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Force v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

May 3, 2018

ELIZABETH ROBERTS FORCE APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          PRO SE APPEAL FROM THE INDEPENDENCE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 32CR-10-249] HONORABLE TIM WEAVER, JUDGE

          Elizabeth Roberts Force, pro se appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jason Michael Johnson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          KARENR. BAKER, Associate Justice

         Appellant Elizabeth Roberts Force brings this appeal from the denial and dismissal by the trial court of her pro se petition for dismissal of fines, or in the alternative, for imposition of public-service work. Force's sole argument on appeal is that the basis for her petition was a statute, identified by her as "code 16-13-703 Imprisonment, "[1] that permits a court to allow a defendant additional time for payment of fines, reduction of the amount of payment, or revocation of the unpaid portion of the fine. Because Force has failed to produce an adequate record for the appeal and the issue of the applicability of the statute to her request for relief was not raised below, the trial court's order is affirmed.

         The record in this appeal does not include a copy of the judgment originally entered in Force's criminal case in which she was sentenced to pay the fine or fines at issue.[2] The pertinent record before us consists of Force's petition to dismiss the fines in which she contends only that she is financially unable to pay the fines and the trial court's order that disposed of the petition. The burden of providing a record sufficient to demonstrate that reversible error occurred lies with the appellant. Spearman v. State, 2013 Ark. 196, 427 S.W.3d 593. Without the original judgment and any subsequent orders of the trial court that reflect Force's conviction and sentences, we have no choice but to affirm the trial court's order. See Warren v. Felts, 2017 Ark. 237 (noting that the appellate court must affirm on appeal when the appellant has failed to demonstrate with an adequate record that the trial court erred).

          Moreover, even if the record contained the pertinent documents reflecting the history of Force's conviction and subsequent sentencings, we could not reach the issue raised in her brief, which concerned the applicability of the particular statute to her sentence, because the argument was not raised in the trial court. On appeal, this court reviews the decision made by the trial court based on the petition that was before it; accordingly, an appellant is limited to the scope and nature of his or her arguments below, and he or she cannot raise new arguments on appeal. See Carter v. State, 2015 Ark. 166, 460 S.W.3d 781.

         Affirmed.

          Special Justice Lee Watson joins in this opinion.

          Hart, J., dissents.

          Kemp, C.J., not participating.

          Josephine Linker Hart, Justice, dissenting.

         I dissent. The majority has affirmed this case ostensibly because "the record in this case does not include a copy of the judgment originally entered in Force's criminal case in which she was originally sentenced to pay the fine or fines at issue." Summary affirmance for this reason was abolished nearly two decades ago when Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-2 was amended to allow an appellant to fix a deficiency.

         If the majority believes that it is unable to reach the merits due to missing documents, the proper disposition of this case is to decline to consider the case on the merits and order the appellant to cure the deficiency. See, e.g., Bryan v. ...


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