Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis in which Appellant alleged that the State violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), suborned perjury, and breached the agreement he entered into with the State before entering a plea of guilty. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by treating Appellant’s coram nobis petition as a petition raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) Appellant did not demonstrate a Brady violation; (3) Appellant failed to establish that his plea was coerced; and (4) Appellant’s argument that he was actually innocent of the offense to which he pleaded guilty did not establish a ground for the writ. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Appellant’s pro se petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1. Appellant was convicted of kidnapping, rape, and aggravated robbery and was sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Appellant then filed a pro se Rule 37.1 petition alleging multiple claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied relief. Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the denial of Appellant’s motion for new trial in regard to some claims; (2) another claim raised by Appellant was waived on appeal; and (3) Appellant’s claim with respect to the trial court’s order in denying his motion for a new trial was not cognizable in a Rule 37.1 proceeding. View "Sylvester v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s appeal from the circuit court’s use of three nonmodel jury instructions at Appellee’s resentencing hearing, holding that the State failed to demonstrate that the appeal involved the correct and uniform administration of the law or that this was a proper State appeal. Appellee was resentenced after his life sentence was vacated for failure to comport with Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012). During the resentencing hearing, the circuit court instructed the jury with three nonmodel instructions based upon the Miller decision. The jury returned a sentence of forty years’ imprisonment, and the circuit court entered an order reducing Appellee’s sentence accordingly. The State appealed, arguing that the use of the nonmodel jury instruction was error. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that this was not a proper State appeal. View "State v. Lasley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he alleged that his sentence was illegally enhanced pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. 5-64-408. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s request for default judgment; (2) Appellant’s allegations failed to establish probable cause that the writ should issue; (3) the circuit court did not lack jurisdiction to sentence Appellant utilizing the enhancement in section 5-64-408; and (4) the circuit court did not err by failing to have an evidentiary hearing on the matter. View "Darrough v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s interlocutory appeal from the circuit court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to suppress. On appeal, the State argued that the circuit court erred (1) by interpreting Ark. R. Crim. P. 2.2 to invalidate the encounter between Defendant and the arresting officer, and (2) in concluding that the officer’s actions constituted a seizure. The Supreme Court held that this case was not properly before it under Ark. R. App. P.-Crim. 3 where this was a case involving the trial court’s consideration of the particular facts of the case and its determination that those facts did not provide reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop under rule 3.1. View "State v. McWilliams" on Justia Law

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In this case, one of three companion cases, Appellant appealed from sentencing orders entered after the original judgments of conviction, entered in 1978, were remanded in 2014 for resentencing. At issue in this appeal was whether the circuit court erred in denying Appellant’s request to run all of the sentences imposed on him on resentencing concurrent to each other. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the issue that Appellant raised on appeal did not directly relate to the case before the court, and therefore, there was no allegation of error in this case. View "Pennington v. State" on Justia Law

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The circuit court committed a manifest abuse of discretion in ruling that testimony regarding the victim’s prior sexual conduct with a third party would be admissible pursuant to the rape-shield statute, Ark. Code Ann. 16-42-101(c), and Ark. R. Evid. 411(c)(2)(C) where Defendant was charged with raping the victim while she was physically helpless. Defendant was charged with rape in violation of Ark. Code Ann. 5-14-103(a)(2)(A), which provides that a person commits rape if he engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with another person who is incapable of consent because that person is physically helpless. Before trial, the circuit court ruled that evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct from the day prior to the alleged rape would be admissible at Defendant’s trial as part of the res gestate of the case and to show the relationship between the parties. The Supreme Court reversed on interlocutory appeal, holding that the victim’s sexual conduct was not relevant or admissible under the rape-shield statute to show either the res gestate of the charged offense or the relationship between the parties. View "State v. Cossio" on Justia Law

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In this case, one of three companion cases, Appellant appealed from sentencing orders entered after the original judgments of conviction, entered in 1978, were remanded in 2014 for resentencing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, contrary to Appellant’s arguments on appeal, the circuit court had the authority to order that the sentences in one of the cases run consecutively to the sentences in the other two cases. Specifically, the court held (1) the trial court was permitted in 1978 to run Appellant’s sentences consecutively; and (2) as it was permissible in 1978 to sentence Appellant to the term of years imposed on resentencing and to run the sentences as ordered, the trial court did not exceed its jurisdiction in imposing Appellant’s sentence. View "Pennington v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s convictions for aggravated robbery and capital murder. On appeal, Appellant argued that the circuit court erred in denying his motions for directed verdict and abused its discretion by admitting into evidence gruesome and inflammatory photographs of the victim’s body. The Supreme Court held (1) there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could conclude that Appellant was an accomplice to the crimes, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s motions for directed verdict; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in admitting photographs of the victim’s body. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the denial of his pro se petition to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. 16-90-111, which rendered moot Appellant’s pro se motion for appointment of counsel and stay of briefing schedule in his pending pro se appeal. After his conviction for first-degree murder and other crimes Appellant was sentenced as a habitual offender to an aggregate term of life plus 360 months’ imprisonment. In his 16-90-111 petition, Petitioner argued that his sentences were imposed illegally in violation of the prohibition against double jeopardy. The trial court denied Appellant’s petition to correct an illegal sentence as untimely petition under Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.2. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not clearly err when it denied Appellant’s petition because the petition was untimely and the sentences did not violate the prohibition against double jeopardy. View "Jenkins v. State" on Justia Law