There are two lessons from recent decisions regarding the practice of criminal law in Arkansas.
First, in Keisha Gregory v. State of Arkansas, the circuit court dismissed the defendant’s appeal to circuit court from district court because she failed to appear at a pre-trial hearing. The Arkansas Court of Appeals noted that A.C.A. 16-96-508 does not permit the dismissal of an appeal to circuit court for not attending a pre-trial hearing. The law only permits the dismissal of an appeal to circuit court for not attending trial. Circuit courts in this state frequently dismiss appeals when defendants fail to attend the first setting in circuit court whether it was because they did not receive notice or simply chose not to attend. This case again reiterates that there is no basis in the law for doing so.
Second, in Joe King v. State of Arkansas, the Court made it clear that merely requesting a mental evaluation will not preserve the issue for appeal in any real sense if the trial court denies an evaluation. The Court made it clear that it would expect the defendant to file a notice of intent to rely on mental disease or defect. In addition, the Court of Appeals seems to desire some explanation of the reason counsel desires a mental evaluation in the event the request is denied.