by
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

by
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

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s convictions of one count of rape and one count of sexual indecency with a child, for which Appellant was sentenced to concurrent terms of life and seventy-two months, respectively. On appeal, Appellant argued that the circuit court abused its discretion by admitting evidence that he performed similar sexual acts on two other young boys and on a physically disabled man. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the testimony of the two other boys was admissible under the pedophile exception to Ark. R. Civ. P. 404(b); and (2) the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting the testimony of the physically disabled man under the pedophile exception but did not abuse its discretion in admitting the testimony as independent-relevance evidence under Rule 404(b). View "Hortenberry v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for capital murder for which Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole in twenty-eight years. On appeal, Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and the admission of certain hearsay testimony. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in permitting hearsay testimony of an emergency medical technician regarding a statement the victim had made to him while receiving medical treatment under a hearsay exception; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for directed verdict because the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction for the murder of another person in the commission or attempted commission of a robbery. View "Hicks v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s ruling that defense counsel was not ineffective for failing to dismiss the drug offense charges against Defendant based on a speedy-trial violation. The circuit court found that sufficient excludable time periods should be charged against Defendant such that no speedy-trial violation occurred. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that counsel’s failure to raise a speedy-trial argument was not deficient because there was no speedy-trial violation and that Defendant failed to meet the first prong of Strickland. View "Turner v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s appeal from an order for the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion to suppress two statements he made, holding that the appeal was improper under the court’s rules. After the Supreme Court remanded the case for a new trial, the circuit court ruled that two of Defendant’s statements would be suppressed. On appeal, the State argued that the circuit court erred because it did not consider the totality of the circumstances and only considered Defendant’s mental incompetency when making its ruling. The Supreme Court held that this was not a proper State appeal because the State’s arguments were based on the application and not the interpretation of the court’s criminal rules. View "State v. Newman" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order dismissing misdemeanor negligent-homicide charges against Defendant due to the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. Before the circuit court, Defendant argued that because the criminal information had not been filed until more than one year after the accident that led to the charges occurred, the applicable statute of limitations had expired. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the circuit court erred in its interpretation of Ark. Code Ann. 5-1-109(f) and in concluding that the prosecution had not commenced within the applicable limitations period. View "State v. Ledwell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the habeas court denying Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Petitioner did not state a ground on which a writ of habeas corpus could be issued. Petitioner, an inmate incarcerated for several crimes, argued in his habeas petition that he was subjected to double jeopardy because the same elements that were used to prove that he committed rape were used to prove that he committed attempted rape. Petitioner also argued that the judgment was invalid because attempted rape is a lesser-included offense of rape. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court was not clearly erroneous in denying habeas relief, as the claims Petitioner raised in his petition were not within the purview of a habeas proceeding. View "Edwards v. Kelley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that Appellant’s attempt to waive his right to counsel and represent himself at trial was equivocal and the court's decision to proceed with Appellant’s original counsel. After Appellant requested to waive his right to counsel and represent himself at trial, Appellant engaged in multiple instances of uncertainty while being told of the consequences of self-representation. Therefore, the trial court ruled that Appellant’s invocation was equivocal. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Appellant’s attempt to waive counsel and self-represent was not sufficiently unequivocal. View "Reed v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to Petitioner, an inmate, to the extent it required Judge Edwin A. Keaton to rule on an outstanding pleading for postconviction relief but denied the request to direct Judge Keaton on how to rule on Petitioner’s claims. Petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder. Petitioner later filed a pleading seeking three separate avenues for postconviction relief. Judge Keaton did not rule on the claims. The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s request for a ruling on his claims for postconvicton relief but denied the request to compel Judge Keaton to grant the relief sought in Petitioner’s pleading, as “a motion or case should [not] be delayed beyond a time reasonably necessary to dispose of it.” View "Hill v. Keaton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law