Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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In this case, the Supreme Court of Arkansas affirmed the denial of declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus petitions filed by Charles Sims, an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). Sims had sought a declaration that he was eligible for parole, contrary to the determination made by ADC. The court affirmed the circuit court's finding that Sims was ineligible for parole according to the Arkansas Code.Sims had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 1995 and was paroled in 2007. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to first-degree battery and kidnapping, and was sentenced to concurrent terms of 180 months' imprisonment to run concurrently with his remaining sentence for first-degree murder. ADC records applied section 16-93-609 to Sims’s sentence for battery and kidnapping, determining him ineligible for parole.The court held that Sims had failed to establish a justiciable controversy or that he had a legal interest in the controversy, two prerequisites for declaratory relief. The court also noted that parole eligibility determinations fall within the purview of ADC, not the judiciary. The court further held that the absence of a reference to the parole-eligibility statute in the judgment did not constitute a requirement for parole eligibility.The court also dismissed Sims's argument that section 5-4-501(d)(2) was inapplicable to him, holding that the court has applied the relevant sections when the prior conviction consisted of only one offense. The court concluded that Sims had not established a right to parole eligibility, and therefore had no basis for the issuance of a writ of mandamus. The court affirmed the circuit court's decisions, ruling it did not clearly err or abuse its discretion when it denied and dismissed Sims's petitions for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus. View "SIMS v. DEXTER PAYNE, DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Petitioner had failed to state a ground for the writ.Petitioner pled guilty to rape and aggravated robbery and was sentenced as a habitual offender. In his habeas corpus petition, Petitioner alleged that he was innocent of the offense of rape, that the State maliciously applied the habitual offender statute in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and that the Arkansas statute requiring that he serve 100 percent of his sentence was unconstitutional. The circuit court found that the claims were not cognizable in habeas and noted that parole eligibility falls within the domain of the executive branch. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err. View "White v. Payne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the Arkansas Racing Commission's (ARC) decision to award the Pope County casino license to Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC (CNB) and Legends Resort and Casino, LLC (Legends) was a "legal nullity, void and of no effect," holding that the circuit court did not err.In this third iteration of appeals involving the issuance of the license Gulfside Casino Partnership (Gulfside) argued that the ARC's action was ultra vires because it was issued in violation of the clear language of amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Gulfside, concluding that the casino license issued by the ARC jointly to CNB and Legends was an ultra vires action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its decision. View "Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC v. Gulfside Casino Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant's petition and amended petition for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus wherein Defendant alleged that the Arkansas Department of Correction illegally changed his discharge date, holding that the circuit court correctly denied the petition and amended petition.After being sentenced in 2007, Defendant was paroled in 2015. Defendant was taken into custody a year later. In his petition and amended petition Defendant alleged that after revocation of his parole and his return to prison, he was informed that his discharge date had been illegally moved. The circuit court denied the petition for failure to state a claim for relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant's petitions for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus. View "Andrews v. Payne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment to the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) upholding DFA's amended and corrected notices of final assessment of Appellants' tax burden for the tax years 2015 through 2017, holding that DFA failed to provide sufficient evidence to meet its prima facie burden of proof for summary judgment.Appellants sued DFA in circuit court challenging the notices of final assessment. The circuit court granted summary judgment for DFA. On appeal, Appellants argued that the evidence presented was not prima facie proof of DFA's calculation of Appellants' net taxable income. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that a material dispute of fact existed regarding the amounts of Appellants' taxable income for 2015 through 2017, and therefore, summary judgment was improper. View "Gates v. Walther" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner's petition for writ of mandamus or other supervisory writ, granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and its director (collectively, AGFC) and dismissing Petitioner's complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, holding that there was no error.Petitioner brought this complaint seeking a declaration that holders of an Enhanced Concealed Carry License (ECCL) may carry concealed firearms in AGFC buildings and facilities, a declaration that AGFC illegally refused to permit his entrance, and an injunction prohibiting AGFC from denying ECCL holders entrance into AGFC buildings with firearms. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly denied Petitioner's motion for summary judgment and granted AGFC's motion for judgment on the pleadings. View "Corbitt v. Ark. Game & Fish Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellants' complaint alleging that the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission had granted a marijuana cultivation license to a corporate entity that had been dissolved, holding that the circuit court correctly dismissed this appeal on the merits.Appellants, existing cultivation license holders, challenged the Commission's decision to allegedly grant a license to a dissolved corporate entity, arguing that the circuit court erred by holding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction and wrongly held that Appellants lacked standing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court (1) erred by not finding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction and that Appellants lacked standing; but (2) properly dismissed the complaint because it failed to allege facts sufficient to mount the State's sovereign immunity defense. View "Osage Creek Cultivation, LLC v. Ark. Dep't of Finance & Administration" on Justia Law

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In this class action, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's judgment that certain sanitation fees constituted an illegal exaction and that the City of Fort Smith was unjustly enriched because the class paid money expecting to receive recycling services, holding that the circuit court clearly erred.Plaintiff, on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Fort Smith (class), brought this action against the City after discovering that Fort Smith was dumping almost all of its recyclables in a landfill, claiming that Fort Smith's collection of monthly sanitation charges, including recycling fees, was an illegal exaction and that the City had been unjustly enriched. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the action, holding (1) because Fort Smith used the sanitation fee to collect and dispose of sanitation, the circuit court's finding that the fee was an illegal exaction was clearly erroneous; and (2) the damages evidence Plaintiff presented was not a valid measure of restitution. View "City of Fort Smith v. Merriott" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) concerning its adjustments made to A-1 Recovery Towing & Recovery, Inc.'s taxable income and to its shareholders' accounts for tax years 2013-2017, holding that the circuit court failed to follow Ark. Code Ann. 26-18-406 when it affirmed DFA's decision sua sponte.Section 26-18-406 provides that a suit in circuit court to contest a DFA assessment "shall be tried de novo." On appeal, A-1 argued that the circuit court erroneously sua sponte entered its order affirming the DFA's decision because the order deprived A-1 of its right to a trial de novo under section 26-18-406. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that the circuit court deprived A-1 of its opportunity to meet proof with proof prior to affirming DFA's decision sua sponte. View "A-1 Recovery Towing & Recovery, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court affirming a decision of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) concerning certain adjustments to Cenark Investment Group, LLC's taxable income and to its shareholders' accounts for tax years 2016-2018, holding that the circuit court misinterpreted Ark. Code Ann. 26-18-406.Specifically at issue was the circuit court's interpretation section 26-18-406, which provides that a lawsuit brought in circuit court to contest a DFA assessment "shall be tried de novo." On appeal, Cenark argued that the circuit court erred in affirming DFA's decision without holding a trial de novo pursuant to section 26-18-406. For the reasons set forth in A-1 Recovery Towing and Recovery, Inc. v. Walther, 2023 Ark.___ (CV-22-281), also decided today, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Cenark Investment Group, LLC v. Walther" on Justia Law