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Carroll v. Hobbs

Supreme Court of Arkansas

September 25, 2014

CONRAY CARROLL, APPELLANT
v.
RAY HOBBS, DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 35CV-13-279. HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE.

Conray Carroll, Pro se appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

OPINION

PRO SE

Page 835

PER CURIAM

In 1997, judgment was entered reflecting that appellant Conray Carroll had entered a plea of guilty to rape for which he was sentenced as a habitual offender to 720 months' imprisonment. In 2013, appellant filed in the Jefferson County Circuit Court a pro se petition for declaratory

Page 836

judgment and for writ of mandamus against the Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction (" ADC" ), in whose custody appellant was being held. The circuit court dismissed the petition, and appellant brings this appeal from the order.[1]

We review the action of the circuit court de novo, and we will uphold the circuit court's decision in a declaratory judgment and mandamus action unless it is clearly erroneous. See Crawford v. Cashion, 2010 Ark. 124, 361 S.W.3d 268 (per curiam).

Appellant argued in the petition that the application of Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-93-611 (Supp. 1995) to his sentence was an unconstitutional " sentence enhancement" illegally applied by the ADC without a court order. The judgment-and-commitment order in appellant's case reflects that he was sentenced as a habitual offender under Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-4-501(c). His sentence is also subject to the provisions of Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-93-611(a)(1), whereby he is required to serve at least seventy percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole or transfer, and which states that the seventy-percent requirement applies notwithstanding any law allowing the award of meritorious good time or any law to the contrary. His eligibility for parole was determined by the law in effect at the time the offense was committed in 1996. See Boles v. Huckabee, 340 Ark. 410, 12 S.W.3d 201 (2000).

The purpose of the declaratory-judgment statutory scheme is to settle and to afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, status, and other legal relations. McCutchen v. City of Ft. Smith, 2012 Ark. 452, 425 S.W.3d 671. This court has held that there are four requisite conditions before declaratory relief may be granted: (1) there must exist a justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy must be between persons whose interests are adverse; (3) the party seeking relief must have a legal interest in the controversy; (4) the issue involved in the controversy must be ripe for judicial determination. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs. v. Ross-Lawhon, 290 Ark. 578, 721 S.W.2d 658 (1986). Here, appellant failed to state a basis for declaratory judgment under Arkansas Code Annotated sections 16-111-101 to-111 (Repl. 2006). Without establishing a right to declaratory judgment, appellant provided no basis for a writ of mandamus to issue. Cridge v. Hobbs, 2014 Ark. 153 (per curiam); see also Crawford, 2010 Ark. 124, 361 S.W.3d 268. The purpose of a writ of mandamus is to enforce an established right or to enforce the performance of a duty. Banks v. Hobbs, 2013 Ark. 377 (per curiam). A writ of mandamus is issued by this court only to compel an official or a judge to take some action, and, when requesting a writ, a petitioner must show a clear and certain right to the relief sought and the absence of any other remedy. Id. A writ of mandamus will not lie to control or review matters of discretion. Id.; see also Aguilar v. Lester, 2011 Ark. 329 (per curiam).

Appellant argues that the appellee has denied him due ...


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