DEXTER J. HARMON APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
APPEAL FROM ORDER GRANTING STATE'S PETITION FOR
REIMBURSEMENT [PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 60CV-16-1301]
HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER CHARLES PIAZZA, JUDGE
J. Harmon, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Bourgon B. Reynolds, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
A. WOMACK, Associate Justice
a pro se appeal from an order granting the State's
petition for reimbursement of costs of care pursuant to the
State Prison Inmate Care and Custody Reimbursement Act
(Reimbursement Act) codified at Arkansas Code Annotated
sections 12-29-501 to -507 (Repl. 2016). Appellant, Dexter J.
Harmon, is an inmate of the Arkansas Department of Correction
(ADC) and has been incarcerated since July 5, 2012. Harmon
appeals from an order from the Pulaski County Circuit Court
ordering disbursement from his inmate trust account to
reimburse the appellee for costs associated with his
incarceration. We remand for further evidentiary findings
under Ark. Code Ann. §§ 12-29-504, -601.
2015, Harmon was part of a class-action lawsuit brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983, against the City of
Helena-West Helena and Phillips County, styled Covington
v. Byrd, No. 2:12-CV-123-DPM (E.D. Ark. June 22, 2012).
In January 2016, the class- action lawsuit settled and the
ADC received a settlement check in the amount of $7, 200,
which was deposited into Harmon's inmate trust-fund
account. On January 11, 2016, Harmon filed a request with the
ADC to forward the check to his legal representatives, Elite
Paralegal Services. Despite Harmon's request to the
contrary, the check was placed in Harmon's inmate
account. Thereafter, Harmon filed grievances in January and
February 2016, alleging that ADC officials had confiscated
the funds without his permission by depositing the check into
his inmate account and that the ADC had refused his
withdrawal request in the amount of $3, 000 as payment for
legal fees connected with legal research on criminal and
civil court cases.
March 3, 2016, the State of Arkansas filed a petition in the
Pulaski County Circuit Court for reimbursement of costs of
care and a motion for leave to deposit Harmon's funds
with the court. In response, Harmon filed a motion to dismiss
the petition, a response to the State's petition, and a
motion to set aside the order directing the deposit of funds.
A hearing was conducted on June 28, 2016.
hearing, Harmon introduced the grievances he had filed with
the ADC and raised numerous grounds in response to the
State's petition. Harmon alleged that by confiscating his
settlement funds, the State had violated his constitutional
rights to equal protection, access to the courts, and to due
process. Harmon complained that the ADC had illegally taken
possession of funds intended for legal services and
subsequently refused to authorize a withdrawal intended for
legal fees. Harmon argued that he was constitutionally
entitled to a "pre-deprivation hearing" before the
funds were deposited in his inmate account. Furthermore,
Harmon maintained that if the State was allowed reimbursement
from funds received as compensation for damages inflicted by
government agencies, then the purpose of 42 U.S.C. §
1983 would be defeated. Finally, Harmon insisted that his
financial obligations to his elderly father should be
considered pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section
12-29-504(c)(2)(A). In support of this claim, Harmon
introduced bills owed by his father to various creditors.
circuit court granted the State's petition, finding that
it had established that the cost of Harmon's care while
incarcerated exceeded the balance of funds currently in the
possession of the registry of the court. The circuit court
found that the State had met its burden of proof and directed
that the settlement funds be deposited into the State
treasury pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section
12-29-507. The circuit court did not address any of
Harmon's other arguments.
raises four points on appeal: (1) that he was
constitutionally entitled to a pre-deprivation hearing before
the ADC deposited his settlement check into his inmate trust
account; (2) that the confiscation of his settlement check
issued pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 represented an
unjust enrichment in that the funds were owed to his legal
representatives; (3) that the circuit court failed to take
into consideration his financial obligations to his elderly
father; and (4) that the State's entitlement to
reimbursement out of moneys paid as compensatory damages is
preempted by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to a holding
entered by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Hankins
v. Finnel, 964 F.2d 853, 861 (8th Cir. 1992).
failed to obtain a ruling on any of the arguments raised
below, which he now raises on appeal. We have said on
numerous occasions that the failure to obtain a ruling below
bars review of the issue on appeal. State v. Rainer,
2014 Ark. 306, at 15, 440 S.W.3d 315, 324; Jackson v.
State, 334 Ark. 406, 976 S.W.2d 370 (1998); see
also Ark. R. Civ. P. 52(a) and (b) (2016) (requiring
findings of fact and conclusions of law upon request by a
party either before the order is entered or by a subsequent
motion). We therefore decline to address his arguments on
when a circuit court fails to make findings mandated by
either procedural rules or by statutory authority, this court
will remand and reverse for a written order in compliance
with such requirements. Decay v. State, 2013 Ark.
185, at 2 (remanding for findings in compliance with
requirements set forth in Rule 37.5(i) (2013) of the Arkansas
Rules of Criminal Procedure). The word "shall" when
used in a statute means that the legislature intended
mandatory compliance with the statute. Loyd v.
Knight, 288 Ark. 474, 477, 706 S.W.2d 393, 395 (1986).
Under the Reimbursement Act, before the circuit court may
issue an order disbursing funds, the court "shall take
into consideration and make allowances for the maintenance
and support of the spouse, dependent children . . . or other
persons having a moral or legal right to support and
maintenance." Ark. Code Ann. § 12-29-504(c)(2)(A).
Additionally, any compensatory damages available after
attorney fees and costs "awarded to a prisoner in
connection with a civil action brought against any state or
local jail, prison, or correctional facility" shall be
paid to satisfy outstanding restitution orders; the remainder
shall then be transferred to the prisoner. Ark. Code Ann.
the circuit court received evidence that Harmon's father
needed financial support; however, the court did not issue
any findings in its order regarding whether his father had
any right to support under the statute. Additionally, Harmon
claimed that he intended to transfer the funds from his
inmate trust account to his legal representative. The court
made no findings regarding whether those legal fees were
related to his previous suit against the City of
Helena-West-Helena and Phillips County or were for other
the circuit court did not make the requisite findings under
both statutes, this case is remanded to the circuit court for
an evidentiary hearing consistent with this opinion. The
circuit court is directed to make findings of fact mandated
by Arkansas Code Annotated section 12-29-504(c)(2)(A) that
address whether Harmon's father has an enforceable right
to support and maintenance consistent with our statutory
interpretation. The court will make additional findings as
mandated by Arkansas Code Annotated section 12-29-601(a) as
to whether restitution is owed by Harmon in connection with
his criminal conviction. Lastly, the court will make findings
regarding whether costs and attorney's fees related to
Harmon's § 1983 action against the City of
Helena-West-Helena and Phillips County ...