(In)Justice Danielson: State v. Tyson

13 03 2012

I have given it a few days before writing about this case.  There is still hope in the petition for rehearing considering I need to sway only one justice to my side.  The problem is that there is little I can say that the dissenting justices did not already say nor can I say it more eloquently.

Last Thursday in State v. Tyson, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that even though an officer completely misread the rules of criminal procedure, she relied in good faith on the warrant signed by a judge.  What it proves to us all is that judges don’t read the affidavits or warrants before they sign them.  Unfortunately, when a judge signs a warrant, no matter how pitifully supported it is, the Arkansas Supreme Court will uphold the officer’s actions in reliance on that warrant.

Public policy ramifications aside, it was a horrible decision based on Arkansas case law.  Arkansas case law makes it clear that for the State to appeal a decision suppressing evidence the decision must have widespread ramifications and not be an issue of fact.  Both of those are lacking here.  There has never been another officer who has misinterpreted Rule 13.2(c)(iii) before.  So how can there be widespread ramifications?  Second, the Arkansas Supreme Court has already said that the issue of good faith is necessarily one of fact and is not reviewable on State appeal. 

Additionally, the trial judge determined on the record that the officer was not actually concerned with what she claimed to be and discredited her testimony.  The Majority’s opinion apparently reevaluated her credibility and found her to be credible.  I cannot remember one time the Arkansas Supreme Court found a defendant credible after a contrary finding by the trial court.

Nevertheless, the real problem here is one expressed perfectly in the play A Man for All Seasons.  It appears as though the Arkansas Supreme Court and the State of Arkansas are willing to chop down all the laws to get at one man they believe is bad.

Margaret More: Father, that man’s bad.
Sir Thomas More: There’s no law against that.
William Roper: There is: God’s law.
Sir Thomas More: Then God can arrest him.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!


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