FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, OSCEOLA DISTRICT
[NO. 47OCR-16-119] HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR., JUDGE
Knutson Law Firm by: Gregg A. Knutson, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Pamela Rumpz, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
Osceola District Court found appellant Nina Hannah guilty of
numerous offenses. She timely filed and perfected an appeal
of her district court convictions to the Mississippi County
Circuit Court, but she failed to appear for any of her
scheduled circuit court trial dates. As a result, the circuit
court affirmed the district court's decision pursuant to
Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 36(h) (2018). On appeal,
Hannah argues that the circuit court abused its discretion in
affirming her district court convictions. Because Hannah has
failed to preserve the arguments she raises on appeal, we
8, 2016, the Osceola District Court found Hannah guilty of
one count of second-degree criminal mischief, for which it
sentenced her to ninety days in jail, a $1, 000 fine, and
$364.37 in restitution. On the same day, the district court
found her guilty of three counts of failure to appear (FTA);
she was sentenced to ninety days in jail on each count, to be
served consecutively, as well as a $500 fine on each count.
Hannah timely appealed her district court convictions to the
Mississippi County Circuit Court and received a circuit court
date of June 27, 2016. We are unable to ascertain exactly what
happened on June 27, but apparently the matter was continued
until September 6, 2016.
September 6, Hannah failed to appear in the circuit court,
and a warrant for her arrest was issued. Subsequently, the
circuit court also issued arrest warrants after Hannah failed
to appear for trial on three other scheduled circuit court
dates: January 22, 2017; May 8, 2017; and November 17, 2017.
finally appeared before the circuit court on July 31, 2018.
After recounting Hannah's multiple counts of FTA, the
circuit court determined that based on "the statutory
law," Hannah's district court convictions should be
affirmed because of her failure to appear for the September 6
trial date. The circuit court entered an order nunc pro tunc
affirming the district court on August 1, 2018, and a
sentencing order reflecting Hannah's convictions for
criminal mischief and failure to appear was entered on August
23. Hannah filed a timely notice of appeal.
appeal, Hannah challenges the circuit court's
interpretation and application of Arkansas Rule of Criminal
Procedure 36(h). This subsection of the rule, titled
"Default Judgment," provides that "[t]he
circuit court may affirm the judgment of the district court
if . . . the defendant fails to appear in circuit court when
the case is set for trial." Hannah argues that the
circuit court erred by improperly interpreting Rule 36(h) as
mandatory rather than discretionary; she also contends that
the circuit court abused its discretion when it affirmed her
district court convictions without considering why she did
not appear at her previous trial dates or articulating any of
the facts on which it based its decision.
arguments are not preserved for appeal. At her circuit court
hearing, the court asked why the district court should not be
affirmed. Hannah replied only that "there should be a
jury trial guaranteed by the U.S. and Arkansas Constitution.
I think also the appropriate remedy for this day would be to
file a separate but new charge for failure to appear."
She did not argue that the rule allowed the circuit court to
exercise its discretion in affirming the district court, nor
did she urge the circuit court to allow her to present
evidence about why she had failed to appear previously.
appellant must make an objection in the circuit court that is
sufficient to apprise that court of the particular error
alleged in order to preserve an argument for appeal.
McKinney v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 10, 538 S.W.3d 216.
In addition, a party may not change the grounds for an
objection on appeal. Oxford v. State, 2018 Ark.App.
609, 567 S.W.3d 83 (refusing to consider whether the circuit
court abused its discretion in running sentences
consecutively instead of concurrently when appellant raised
new and different arguments about the court's discretion
than were raised at trial). Further, an appellant is bound on
appeal by the scope and nature of the objections and
arguments presented at trial. Eliott v. State, 342
Ark. 237, 27 S.W.3d 432 (2000); Brown v. State, 326
Ark. 56, 931 S.W.2d 80 (1996). The purpose of this rule is to
call the circuit court's attention to the alleged error
by timely objection or inquiry so that the court can be given
the opportunity to correct the error. McKinney,
supra; see also Johnson v. State, 2009 Ark.
460, at 9, 344 S.W.3d 74, 80 (holding that issues raised for
the first time on appeal, even constitutional issues, will
not be considered because the circuit court never had an
opportunity to make a ruling).
Hannah simply failed to raise in the circuit court any of the
arguments that she makes on appeal. Accordingly, we affirm
without reaching the merits of her arguments.