FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26CV-16-302]
HONORABLE MARCIA R. HEARNSBERGER, JUDGE
Benjamin D. Hooten, for appellant.
Albright, Hot Springs City Attorney; and Friday, Eldredge
& Clark, LLP, by: Elizabeth Robben Murray and Tory H.
Lewis, for appellees.
R. BAKER, Associate Justice
case stems from a referendum petition regarding land
annexation in Garland County, Arkansas. On January 19, 2016,
the Board of Directors of the City of Hot Springs passed
Ordinance No. 6121 entitled, "An Ordinance Annexing
Certain Lands that Are Completely Surrounded by the
Incorporated Limits of the City of Hot Springs Enclave Area B
(Tracts A & B); and for Other Purposes." On January
24, 2016, the City of Hot Springs published the ordinance in
the Hot Springs Sentinal Record. On February 23, 2016, Mr.
Rex Louis Houston, Jr., a petition sponsor, delivered a
referendum petition in opposition to Ordinance No. 6121 to
appellee, Lance Spicer, city clerk of Hot Springs. On that
same day, Spicer rejected the petition as untimely and
March 22, 2016, appellant, George Pritchett, filed a petition
for writ of mandamus in the Garland County Circuit Court
requesting a writ commanding Spicer to accept and certify the
petition and/or that the City of Hot Springs and its
officials certify the petition.
2, 2016, the circuit court conducted a hearing on the
petition for writ of mandamus. On May 16, 2016, by letter
order, the circuit court denied Pritchett's petition and
determined that Hot Springs Ordinance No. 4533 governs the
time for filing the petition and that Pritchett's
petition was untimely. On May 23, 2016, Pritchett filed a
motion for reconsideration. On June 2, 2016, the circuit
court entered an order and judgment denying Pritchett's
petition for writ of mandamus. Pritchett timely filed a
notice of appeal and subsequently amended his notice of
appeal to appeal the deemed denial of his motion for
the circuit court's order denying his petition for writ
of mandamus, Pritchett appeals and presents four issues: (1)
the circuit court erred when it held that Ordinance No. 4533
governs the time for filing a referendum petition; (2) the
circuit court erred when it held that Act 1093 is void to the
extent it established contrary deadlines for filing
referendum petitions for local measures; (3) Ordinance No.
4533 is subject to strict scrutiny and is unconstitutional;
and (4) the circuit court erred in holding that the deadline
for filing a referendum petition is thirty days after the
passage of an ordinance.
purpose of a writ of mandamus in a civil or a criminal case
is to enforce an established right or to enforce the
performance of a duty. Smith v. Fox, 358 Ark. 388,
193 S.W.3d 238 (2004). When requesting a writ of mandamus, a
petitioner must show a clear and certain right to the relief
sought and the absence of any other adequate remedy.
Manila Sch. Dist. No. 15 v. Wagner, 357 Ark. 20, 159
S.W.3d 285 (2004). The standard of review on a denial of a
writ of mandamus is whether the circuit court abused its
discretion. Dobbins v. Democratic Party of Ark., 374
Ark. 496, 499, 288 S.W.3d 639, 641 (2008). A circuit court
abuses its discretion when it makes a decision that is
arbitrary or capricious. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharm.,
Inc. v. State, 2014 Ark. 124, 18, 432 S.W.3d 563, 575
(internal citations omitted).
this appeal requires us to interpret the Arkansas
Constitution. We review questions of constitutional
construction de novo. See Wilson v. Weiss, 370 Ark.
205, 258 S.W.3d 351 (2007). When interpreting the
constitution, our task is to read the laws as they are
written and interpret them in accordance with established
principles of constitutional construction. Brewer v.
Fergus, 348 Ark. 577, 79 S.W.3d 831 (2002). Language of
a constitutional provision that is plain and unambiguous must
be given its obvious and common meaning. Proctor v.
Daniels, 2010 Ark. 206, 392 S.W.3d 360. Neither rules of
construction nor rules of interpretation may be used to
defeat the clear and certain meaning of a constitutional
provision. Id. Further, the Arkansas Constitution
must be considered as a whole, and every provision must be
read in light of other provisions relating to the same
subject matter. Forrester v. Daniels, 2010 Ark. 397,
373 S.W.3d 871. Also, amendment 7 to the Arkansas
Constitution must be liberally construed in order to
effectuate its purposes. Porter v. McCuen, 310 Ark.
674, 839 S.W.2d 521 (1992). Finally, we note when
interpreting statutes, our review is de novo, as it is for
this court to decide what a statutory provision means.
Ark. Hotels and Entm't, Inc. v. Martin, 2012
Ark. 335, 423 S.W.3d 49. In considering the meaning of a
statute, we consider it just as it reads, giving the words
their ordinary and usually accepted meaning. Miller v.
Enders, 2013 Ark. 23, at 5-6, 425 S.W.3d 723, 726-27
(internal citations omitted). With these standards in mind,
we turn to the merits of Pritchett's appeal.
Ordinance No. 4533
Pritchett first contends that the circuit court erred when it
found that Ordinance No. 4533 governs the time for filing a
referendum petition on Ordinance No. 6121. In reviewing the
applicable constitutional ...