MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME [GRANT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO.
27CR-95-38] HONORABLE CHRIS E WILLIAMS, CIRCUIT JUDGE
E. Hill, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Evelyn D. Gomez, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
R. BAKER, Associate Justice
2016, appellant Jessie Hill filed a petition in the trial
court where he had been convicted of capital murder in 1995.
In the 2016 petition, Hill sought to compel the prosecuting
attorney to direct the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to
turn over information from his case. On May 12, 2016, the
trial court entered an order that denied the petition and
counted the denial as a strike under Arkansas Code Annotated
section 16-68-607 (Repl. 2005). On May 24, 2016, Hill filed a
motion to stay and for reconsideration in which he pointed to
a case that this court had handed down shortly before the
court made its findings as a basis for the trial court to
reconsider its decision. The trial court denied the motion
for reconsideration, also finding the new pleading merited a
strike, and Hill lodged an appeal of that order in this
filed a motion for an extension of time in which to file his
reply brief. Because, as discussed below, the resolution of
the issues that Hill had raised in his brief-in-chief are
apparent based on the record before us, we hold the appeal
moot in part and reverse in part. The motion for extension of
time is therefore moot.
motion for reconsideration, Hill asserted error in both the
denial of the relief that he requested in his original
petition and the trial court's finding that filing the
petition constituted a strike under the statute. He
reiterates those claims on appeal, and he additionally
contends that, under the same reasoning that he advanced in
the petition for reconsideration, the second strike was also
invalid. As he notes in his brief, this court has previously
directed the crime lab to provide the materials that he
sought. See Hill v. Gallagher, 2016 Ark. 257 (per
curiam). Because Hill has received the relief he requested in
his original pleading, the appeal is moot as to those issues,
and we need not consider Hill's arguments concerning the
trial court's error in that regard.
Hill's allegation that the trial court erred in finding
two strikes under section 16-68-607, he asserts that the
court incorrectly applied the statute to proceedings in a
criminal case. We agree that section 16-68-607 does not apply
in criminal proceedings.
trial court rejected Hill's claim concerning application
of the statute in criminal proceedings without addressing it.
The court simply declined to reconsider its decision without
elaboration, and it found in support of its conclusion that
an additional strike was warranted because the new pleading
seeking reconsideration was frivolous. The State asserts that
the trial court could impose two strikes because, although
Hill's pleadings were filed in his criminal case, the
matter was civil in nature and therefore should fall within
the purview of the statute.
review a court's determination to impose a strike under
the same standard we use in reviewing the trial court's
decision on a motion to dismiss, treating the facts alleged
in the pleading as true and viewing them in a light most
favorable to the party who filed the complaint. Waller v.
Kelley, 2016 Ark. 252, 493 S.W.3d 757. However, we
review issues involving statutory interpretation de novo on
appeal. State v. Thomas, 2014 Ark. 362, 439 S.W.3d
690. It is for this court to determine what a statute means.
Foster v. Foster, 2016 Ark. 456, 506 S.W.3d 808.
construe the statute just as it reads, giving the words their
ordinary and usually accepted meaning in common language, and
if the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous and
conveys a clear and definite meaning, there is no occasion to
resort to rules of statutory interpretation. Hill v.
Gallagher, 2016 Ark. 198, 491 S.W.3d 458. In construing
any statute, we place it beside other statutes relevant to
the subject matter in question and ascribe meaning and effect
to be derived from the whole. Id.
examining section 16-68-607 specifically, we have noted that
the statute should be interpreted as a part of a code of
practice in civil cases in this state and that this code was
intended to regulate the procedure in all civil actions and
proceedings in the courts of this state. Id. Placed
in context, section 16-68-607 plainly and unambiguously was
intended to apply only to civil proceedings.
true that this court has considered the nature of the
proceedings when determining the extent that due process
requires that a litigant be entitled to the full range of
constitutional procedural protection that must be provide to
a criminal defendant. See Stehle v. Zimmerebner,
2016 Ark. 290, 497 S.W.3d 188 (holding an order of contempt
was civil in nature); Waller, 2016 Ark. 252, 493
S.W.3d 757 (holding that a petition for declaratory judgment
and writ of mandamus was civil in nature); State v.
Bragg, 2016 Ark. 242 (noting that collateral proceedings
such as those under Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37
are civil in nature); State v. West, 2014 Ark. 174
(discussing when the State may bring an appeal in a
civil-forfeiture proceeding). The issue before us simply
concerns the legislature's intended application of the
statute, and it is not necessary for us to consider whether
that application withstands a constitutional challenge. The
legislature's clear and definite meaning was that the
statute was only to be applied in what are, in fact, civil
actions. The State fails to point to any basis from which
this court might glean that the legislature intended for the
statute to apply beyond that,  and we do not construe it to
include a broader application than what was intended.
16-68-607 does not confer authority on the trial court to
impose a strike in a criminal case, and the trial court erred
in imposing the two strikes. To the ...