“Right Result, Wrong Reason” Doctrine Takes A Huge Hit

10 05 2012

The Arkansas Supreme Court announced four criminal decisions today.  Two of the decisions were appeals from Rule 37 Petitions.

In Barrow v. State, the trial court simply failed to make the required findings in the order and the Court remanded the case for the trial court to do so.  The ultimate result will likely be the same; nevertheless, it keeps judges from denying the petitions without due consideration.

In State v. Harrison, the State appealed an order for a new trial from a Rule 37 Petition.  Although it was a 5-2 decision, the most important aspect of the Court’s decision came from pages 14-15 in its throwaway paragraph.  Appellant sought to also give the Court alternative justification for affirming the trial court by re-arguing the points for a new trial rejected by the trial court.  The Arkansas Supreme Court refused to address these claims.  The Court held that a cross-appeal was necessary.  This is ABSOLUTELY wrong.  A cross-appeal is not necessary when all an appellant seeks to do is affirm the judgment for different reasons that were argued before.  A cross-appeal is only necessary when an appellant is seeking more relief than granted below.  Not only did the Court err but it did so without any authority.  The case cited as authority,Office of Child Support Enforcement v. Pyron, 363 Ark. 521, 215 S.W.3d 637 (2005), actually affirms the use of the “right result, wrong reason” doctrine.  In Pyron, the Court required a cross-appeal to request attorney fees, which were an additional relief not granted below.  While it did not impact the result of the case, this law threatens to severely impact future Rule 37 appeals in the works absent a cross-appeal.




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