independent evaluation. The circuit court denied the continuance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly denied the request on the grounds that Appellant had not acted diligently; and (2) Appellant failed to demonstrate any resulting prejudice amounting to a denial of justice. View "Hendrix v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Appellant's pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis, rendering moot Appellant's request to file a belated reply brief, holding that Appellant did not demonstrate that the trial court abused its discretion in declining to issue the writ. In addition to his coram nobis petition Appellant filed a motion in which he sought to modify the record by removing portions that he alleged the trial court incorrectly considered and to seal the record. The Supreme Court denied Appellant's motion to modify and seal the record and denied Appellant's coram nobis petition, holding that Appellant's petition was clearly without merit. View "Gordon v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law