FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17CR-14-461]
HONORABLE GARY COTTRELL, JUDGE
Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
Crawford County jury convicted James Edward Crippen of
trafficking methamphetamine, possessing drug paraphernalia,
and fleeing. He was sentenced by the circuit court to
twenty-five years' imprisonment, five years'
imprisonment and a $5, 000 fine, and six years'
imprisonment, respectively, to run consecutively, for a total
of thirty-six years.
no-merit appeal, Crippen's appellate attorney has filed a
brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738
(1967), and Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-3(k)(1) (2017),
seeking to withdraw as counsel on the basis that there is no
merit to an appeal. On July 24, 2017, Crippen filed pro se
points pursuant to Rule 4-3(k)(2), alleging that three
reports filed by the Drug Task Force listed differing amounts
of methamphetamine, which he claims caused him to be
overcharged with trafficking. On February 26 and March 21,
2018, Crippen filed additional pro se points,
recharacterizing his July 24, 2017 arguments and adding
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel and confrontation-clause
arguments. The State has filed briefs in response to each of
Crippen's pro se points as required by Rule 4-3(k)(3).
September 22, 2014, Crippen was charged by felony information
as a habitual offender with simultaneous possession of drugs
and firearms, trafficking methamphetamine, possession of drug
paraphernalia, theft by receiving, fleeing, and possession of
a firearm by certain persons. At trial, drug-task-force
officer Lanny Reese testified that in the summer of 2014, he
was investigating Crippen and others who were suspected of
delivering and receiving large quantities of methamphetamine
by mail. On September 12, 2014, Officer Reese received a call
from a FedEx employee reporting that Crippen was attempting
to pick up a package. Reese, along with other law-enforcement
officers from the Van Buren and Fort Smith police
departments, observed Crippen as he picked up the package,
and they followed him when he left. An arrest warrant had
been issued for Crippen, and when officers attempted to
initiate a traffic stop, Crippen fled. He was soon
apprehended and arrested.
Reese testified that the search incident to Crippen's
arrest uncovered FedEx packaging addressed to Crippen from an
individual in California and a case containing what was later
determined by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to be 200.4
grams of pure methamphetamine. Reese testified that 200 grams
of pure methamphetamine had a street value of $20, 000. He
further testified that if the methamphetamine was
"cut" with some other agent, the amount of
methamphetamine could be doubled or tripled, which would
accordingly double or triple the street value of the drugs.
Officer Reese opined that this amount of methamphetamine was
not strictly for personal use; rather, it was for
Buren police officer Stephen Lawrence testified that he tried
to initiate the traffic stop of Crippen. Officer Lawrence
stated that when he activated his lights and siren, Crippen
pulled toward the side of the road, but when he realized that
he was being stopped, he fled. Officer Lawrence stated that
he chased Crippen, who was traveling approximately forty-five
miles an hour. The officer also stated that there were many
other vehicles in the area and that Crippen ran a red light
at an intersection. Officer Lawrence said that he stopped
Crippen soon thereafter.
Grill, of the Van Buren police department, testified that
once Crippen's vehicle was stopped by police, a canine
alerted on the vehicle. Officer Grill testified that they
searched Crippen's vehicle and found the methamphetamine.
Officer Grill later interviewed Crippen, who stated that the
drugs in the car were his and not his passenger's, his
girlfriend Loretta Hammond. He also said that he had been a
drug user for twenty to twenty-five years, and if officers
searched his home, they would find syringes. Officer Grill
participated in the search of Crippen's home at 323 North
11th Street in Van Buren, Arkansas. The officer testified
that they found drug paraphernalia and firearms in the home.
Buren police officer Mark House testified that he interviewed
Loretta Hammond after the traffic stop. Hammond said that she
and Crippen lived in a house at 323 North 11th Street in Van
Buren and that there were firearms and drug paraphernalia in
the home. Officer House participated in the search of Hammond
and Crippen's home and testified that officers found a
copy of a lease with Hammond and Crippen's names on it,
used syringes, a set of digital scales, a drug ledger, copies
of cash money transfers from Crippen to individuals in
California,  and four weapons. No drugs were found in
conclusion of the State's case, Crippen's counsel
moved for a directed verdict on all charges except the
possession-of-drug-paraphernalia charge. The circuit court
granted the motions on the charges of simultaneous possession
of drugs and firearms and possession of a firearm by certain
persons but denied the motions with respect to the charges of
trafficking methamphetamine, theft by receiving, and fleeing.
The defense rested and renewed the motions for directed
verdict on the remaining charges (except the
possession-of-drug-paraphernalia charge), which were again
denied by the court. The jury convicted Crippen of trafficking
methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and
fleeing and acquitted Crippen of the theft-by-receiving
charge. This no-merit appeal followed.
request to withdraw on the ground that the appeal is wholly
without merit shall be accompanied by a brief including an
abstract and addendum. Furo v. State, 2018 Ark.App.
23, at 2 (citing Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 4-3(k)(1)). The brief shall
contain an argument section that consists of a list of all
rulings adverse to the defendant made by the circuit court on
all objections, motions, and requests made by either party
with an explanation as to why each adverse ruling is not a
meritorious ground for reversal. Id. (citing
Eads v. State, 74 Ark.App. 363, 47 S.W.3d 918
(2001)). This framework ensures that indigents are afforded
their constitutional rights. Id. (citing
Campbell v. State, 74 Ark.App. 277, 47 S.W.3d 915
(2001)). In furtherance of the goal of protecting these
constitutional rights, it is the duty of both counsel and
this court to perform a full examination of the proceedings
as a whole to decide if an appeal would be wholly frivolous.
compliance with the directives in Anders and Rule
4-3(k)(1), counsel for Crippen contends that she has
thoroughly examined the circuit court record of this
proceeding and found no error that would support an appeal.
As required by Rule 4-3(k), the reasons the adverse rulings
provide no meritorious grounds for appeal are discussed in
her brief. Counsel indicates, and we confirm, that there were
three unfavorable rulings for Crippen: (1) the circuit
court's denial of Crippen's motion for directed
verdict on the fleeing charge; (2) the circuit court's
denial of Crippen's motion ...