Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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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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Defendant, who was sixteen years old at the time of his arrest, was charged as an adult with robbery and aggravated assault. Defendant was subsequently interviewed by police in connection with an assault of a female. The day after he made a statement, Defendant was charged as an adult with residential burglary, sexual assault in the second degree, and aggravated assault. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the statement he made to police. The circuit court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that Defendant was unable to waive his right to counsel because he was in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services at the time of the interview. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in its interpretation of Ark. Code Ann. 9-27-317(g) and therefore erred in granting Defendant’s motion to suppress. View "State v. Griffin" on Justia Law

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When he was fifteen years old, Z.L. was charged as an adult of rape. An Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction (EJJ) adjudication order was entered, and Z.L. was committed to the Arkansas Division of Youth Services (DYS). When Z.L. was twenty-one, DYS released him, and Z.L.’s case was set for a hearing in the circuit court to consider imposition of an adult sentence. After a hearing, the circuit court entered an order in the juvenile division finding that Z.L.’s case should be transferred to the criminal division. A second juvenile order was subsequently entered finding that an adult sentence was appropriate. Z.L. was sentenced to twenty-five years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Z.L. appealed, arguing that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to impose an adult sentence because he had reached the age of twenty-one before the EJJ review hearing was scheduled and conducted and before the sentencing order was entered. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed and dismissed the case, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to conduct an EJJ review hearing and impose an adult sentence on Z.L. View "Z.L. v. State" on Justia Law

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Appellant N.D. was a juvenile when he was adjudicated delinquent for commission of aggravated robbery and possession of a weapon. After N.D. escaped from the detention center, the State filed a felony information charging N.D. as an adult with capital murder, escape in the first degree, aggravated robbery, theft of property, and second-degree battery. After the Supreme Court reversed the criminal court's denial of N.D.'s motion to transfer his case to the juvenile court, the criminal court transferred N.D.'s case to juvenile court. The juvenile court subsequently entered a decision that N.D. be designated for extended juvenile jurisdiction (EJJ). N.D. appealed, asserting that the criminal court already declined to make such a designation, and because the Supreme Court did not reverse that refusal in N.D.'s first appeal, the issue was decided by law of the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Court did not previously reach a decision or provide direction to the criminal court with respect to EJJ designation, nor did the criminal court make a decision regarding EJJ designation, and so the law-of-the case doctrine did not bar the juvenile court from granting the State's motion for an EJJ designation. View "N.D. v. State" on Justia Law

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Sixteen-year-old C.B. was charged with the felony offenses of, inter alia, capital murder, aggravated robbery, first-degree escape, and theft of property. C.B. filed a motion to dismiss and to declare Ark. Code Ann. 9-27-318 unconstitutional and a motion to transfer to juvenile court. In challenging the constitutionality of section 9-27-318, C.B. contended that the statute, among other things, violated the separation of powers doctrine by improperly vesting in the local prosecuting attorney power to determine which court has initial jurisdiction over certain classes of juveniles. The circuit court denied both motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 9-27-318 was constitutional; and (2) the circuit court did not clearly err in denying C.B.'s motion to transfer. View "C.B. v. State" on Justia Law

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S.L. was charged with one count of rape in the juvenile division of the circuit court. Before the adjudication hearing, S.L. filed a motion to dismiss for violation of his right to a speedy trial, which the circuit court denied. S.L. then filed another motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial, which the circuit court granted. The State appealed. After noting that the State's appeal under these circumstances required the Supreme Court's review for the correct and uniform administration of the criminal law under Ark. R. App. P.-Crim. 3(d) instead of relying on facts unique to the case, the Court dismissed the appeal, as it did not have at issue the correct and uniform administration of justice and, instead, involved the application of the Court's speedy-trial rules to the unique facts of the case. View "State v. S.L." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a dependency-neglect proceeding. After a permanency-planning hearing was set, the circuit court discovered that the Department of Human Services (DHS) had failed to draft and put into place a case plan. The court then ordered that, as the case worker had forty-one cases on her caseload and fifty juveniles in fostercare, DHS should rectify the issue in five days. DHS subsequently filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, asserting that the circuit court exceeded its jurisdiction and violated the separation-of-powers doctrine by issuing an order that DHS alleged invaded the discretionary functions of the executive branch. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the circuit court was within its jurisdiction to act to protect the integrity of the proceedings and to safeguard the rights of the litigants before it when it ordered DHS to correct problems that were preventing work and services. View "Ark. Dep't of Human Servs. v. Shelby" on Justia Law

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After appellant N.D. escaped from a juvenile detention center and attacked a security guard, who later died, the state filed a felony information in circuit court, charging N.C. with capital murder, escape in the first degree, and six other criminal counts. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss and to declare the juvenile-transfer statute, Ark. Code Ann 9-27-318(e), unconstitutional. Appellant subsequently filed a motion to transfer to juvenile court. The circuit court denied appellant's motion to dismiss and to declare the transfer statute unconstitutional and subsequently denied appellant's motion to transfer to juvenile court. Appellant appealed, arguing that the circuit court abused its discretion in allowing two witnesses to testify who were not disclosed in discovery, erred in ruling that the transfer statute was constitutional, and erred in denying his motion to transfer. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order denying appellant's motion to transfer, holding that based on prejudicial discovery violations, the circuit court abused its discretion by not excluding the testimony of the two witnesses. Because the circuit court's decision was reversed on this basis, the Court did not address the remaining arguments on appeal. View "N.D. v. State" on Justia Law

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The State appealed an order of the circuit court transferring appellee’s criminal case to the juvenile division of circuit court, asserting that the circuit court’s order granting the transfer was clearly erroneous. According to Ark. R. of App. P. Crim. 3, the appellant may not bring an interlocutory appeal from a juvenile-transfer order. The State argued it was not required to satisfy the requirements of Rule 3, as its right to appeal is derived from Ark. Code Ann. 9-27-318(l), which provides that any party may appeal from a transfer order. Based on precedent, when there is a conflict between the court’s procedural rules and a statutory provision, the statute is given deference only to the extent it is compatible with the rules. The Court held Rule 3 and Section 9-27-318(l) to be in direct conflict with each other and determined that Rule 3 governed the appeal. Because the appeal was not specifically permitted by the rule, the appeal was dismissed. View "State v. A.G." on Justia Law