FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SIXTH DIVISION [NO.
60CV-15-4712] HONORABLE TIMOTHY DAVIS FOX, JUDGE
Wesley Hall and Sarah M. Pourhosseini, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Nga Mahfouz, Senior Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
Gruber, C.J., and Harrison, J., agree.
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE
Christopher Sarna appeals the circuit court's decision
affirming the Sex Offender Assessment Committee's (SOAC)
reassessment of his community-notification status and the
denial of his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. We affirm.
December 17, 1997, Sarna pled nolo contendere in the Sevier
County Municipal Court to two counts of first-degree sexual
abuse. Sarna was sentenced to 36 months in the Arkansas
Department of Correction and ordered to register as a sex
offender. In 1998, Sarna was assessed a community
notification level 2 by the North Little Rock Police
April 1, 2015, Sarna filed a petition with the Sevier County
Circuit Court to terminate his obligation to register as a
sex offender. Sarna explained that he was unlikely to pose a
threat to the safety of others and that he had completed the
requisite fifteen years of registration as a sex offender.
The Sevier County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney filed a request
for reassessment, stating that Sarna had never been assessed
by Sex Offender Screening & Risk Assessment Committee
(SOSRAC), and an assessment by SOSRAC was necessary to
ascertain the risk he posed to the community.
was assessed by SOSRAC and assigned community-notification
level 3. Sarna requested administrative review of his
assessment by the SOAC. Sarna challenged his level-3
assessment based on the sufficiency of the evidence, the
veracity of the reports in his case history and the accuracy
of tools used to gauge his risk level, improper consideration
of his noncriminal conduct and refusal to consider facts
favorable to him, procedural errors regarding the staffing
summary, his nervousness during his assessment, and a
discrepancy between the test results and the level assigned
to him. Sarna also submitted an independent evaluator's
written opinion that it was possible that false statements
had been made against him.
September 2, 2015, the SOAC informed Sarna that an
administrative review had been conducted, and his level-3
status had been upheld. In the letter, the SOAC explained
that originally Sarna had been assessed at level 2 but that
additional information had become available that required
adjustment of his status to level 3.
October 1, 2015, Sarna appealed to the Pulaski County Circuit
Court. Among his many points on appeal, Sarna asserted that
reassessment was not requested by an authorized party and
"[r]eassessment thus violates SOAC's own rules and
is arbitrary and capricious." The circuit court affirmed
the SOAC's decision to uphold Sarna's level-3 status.
Sarna filed a timely notice of appeal on October 26, 2016. On
January 17, 2017, Sarna filed a petition to proceed in forma
pauperis that the circuit court denied the same day. The
record was lodged with this court on January 19, 2017.
appeal Sarna argues that because reassessment was not
requested by an authorized party, "the entire
reassessment process, including the Sex Offender Assessment
Committee upholding Appellant's reassessment as a Level
3, was in excess of the agency's statutory
authority." Sarna also argues that the circuit court
erred when it denied Sarna's petition to proceed in forma
pauperis without making the required findings. We affirm.
to Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-917(b)(1) (Repl. 2016) the
SOAC shall cause an assessment of public risk posed by a sex
offender to be conducted for a sex offender required to
register pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-905 (after
August 1, 1997) and when an assessment did not previously
occur. A local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction,
the Department of Community Correction, or the parole board
may also request the reassessment of a sex offender's
assigned risk level at any time. Ark. Code Ann. §
12-12-917(h)(2)(A). Arkansas Code Annotated section
12-12-903(6) (Supp. 2017) provides that the "local law
enforcement agency having jurisdiction" is the chief law
enforcement officer of the municipality in which a sex
offender resides or expects to reside, is employed, or is
attending an institution of training or education.
light of Ark. Code Ann § 12-12-917, it is clear that the
Sevier County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney is not authorized
to request risk-level reassessment, and a violation of the
statute occurred; however, Sarna was required to raise to the
SOAC the issue of the deputy prosecutor's unauthorized
request for reassessment. Sarna first raised this issue in
his appeal to the circuit court. It is essential to judicial
review under the Administrative Procedures Act that issues
must be raised before the administrative agency appealed from
or they will not be addressed by this court. Parkman v.
Sex Offender Screening & Risk Assessment Comm., 2009
Ark. 205, at 23-24, 307 S.W.3d 6, ...