FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SIXTH DIVISION [NO.
60CR2013-2411] HONORABLE WENDELL GRIFFEN, JUDGE
O. Bowden, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge
Kareem Muhammad was convicted of one count of robbery and one
count of theft of property following a bench trial. Because
Muhammad had nine previous convictions, he was sentenced as a
habitual offender and received twelve years in the Arkansas
Department of Correction. On appeal, Muhammad raises three
arguments: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his
conviction for robbery; (2) in conjunction with that
argument, Arkansas's standard of review in criminal cases
is unconstitutional and inconsistent with Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1975); and (3) Arkansas's
habitual-offender sentencing statutes are unconstitutional.
We find no error and affirm.
Standard of Review
of his challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence in this
case, Muhammad challenges the constitutionality of our
appellate courts' standard of review. Muhammad correctly
states that Arkansas's well-settled standard of review
requires an appellate court to view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the appellee and affirm if substantial
evidence supports a conviction. For purposes of this opinion,
we will refer to the Arkansas standard as the
"substantial evidence" test. Muhammad contends that
this standard violates the constitutional framework
established by the United States Supreme Court in Jackson
v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979). In Jackson,
the United States Supreme Court held that a state criminal
conviction could be successfully challenged in a federal
habeas proceeding "if it is found that upon the record
evidence adduced at the trial no rational trier of fact could
have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
Jackson, 443 U.S. at 324. For purposes of this
opinion, we will refer to the Jackson standard as
the "rational trier of fact" test.
challenge to the "substantial evidence" test is
without merit. Our supreme court has repeatedly rejected this
very argument. In Jones v. State, 269 Ark. 119, 598
S.W.2d 748 (1980), the supreme court explicitly held that the
language in Jackson did not require abandonment of
the "substantial evidence" test. Jones,
269 Ark. at 120, 598 S.W.2d at 749. This decision was
subsequently reaffirmed in Hale v. State, 343 Ark.
62, 74–75, 31 S.W.3d 850, 858 (2000) (declining to
adopt Jackson's "rational trier of
fact" test as the appropriate standard of review when
there is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence).
More recently, in Williams v. State, 351 Ark. 215,
91 S.W.3d 54 (2002), the supreme court again rejected the
argument and pointed out that
[the] substantial-evidence test, while not explicitly
reciting the standard from Jackson word for word,
requires that evidence supporting a conviction must compel
reasonable minds to a conclusion and force or induce the mind
to pass beyond suspicion or conjecture, and, thereby, ensures
that the evidence was convincing to a point that any rational
fact-finder could have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
351 Ark. at 227, 91 S.W.3d at 61 (internal citations
omitted). Thus, the argument that Muhammad puts forth in his
brief has been repeatedly and soundly rejected by our supreme
court, and we are bound to follow that court's decisions.
See Earl v. State, 2010 Ark.App. 186 (rejecting a
Jackson-based argument for that reason).
therefore apply our well-settled standard of review to this
case. In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence, this court determines whether the verdict is
supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial.
Kourakis v. State, 2015 Ark.App. 612, 474 S.W.3d
536. We have defined substantial evidence as evidence that is
forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or the other
beyond suspicion or conjecture. Id. This court views
the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and
only evidence supporting the verdict will be considered.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
established the standards by which we review this case, we
turn to the merits of Muhammad's appeal. As noted above,
Muhammad was charged with robbery. A person commits robbery
if, with the purpose of committing a felony or misdemeanor
theft, the person employs or threatens to immediately employ
physical force upon another person. Ark.
Ann. § 5-12-102(a) (Repl. 2015). "Physical
force" means any bodily impact, restraint, or
confinement, or the threat thereof. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-12-101(1)–(2). Muhammad was also convicted of theft
of property. In his brief, however, he concedes that there
was sufficient evidence to support the theft-of-property
conviction; therefore, we need only consider the evidence
introduced in support of the robbery conviction.
our standard of review, we find the evidence sufficient to
support Muhammad's conviction for robbery. The evidence
introduced at trial showed the following. During early
morning hours, Desi Jones, who was sixteen years old at the
time, was standing in the parking lot of his apartment
complex and talking on his iPhone. Muhammad pulled up to him
in a car and asked if he could use Jones's phone. When
Jones refused, Muhammad punched him in the face, took the
phone, and drove away. Using his mother's iPad, Jones and
his mother were able to track the location of the iPhone.
Little Rock police were called to that location. When
Muhammad answered the door, Jones positively identified him
as the man who had taken his phone. Muhammad handed the phone
over to the officers, and he was arrested. We conclude that
Muhammad's act of punching Jones in the face and taking
the phone constitutes substantial evidence to support a
conviction for robbery. See Parker v. State, 258
Ark. 880, 529 S.W.2d 860 ...