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Lukach v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

June 7, 2018

JOHN RICHARD LUKACH APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          PRO SE APPEAL FROM THE HOT SPRING COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT; PRO SE PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS; PRO SE MOTION FOR CLARIFICATION [NOS. 30CR-91-123 & 30CR-91-124] HONORABLE CHRIS E WILLIAMS, JUDGE

          John Richard Lukach, pro se appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kathryn Henry, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          KARENR. BAKER, Associate Justice

         This appeal stems from the circuit court's denial of appellant John Richard Lukach's pro se petition for relief under Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-90-111 (Repl. 2016) and his motion for reconsideration of that decision and the circuit court's imposition of a strike under the three-strike rule in Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-68-607 (Repl. 2005). We affirm the denial of postconviction relief and reverse and remand for an appropriate order.

         In addition, Lukach filed a petition for writ of mandamus against our clerk, which we deny. He also filed a motion for clarification after the matter had been briefed. That motion is rendered moot by our decision in the appeal.

          Lukach's section 16-90-111 petition challenged his convictions in four cases. This court granted his pro se motion for rule on clerk to proceed with the appeal and later dismissed the appeal as to two of the four cases. Lukach v. State, 2017 Ark. 128, 516 S.W.3d 711 (per curiam). In that decision, we also limited the appeal to the issue of whether the circuit court lacked the authority to sign the commitment order and to whether the circuit court erred in imposing a strike.

         I. Mandamus and Motion

         In his petition for mandamus against our clerk, Lukach complains that he was not provided all four volumes of the original record, and he seeks to have this court direct the clerk to provide him with the remaining three volumes of that original record. However, based on the record before us, it is clear that Lukach has received the volumes of the record he asserted he had not received. Because Lukach received a complete copy of the record necessary for this appeal, the petition for mandamus is moot and therefore denied.

         Further, after the briefs were filed, Lukach filed a motion in which he seeks clarification of certain actions by our clerk; this motion is also rendered moot by our decision to reverse and remand in part to the circuit court.[1]

         II. The Commitment Orders

          For his first point on appeal, Lukach challenges the commitment orders entered in case Nos. 30CR-91-123 and 30CR-91-124. As we noted in our previous opinion, the challenges Lukach raised to the judgments of conviction and his sentences were not valid. The record on direct appeal contains judgments that were entered on August 27, 1991, and signed by the Honorable John Cole, the judge who presided over the trial.[2] Those judgments reflect that Lukach was sentenced in person, that he was convicted on two charges of rape against different victims, and that each judgment imposed a sentence of life imprisonment in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). There were two later judgment-and-commitment orders also contained in that record, and it is the validity of those two orders that Lukach challenges.

         Lukach alleged that the judge who signed the first judgment-and-commitment order, the Honorable Phillip H. Shirron, did not have the authority to enter the order. He contends that until the legislature passed Act 51 of 1992, there was no legislative authority for chancellors and circuit judges in the same judicial district to act under exchange agreements. Lukach asserted that a subsequent judgment-and-commitment order signed by Judge Cole was invalid because the sentence had been placed into execution. The State contends that Lukach did not state a cause of action under section 16-90-111.

          With regard to claims pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 16-90-111, a circuit court's decision to deny relief will not be overturned unless that decision is clearly erroneous. Green v. State, 2017 Ark. 361, 533 S.W.3d 81. A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support it, the appellate court, after reviewing the entire evidence, is left with the ...


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