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Shaffer v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

December 5, 2018

ADAM LOGAN SHAFFER APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT [NOS. 66FCR-07-447, 66GCR-05-82, AND 66GCR-05-83] HONORABLE STEPHEN TABOR, JUDGE

          Brasuell Law Firm, PLLC, by: Toney Brasuell, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rachel Kemp, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RITA W. GRUBER, CHIEF JUDGE

         Appellant Adam Shaffer appeals from an order of the Sebastian County Circuit Court revoking his suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) in three separate cases and sentencing him to a total of thirty years' imprisonment. On appeal, appellant contends that the circuit court was without jurisdiction to revoke his suspended sentences. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

         On June 16, 2005, appellant was charged in case No. CR2005-82 with residential burglary, class B felony, pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 5-39-201 (Repl. 2013). On the same day, appellant was charged in case No. CR2005-83 with two counts of breaking and entering in violation of Ark. Code Ann. § 5-39-202, class D felonies, and theft of property in violation of Ark. Code Ann. § 5-36-103, a class C felony.[1] Appellant entered a guilty plea to all charges and was sentenced to twenty-four months' imprisonment in each of the cases to run concurrently, with sixty months' SIS for residential burglary, forty-eight months' SIS for breaking or entering, and sixty months' SIS for theft of property. The judgment and commitment order was entered May 8, 2006.[2] A "Prosecutor's Report/Penitentiary Synopsis" signed by the deputy prosecuting attorney was filed on June 12, 2006, as well as an amended judgment and commitment order, reflecting that the departure report had not been attached to the judgment.

         On April 8, 2007, appellant was charged in case No. CR2007-447 with possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of Ark. Code Ann. § 5-64-403, a class C felony. The State then filed a petition to revoke in CR2005-82 and CR2005-83 on April 10, 2007, alleging that appellant was in violation of the terms and conditions of his suspended sentence based on the new charge in CR2007-447.[3]

         On April 16, 2007, Judge Steven Tabor filed an order to recuse in CR2005-1233, CR2005-82, and CR2005-83, indicating that the causes were pending before the circuit court on the State's petition to revoke. The recusal order provided that Judge Tabor had "previously served as Prosecuting Attorney at the time the Defendant was prosecuted and received the sentence which the State now wishes to revoke." The order directed the circuit clerk to reassign this case. An affidavit of Nancy Brewer, Sebastian County circuit clerk, also filed April 16, 2007, indicates that the case was reassigned to Judge James O. Cox.

         On September 7, 2007, appellant pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia in CR-2007-447 and entered the Sebastian County Drug Court Program. Judge Tabor sentenced appellant to a two-year SIS, conditioned upon compliance in the drug court. On the same day, the State filed a motion to withdraw the petition to revoke based on the transfer to drug court.[4]

         The State filed another petition to revoke on September 8, 2009, in cases CR2005-82, CR2005-83, and CR2007-447, on the grounds that appellant had violated the terms and conditions of his suspended sentences. Specifically, the State alleged appellant failed several drug tests, failed to appear, and fled from the Regional Correctional Facility. On January 13, 2010, appellant entered a no-contest plea to the State's petition to revoke and was sentenced to twenty-four months' imprisonment for each case to be served concurrently, and ninety-six months' SIS for the residential-burglary conviction in CR2005-82, forty-eight months' SIS the breaking-or-entering conviction in CR2005-83, ninety-six months' SIS for the theft-of-property conviction in CR2005-83, and ninety-six months' SIS for the possession-of-drug-paraphernalia conviction in CR2007-447.

         On February 7, 2018, the State filed a petition to revoke in CR2005-82, CR2005-83, and CR2007-447, alleging that appellant was released from the Arkansas Department of Correction on November 26, 2010, and thereafter committed the offense of battery in the second degree on January 24, 2018, in violation of the terms and conditions of his suspended sentences. A hearing on the petition to revoke took place on March 8, 2018. Judge Tabor found that appellant had committed the offense of second-degree battery and was in violation of the terms of his suspended sentences. Appellant's suspended sentences were revoked, and appellant was sentenced to 192 months' imprisonment for the residential-burglary charge in CR2005-82, seventy-two months' imprisonment for the theft-of-property charge in CR2005-83, and ninety-six months' imprisonment for possession-of-drug-paraphernalia charge in CR2007-447, with the sentences to run consecutively. The judgment and commitment order was entered March 14, 2018, and appellant filed a timely notice of appeal.

         For his sole point on appeal, appellant argues that the circuit court was without jurisdiction or authority to revoke his suspended sentences in all three cases.

         The Arkansas Constitution, article 7, § 20, as well as the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct, provides that judges must refrain from presiding over cases in which they might be interested and must avoid all appearances of bias. Irvin v. State, 345 Ark. 541, 549, 49 S.W.3d 635, 640 (2001). The decision to recuse is within the circuit court's discretion, and it will not be reversed absent abuse. Id. The case before us does not deal with the issue of whether the circuit judge should have recused. Rather, the issue presented is whether Judge Tabor, having recused by his own order in 2007, thereafter had jurisdiction or authority to hear appellant's revocation cases in 2018.

         Appellant contends that Judge Tabor, "by voluntarily recusing himself from Appellant's cases, lost jurisdiction and was without authority to act further in any judicial capacity rendering every judicial act since the recusal null and void." He cites Bolden v. ...


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