FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NOS. 72CR-13-1127;
72CR-13-1136] HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE.
Calhoun Giattina, PLLC, by: Robert E. Hodge III, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, Associate Justice.
State of Arkansas brings this interlocutory appeal from the
Washington County Circuit Court's order granting appellee
James Griffin, Jr.'s motion to suppress his statement to
police. For reversal, the State argues that the circuit court
erred in its interpretation of Arkansas Code Annotated
section 9-27-317(g) (Repl. 2015). We reverse and remand.
6, 2013, Griffin was arrested for robbing and assaulting a
female in Fayetteville, Arkansas. At the time of his arrest,
Griffin was sixteen years old and in the custody of the
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). Griffin was
initially transported to the Washington County Juvenile
Detention Center but was transferred to the Washington County
Detention Center on July 9, 2013, after he was formally
charged as an adult with robbery and aggravated assault in
case number 72CR-13-1127.
Rick Frisby and Detective Matt Ray with the Springdale Police
Department interviewed Griffin on July 9, 2013, in connection
with an assault of a female in Springdale on June 29, 2013.
The officers read Griffin his Miranda rights, and
Griffin signed a form indicating that he had waived his
rights. During the interview, Griffin admitted entering the
female's apartment in Springdale and rubbing her
shoulders and legs and tickling her. While he did not rape
her, Griffin admitted that before entering the apartment, he
had planned to have sex with her. The day after his
statement, on July 10, 2013, Griffin was charged as an adult
in case number 72CR-13-1136 with residential burglary, sexual
assault in the second degree, and aggravated assault.
April 1, 2016, Griffin filed a motion in both cases to
suppress his July 9 statement to police, claiming that at the
time of the interview, he was in DHS custody and unable to
waive his right to counsel pursuant to Arkansas Code
Annotated section 9-27-317(g). Griffin also filed a motion to
transfer his case to the juvenile division. In an amended
motion to suppress filed on May 26, 2016, Griffin
alternatively argued that he did not "knowingly and
intelligently waive his Miranda rights due to his
educational and mental levels." The State responded and
asserted that section 9-27-317(g) was not applicable because
Griffin had been charged as an adult.
suppression hearing was held on May 31, 2016, and the circuit
court entered an order on June 1, 2016, granting
Griffin's motion to suppress. The court found that
Griffin could not waive his right to counsel because he was
in DHS custody. The court noted that the officers conducting
the interrogation did not know at that time whether Griffin
would be charged as a juvenile or as an adult because Griffin
was not charged as an adult in case number 72CR-13-1136 until
the day after the interrogation. The circuit court thus found
that all statements made by Griffin to the Springdale Police
Department on July 9, 2013, were inadmissible in any
prosecution. The State timely appealed the circuit
court's order on June 9, 2016.
preliminary matter, this court must first decide if it has
jurisdiction to hear the State's appeal in this case.
Unlike that of a criminal defendant, the State's right to
appeal is limited to the provisions of Rule 3 of the Arkansas
Rules of Appellate Procedure-Criminal. State v.
Colvin, 2013 Ark. 203, 427 S.W.3d 635. Pursuant to Rule
3(a), an interlocutory appeal on behalf of the State may be
taken from a pretrial order in a felony prosecution that
suppresses a defendant's confession. In addition, we will
not consider an appeal by the State unless the correct and
uniform administration of the criminal law requires review by
this court. Ark. R. App. P.-Crim. 3(d). In practice, we
review only State appeals that are narrow in scope and that
involve the interpretation, not the application, of a
criminal rule or statutory provision. State v.
Jenkins, 2011 Ark. 2; State v. Pittman, 360
Ark. 273, 200 S.W.3d 893 (2005). State appeals that merely
demonstrate that the circuit court erred are not permitted.
issue presented in this appeal is whether the circuit court
erred in its interpretation of Arkansas Code Annotated
section 9-27-317(g). We have not previously addressed this
particular subsection of the statute, and because this is an
issue of first impression involving statutory interpretation
that has widespread ramifications, jurisdiction of this
appeal is properly in this court. See State v. L.P.,
369 Ark. 21, 250 S.W.3d 248 (2007) (accepting State appeal
involving interpretation of Ark. Code Ann. §
Code Annotated section 9-27-317 is titled, "Waiver of
right to counsel- Detention of juvenile-Questioning, "
and subsection (g) of this statute states that "[n]o
waiver of the right to counsel shall be accepted when a
juvenile is in the custody of the Department of Human
Services, including the Division of Youth Services of the
Department of Human Services." Because Griffin was in
the custody of DHS when he waived his Miranda rights
and gave his statement to the Springdale police, the circuit
court found that section 9-27-317(g) barred the State from
using Griffin's statement against him, despite the fact
that he had been charged as an adult in circuit court for the
agree with the State that the circuit court erred in granting
the motion to suppress on this basis. In Boyd v.
State, 313 Ark. 171, 853 S.W.2d 263 (1993), we
interpreted section 9-27-317 and held that the statutory
requirement of parental consent to a juvenile's waiver of
the right to counsel applies only to proceedings in juvenile
court. Because the juvenile in that case was charged as an
adult in circuit court, we affirmed the circuit court's
denial of the motion to suppress the defendant's
confession, stating that "when the prosecutor chooses to
prosecute a juvenile in circuit court as an adult, the
juvenile becomes subject to the procedures and penalties
prescribed for adults." Id. at 172-73, 852
S.W.2d at 264.
reaffirmed this holding in Ring v. State, 320 Ark.
128, 894 S.W.2d 944 (1995), wherein the juvenile argued that
he had not yet been charged as an adult at the time he gave
his confession and that section 9-27-317 therefore applied to
him and prevented the admissibility of his confession at a
hearing on his motion to transfer his case to juvenile court.
Relying on Boyd, we held that because the appellant
in Ring "was ultimately charged in circuit
court and, upon this court's affirmance of the denial of
his motion to transfer, will ultimately be tried there, the
failure of the law enforcement officers to obtain the consent