FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04DR-14-435]
HONORABLE BRAD KARREN, JUDGE.
Aaron Grady, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., Vada Berger, Ass't Att'y
Gen., for appellee.
W. GRUBER, Chief Judge.
Tina Damron appeals from an order of the Benton County
Circuit Court finding her guilty on five counts of indirect
criminal contempt pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section
16-10-108 (Repl. 2010). For her sole point on appeal, Ms.
Damron contends that the court erred in failing to grant her
a jury trial. We disagree and affirm.
Damron and Stewart Damron divorced in 2014. The present
contempt action arose out of their divorce case. On October
20, 2017, the circuit court ordered Ms. Damron to appear and
show cause as to why she should not be held in contempt and
incarcerated pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 16-10-108 for
failure to comply with the circuit court's previous
orders. The order listed at least eight alleged violations of
specific court orders arising from the divorce proceedings,
the substance of which are not at issue in this appeal. The
show-cause hearing was set for December 7, 2017.
At the December 7, 2017 hearing, the following colloquy took
The Court: Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 16-10-108, [Ms.
Damron] is on notice as to the citation of contempt in this
order dated October 20th as to which orders the Court is
wanting to address. She was advised on October 20th of her
right to counsel, her presumption of innocence, her right
against self-incrimination, her right to confront and call
witnesses and subpoena witnesses. The standard of proof is
beyond a reasonable doubt. And this is pursuant to §
16-10-108, contempt is a Class C misdemeanor. Also under
§ 5-4-401 with the penalties being anything 30 days or
less in the Benton County jail and $500 or less in a fine.
Ms. Damron's Counsel: And, Your Honor, since there are, I
believe, eight counts, correct me if I'm wrong, of
contempt that puts the maximum punishment range in this case
of 240 days, which gets us over the six-month requirement
necessary for my client to have a right to trial by jury in
this case. We would like to invoke that right.
The Court: Denied. Thank you. Ms. Damron's Counsel: Your
Honor, one final one if I could. This-each one is punishable
by up to 30 days but under the inherent powers doctrine,
of course, have the authorization to exceed that. We would
like to ask for a statutory cap that you plan to go for each
of these counts.
The Court: We'll see how the evidence comes in. I'll
let you know.
Ms. Damron's Counsel: Thank you, Your Honor.
conclusion of the hearing, the court found Ms. Damron guilty
of five counts of indirect criminal contempt under Ark. Code
Ann. § 16-10-108 and imposed a total of sixty days'
incarceration in the Benton County jail, with thirty days
suspended. The court also ordered payment of
restitution and fines. The order was entered December 7,
2017, and Ms. Damron filed a timely notice of appeal on
December 21, 2017.
appeal, Ms. Damron contends that the court erred in failing
to grant a jury trial. Specifically, she argues that the
court's refusal to grant a jury trial, along with the
refusal to cap the statutory amount of days she could serve
in jail, indicates that she may have been sentenced to six
months or longer in jail, which she contends triggers her
right to a jury trial. In addition, Ms. Damron suggests that
the court's refusal to indicate how long it intended to
sentence her if she were found guilty was in violation of
Etoch v. State, 343 Ark. ...