Big Win and Tough Loss at the Arkansas Court of Appeals

8 11 2012

It was an extremely bittersweet week at the Arkansas Court of Appeals.  I won an appeal that required the judges to reject both an arrest warrant as justification for entering a home and exigent circumstances; however, I lost one that simply required the judges to follow the law and not create new law to affirm.

In Gutierrez v. State, the Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the convictions and suppressed the evidence discovered as a result of an unlawful search and seizure.  DEA officers used an arrest warrant for Appellant’s nephew to enter the residence and discovered guns and drugs along with Appellant in the residence.  The State argued that the arrest warrant permitted them to enter the house because they had seen Appellant’s nephew at the house the day before.  The trial court rejected this contention because there was no indication that he was there on the day of entry.  Of particular importance was the lack of vehicle at the residence.  The State then contended that exigent circumstances permitted entry because one of the windows was broken and an agent testified that methamphetamine traffickers will kidnap and torture individuals.  The Arkansas Court of Appeals rejected this as mere speculation and conjecture, and not based upon the facts of this case.

In Todd v. State, the Arkansas Court of Appeals rejected six claims of error.  Most notably, the Court rejected Appellant’s contention that the trial court erred excluding a psychologist from testifying that Appellant is not a pedophile; therefore, he is less likely to have gone to meet the underage female for sexual purposes.  In doing so, the Court of Appeals was unclear what rationale it actually adopted as a basis for its decision.  It appears as though the Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed based upon the Arkansas Supreme Court holdings that psychiatric testimony that attempts to establish a defendant’s state of mind at the time of a particular crime is not admissible.  There are two primary problems with this ruling.  First, these holdings have NEVER been applied outside of the context of murder.  Second, the psychologist here was not going to say Appellant’s state of mind at the time of the crime, rather, he was simply going to say he is not a pedophile and it’s less likely he went for sex.  It is unbelievable that the learned judges could come to such an absurd ruling.  It simply goes to show the lengths some judges will go to make sure “justice” is done in their eyes, even if it means disregarding the law.


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