DEXTER J. HARMON APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND DIVISION
[NO. 60CV-16-1301] HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER CHARLES PIAZZA,
J. Harmon, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Bourgon B. Reynolds, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
A. WOMACK, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
matter comes to this court after remand. Appellant Dexter J.
Harmon filed a pro se appeal from an order entered by the
circuit court that granted the State's petition for
reimbursement for costs of care out of funds received by
Harmon in connection with a settlement of a class-action
lawsuit filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
City of Helena-West Helena and Phillips County. The circuit
court granted the State's petition pursuant to the State
Prison Inmate Care and Custody Reimbursement Act
("reimbursement act") codified at Arkansas Code
Annotated sections 12-29-501 to -507 (Repl. 2016), and Harmon
appealed. Harmon v. State, 2017 Ark. 224, 521 S.W.3d
remanded and directed the circuit court to enter findings
that were statutorily mandated before disbursing funds to the
State pursuant to the reimbursement act. Id.
Specifically, the circuit court was directed to enter
findings on the following matters: whether Harmon's
elderly father had an enforceable right to support and
maintenance under the statute; whether restitution is owed by
Harmon in connection with his criminal conviction; and
whether costs and attorney's fees related to Harmon's
§ 1983 action against the City of Helena-West Helena and
Phillips County are owed. Id.
compliance with the order of remand, the circuit court
conducted two hearings before issuing its findings. During
the course of those hearings, Harmon reasserted claims that
he had failed to preserve in the previous appeal, and he
asserted a new claim based on his own financial needs. The
circuit court entered the following findings: that Harmon did
not owe any restitution in connection with his criminal
conviction; that Harmon did not owe any costs or
attorney's fees related to the § 1983 lawsuit; that
Harmon's father had an enforceable right to support in
the sum of $500 under Arkansas Code Annotated section
12-29-504(c)(2)(A); that Harmon was entitled to certain funds
for his own support in the amount of $500 under section
12-29-504(c)(2)(A); and that Harmon was entitled to have
certain liens and obligations owed to the Arkansas Department
of Correction (ADC) paid before the State was reimbursed.
With respect to Harmon's remaining arguments, the circuit
court found that they were barred from further review.
appeal, Harmon does not dispute the circuit court's
findings regarding restitution and attorney's fees but
argues that the State confiscated his settlement funds
without a pre-deprivation hearing in violation of due
process; that confiscation of his settlement funds
constituted conversion and unjust enrichment; that the
State's entitlement to reimbursement is preempted by
federal law; and that his father was entitled to a sum
greater than $500 in satisfaction of his moral obligation to
financially support him.
reasons set forth below, we affirm the circuit court's
findings that neither restitution nor attorney's fees
were owed by Harmon and that Harmon's previous claims are
not subject to further review. The circuit court's
findings with respect to the amounts of money owed to Harmon
as well as Harmon's entitlement to an offset for liens
and obligations were inconsistent with this court's
remand order and are reversed. Finally, the circuit
court's finding that Harmon's father had a legally
enforceable right to support was not contested by the State
on appeal and is, therefore, affirmed.
Process, Unjust Enrichment, and Preemption
stated, Harmon reasserted below and reiterates on appeal the
same arguments raised in his first appeal in which we found
that those issues were not preserved because he had failed to
obtain rulings necessary for appellate review.
Harmon, 2017 Ark. 224, 521 S.W.3d 128. Under the
law-of-the-case doctrine, the decision of an appellate court
establishes the law of the case for the trial court upon
remand and for the appellate court itself upon subsequent
review. Green v. George's Farms, Inc., 2011 Ark.
70, 378 S.W.3d 715. The doctrine is not inflexible and does
not absolutely preclude correction of error, but it prevents
an issue raised in a prior appeal from being raised in a
subsequent appeal unless the evidence materially varies
between the two appeals. Camargo v. State, 337 Ark.
105, 987 S.W.2d 680 (1999). The doctrine also prevents
consideration of an argument that could have been raised at
the first appeal and is not made until a subsequent appeal.
Green, 2011 Ark. 70, 378 S.W.3d 715.
court held in the first appeal that Harmon had failed to
preserve arguments that the State had violated his right to
due process, that the State had converted his funds and would
be unjustly enriched, and that Arkansas's reimbursement
act was preempted by federal law. Harmon, 2017 Ark.
224, 521 S.W.3d 128. There was no evidence introduced at the
two subsequent hearings that materially varied from the
evidence presented during the original proceedings and the
matters are therefore concluded. The circuit court did not
err when it concluded that these arguments were barred from
further judicial review.
Entitlement to Support and Maintenance
previous opinion, we remanded this matter to the circuit
court to make findings of fact with respect to three specific
issues. Id. Where a remand limits the issues for
determination, the court on remand is precluded from
considering other issues, or new matters, affecting the
cause. Dolphin v. Wilson, 335 Ark. 113, 119, 983
S.W.2d 113, 116 (1998). Thus, when a case is remanded for a
specific act, the entire case is not reopened, but rather the
lower tribunal is only authorized to carry out the appellate
court's mandate, and the trial court is generally
powerless to undertake any proceedings beyond those
specified. Id. at 119, 983 S.W.2d at 115-16. New
proof or new defenses cannot be raised after remand when they
are inconsistent with this court's first opinion and
mandate. Dolphin, 335 Ark. at 119, 983 S.W.2d at
115-16. If an appellate court remands with ...