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State v. Jones

Supreme Court of Arkansas

May 2, 2019

STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLANT
v.
ROGER JONES, APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72CR-17-863-7] HONORABLE JOANNA TAYLOR, JUDGE.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellant.

          Hodge Calhoun Giattina, PLLC, by: Robert E. Hodge III, for appellee.

          JOSEPHINE LINKER HART, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE.

         The State appeals the Washington County Circuit Court's decision to dismiss criminal charges against Roger Jones for violation of his speedy-trial rights. However, Ark. R. App. P. -Crim. 3(d) prohibits this court from considering a State appeal from any final order unless "the correct and uniform administration of the criminal law requires review by the court." Because the circuit court's decision to dismiss the charges turned upon the specific facts of this particular case, we cannot consider the State's appeal. Accordingly, the present appeal is dismissed.

         I. Background

         Jones was arrested on January 29, 2017, based on allegations that Jones had sexually assaulted his two children. As part of its investigation, the State took a blanket containing apparent semen stains from a room shared by the two children and submitted it to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory ("Crime Lab") for serology and DNA testing. The State also obtained DNA samples from Jones and the two children for comparison to whatever was on the blanket.

         The first trial date was set for May 30, 2017. One hundred twenty-one (121) days would transpire between January 29, 2017 and May 30, 2017. It is undisputed that this period of one hundred twenty-one days is appropriately included in the speedy-trial calculation.

         On May 30, 2017, the circuit court granted the State's motion for a continuance until August 22, 2017, on the basis that reports from the State Crime Lab had not yet been received. Eighty-four (84) days would transpire between May 30, 2017 and August 22, 2017. In its May 31, 2017 continuance order, the circuit court excluded this period of time for purposes of speedy-trial calculation.

         On August 22, 2017, the circuit court granted the State's second motion for a continuance until November 2, 2017, again on the basis that reports from the State Crime Lab had not yet been received. Seventy-two (72) days would transpire between August 22, 2017 and November 2, 2017. In its August 23, 2017 continuance order, the circuit court excluded this period of time for purposes of speedy-trial calculation.

         On November 3, 2017, the circuit court granted the State's third motion for a continuance until January 23, 2018, again on the basis that reports from the State Crime Lab had not yet been received. Eighty-two (82) days would transpire between November 2, 2017 (the date of the hearing on the State's third continuance motion) and January 23, 2018. In its November 3, 2017 continuance order, the circuit court excluded this period of time for purposes of speedy-trial calculation.

         On January 23, 2018, the circuit court granted the State's fourth motion for a continuance until February 13, 2018, again on the basis that reports from the State Crime Lab had not yet been received. Twenty-one (21) days would transpire between January 23, 2018 and February 13, 2018. In its January 23, 2018 continuance order, the circuit court included this period of time for purposes of speedy-trial because of an apparent lack of due diligence on the part of the State. No transcript of a hearing on this motion is abstracted or otherwise contained in the record. The circuit court also ordered that there would be a bond hearing for January 29, 2018.

         On January 31, 2018, the circuit court entered an order reflecting its findings and decision relating to the January 29, 2018 bond hearing. At the hearing itself, Jones had asked the court to reconsider some of its prior orders that had excluded periods of time for speedy-trial purposes because the State had failed to exercise due diligence during those periods. Based upon his understanding of the circumstances at the time, Jones argued that the Crime Lab had completed the serology report by March 2017, at which point the Crime Lab transferred the file to its DNA testing department, but the file was never assigned to an analyst and essentially sat unprocessed since that time. The circuit court agreed, released Jones on his own recognizances, and ruled that the previously excluded periods from August 22, 2017 to November 2, 2017 (72 days) and from November 2, 2017 to January 23, 2018 (82 days) would instead be included for purposes of speedy-trial calculation.

         On February 13, 2018, the circuit court granted the State's fifth motion for a continuance until March 28, 2018, on the basis "that additional Crime Lab testing must be submitted and completed." Forty-three (43) days would transpire between February 13, 2018 and March 28, 2018. In its February 13, 2018 continuance order, the ...


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