The first jurisdiction in the country to grant criminal defendants the right of confrontation at jury sentencing is ARKANSAS! In Vankirk v. State, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the Arkansas Constitution and United States Constitution each grant a right of confrontation at jury sentencing. No court has ever extended the right of confrontation to jury sentencing regardless of whether the jury was “fact-finding” or not. It is a great day for criminal defendants in Arkansas. Hopefully courts in other jurisdictions will now have persuasive authority to lean on in extending the privilege in those jurisdictions.
For the case itself, Van Kirk will be sent back to Greene County for a new sentencing. The victim has allegedly recanted but with a 25 yr minimum it won’t be much of a victory if the jury runs the sentences consecutive. Well, I will leave the speculating for another day and enjoy the rare victory.