MAURICE G. HOPKINS APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CR-14-105]
HONORABLE BERLIN C. JONES, JUDGE
Rosenzweig, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Ashley Priest, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE
Hopkins was tried by a jury, found guilty of the offense of
sexual assault in the second-degree, and sentenced to 150
months in the Arkansas Department of Correction. In his
appeal, he raises two major points, with several subpoints:
1) the trial court erred in denying his introduction of the
following evidence to demonstrate his accuser's bias,
motive, interest, and credibility-(a) her alleged association
with the Crips gang, (b) her failure to cooperate with the
prosecutor, and (c) her consultation with an attorney
concerning a possible civil suit; and 2) the trial court
erroneously restricted Hopkins's testimony in his own
defense. Finding error with the trial court's exclusion
of all evidence regarding the alleged victim's (E.A.)
consultation with an attorney concerning a possible civil
action, we reverse and remand for a new trial.
sufficiency of the evidence is not challenged, so we recount
the facts as they pertain to the issues raised in this appeal
and for overall context. Maurice Hopkins was a police officer
with the Pine Bluff Police Department. He responded to a
domestic-disturbance call at an apartment complex on February
23, 2014. The domestic disturbance was between Josephine
Roberson and Emanuel Foster, and it has nothing to do with
the instant case other than to provide background for the
events that followed.
lived in a different building than Josephine and Emanuel but
within the same apartment complex. She testified that she
knew Emanuel, and although she did not witness the dispute
between Josephine and him, she approached the responding
police officers to let them know Emanuel had issues that she
believed were causing him to "act out." She
recounted that Officer Hopkins asked her to get Emanuel some
water, which she did, and that she later contacted
Emanuel's mother, who came to the apartments in an effort
to calm him down.
testified that Officer Hopkins returned to her apartment
approximately twenty minutes after Emanuel had been taken
into police custody; that Hopkins asked her where E.A. lived
because he needed to get a statement from her; and that she
pointed out where E.A. lived and watched him go in that
purposes of this opinion, it is sufficient to say E.A. and
Hopkins both testified at the trial and their accounts of
what happened in E.A.'s apartment differ dramatically,
with E.A. describing a sexual assault and Hopkins testifying
about a consensual sexual encounter.
the points raised by Hopkins involve evidentiary rulings by
the trial court. Our standard of review for evidentiary
rulings is that a trial court has broad discretion, and we
will not reverse an evidentiary ruling absent an abuse of
discretion. Alley v. State, 2015 Ark.App. 31. Abuse
of discretion is a high threshold that does not simply
require error in the trial court's decision but requires
that the trial court act improvidently, thoughtlessly, or
without due consideration. Owens v. State, 2017
Ark.App. 109, S.W.3d . In addition, we will not reverse
absent a showing of prejudice, as prejudice is not presumed.
Edison v. State, 2015 Ark. 376, 472 S.W.3d 474.
of his arguments for reversal, Hopkins contends the trial
court erred in prohibiting him from introducing evidence that
E.A. consulted with an attorney about a possible civil suit
against the City of Pine Bluff. It is with this issue that we
State filed a motion in limine prior to the trial of this
matter, seeking to preclude any cross-examination of E.A.
regarding whether she had sought legal advice for a civil
action and intended to pursue one. At the hearing on the
motion, the State recognized that case law allows a witness
in a criminal case to be cross-examined for bias when that
witness has filed a civil complaint, but distinguished the
situation here from those cases by noting that E.A. "has
not filed any civil action in this matter." The State
explained the nature of her consultation related to her right
to privacy because her name had been disclosed initially in
the newspaper concerning this matter and that discussion with
counsel then ensued about the ...