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Forkum v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

January 24, 2018

VALERIA ANDREA FORKUM APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CR-16-424] HONORABLE ROBIN F. GREEN, JUDGE

          The Southern Law Firm P.L.L.C., by: Herbert C. Southern, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Vada Berger, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge

         Valeria Andrea Forkum appeals the Benton County Circuit Court order following her guilty plea entered pursuant to the Arkansas First Offender Act, which is codified at Arkansas Code Annotated sections 16-93-301 to -305 (Repl. 2016). On appeal, Forkum argues that the circuit court erred by denying her motion to transfer her criminal case to the division of the circuit court presiding over a dependency-neglect case involving her and her daughters. We dismiss the appeal.

         On April 7, 2016, the State charged Forkum with second-degree domestic battery, third-degree domestic battery, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor. The charges stemmed from claims that Forkum had physically and emotionally abused her two daughters. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) opened a dependency-neglect case concerning the alleged abuse.

         On April 8, 2016, the criminal division of the circuit court entered a no-contact order between Forkum and her daughters, and the court found that the no-contact order "shall remain in effect until modified or terminated by subsequent order of this court or until final disposition of the case by the court."

         On April 18, 2016, the court held an arraignment hearing in which Forkum pled not guilty. She also asked the court to modify the April 8, 2016 no-contact order to allow DHS to offer her certain services. The court denied her request. Forkum then orally requested the court to transfer her criminal case to the division of the circuit court hearing the dependency-neglect petition. The court set a hearing on Forkum's transfer motion for June 20, 2016, but the hearing was later continued to July 6, 2016.

         Before the transfer hearing, on May 31, 2016, Forkum filed a brief in support of her transfer motion. She argued that Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-306(a)(3)(A)-(B) (Repl. 2015) required the court to transfer the case.

(3)(A) When the department exercises custody of a juvenile under the Child Maltreatment Act, § 12-18-101 et seq., files a petition for an ex parte emergency order, or files a petition for dependency-neglect concerning that juvenile, before or subsequent to the other legal proceeding, a party to that petition may file a motion to transfer any other legal proceeding concerning the juvenile to the court hearing the dependency-neglect petition.
(B) Upon the filing of a motion, the other legal proceeding shall be transferred to the court hearing the dependency-neglect case.

(Emphasis added.) Forkum asserted that her criminal case constituted a "legal proceeding concerning the juvenile[s]" and because the subsection uses the word "shall, " the circuit court was required to transfer the case. The State objected to the transfer. On July 6, 2016, the court held the transfer hearing, and the court orally denied the motion. The court entered a written order on that day.

         On August 1, 2016, Forkum filed a "Notice of Appeal" of the July 6, 2016 order denying her motion to transfer. Specifically, she sought an interlocutory appeal or a writ of mandamus from our supreme court. On September 19, 2016, the supreme court denied Forkum's petition for a writ of mandamus without opinion.

         Thereafter, on October 3, 2016, Forkum pled guilty to the criminal charges under the Arkansas First Offender Act. The court sentenced her to seventy months' probation, ordered her to serve 120 days in county jail, and fined her $1000. The court ordered that Forkum be released to work while serving her sentence in the county jail. The court also ordered that the no-contact order remain in place and set a status hearing for November 16, ...


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