STEVEN L. MCARTHUR APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
APPEAL FROM THE LEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT; PRO SE MOTION FOR
DEFAULT JUDGMENT [NO. 39CV-18-14] HONORABLE CHALK S.
L. McArthur, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
KARENR.BAKER, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Steven L. McArthur brings this appeal from the denial of his
pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. Also pending is
McArthur's motion for default judgment. In 1991 a jury
found McArthur guilty of capital murder in the death of
Rodney Spence. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without
parole. We affirmed. McArthur v. State, 309 Ark.
196, 830 S.W.2d 842 (1992).
2018, McArthur filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas
corpus in the county where he is incarcerated and raised the
following grounds for relief: (1) that new evidence has
emerged consisting of affidavits executed by his accomplice,
Donald Hawley, and two alleged witnesses to the crime; (2)
that based on the information set forth in these affidavits,
McArthur is actually innocent of capital murder; (3) that
material evidence was withheld at his trial in violation of
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); (4) that the
sheriff conspired to submit false testimony and evidence; (5)
that the prosecutor was guilty of misconduct for presenting
false testimony at McArthur's trial; (6) that the trial
court committed judicial misconduct by allowing the
prosecutor to present false testimony; (7) that his trial
counsel was ineffective; (8) that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction due to a violation of his right to speedy trial
and that the judgment of conviction for capital murder is
illegal on its face because it does not include a conviction
for the underlying felony of aggravated robbery; (9) that the
State failed to appoint a second attorney in McArthur's
capital-murder case; (10) that the prosecutor waived the
death penalty without McArthur's permission; (11) that
McArthur was not provided with access to a law library while
he was in custody awaiting trial.
circuit court found that the habeas petition was untimely and
without merit. On appeal, McArthur essentially reasserts the
same grounds for relief that he raised below and which are
set forth above, with the exception of his claims based on
ineffective assistance of counsel, failure to appoint a
second attorney, and waiver of the death penalty. Claims that
are raised below but have not been reasserted on appeal are
considered abandoned. Ratliff v. Kelley, 2018 Ark.
105, 541 S.W.3d 408.
circuit court's decision on a petition for writ of habeas
corpus will be upheld unless it is clearly erroneous.
Garrison v. Kelley, 2018 Ark. 8, 534 S.W.3d 136. A
decision is clearly erroneous when, although there is
evidence to support it, the appellate court, after reviewing
the entire evidence, is left with the definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been made. Id. This
court may affirm a circuit court when it has reached the
right decision, albeit for the wrong reason, so long as the
issue was raised and a record was developed below. Ark.
State Bd. of Election Comm'rs v. Pulaski Cty. Election
Comm'n, 2014 Ark. 236, 437 S.W.3d 80. Because the
circuit court did not clearly err when it found that
McArthur's petition for a writ of habeas corpus was
without merit, we affirm. Accordingly, McArthur's motion
for default judgment is denied.
petitioner for a writ of habeas corpus who does not allege
his or her actual innocence and proceed under Act 1780 of
2001 must plead either the facial invalidity of the judgment
or the lack of jurisdiction by the trial court and make a
showing by affidavit or other evidence of probable cause to
believe that he or she is being illegally detained.
Garrison, 2018 Ark. 8, 534 S.W.3d 136. A writ of
habeas corpus is proper when a judgment of conviction is
invalid on its face or when a circuit court lacks
jurisdiction over the cause. Philyaw v. Kelley, 2015
Ark. 465, 477 S.W.3d 503. Jurisdiction is the power of the
court to hear and determine the subject matter in
controversy. Baker v. Norris, 369 Ark. 405, 255
S.W.3d 466 (2007). If a petitioner for habeas relief fails to
raise a claim within the purview of a habeas action, the
petitioner fails to meet his or her burden of demonstrating a
basis for the writ to issue. Edwards v. Kelley, 2017
Ark. 254, 526 S.W.3d 825.
habeas proceeding does not afford a prisoner an opportunity
to retry his or her case, and it is not a substitute for
direct appeal or postconviction relief. Gardner v.
Kelley, 2018 Ark. 300. Habeas proceedings are not a
means to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain
a judgment. Id. Claims which could have been raised
in the trial court or on direct appeal and settled there are
not cognizable in habeas proceedings. Id.
Proceedings for the writ are not intended to require an
extensive review of the record of the trial proceedings, and
the circuit court's inquiry into the validity of the
judgment is limited to the face of the commitment order.
Id. Accordingly, assertions of trial error and
due-process claims do not implicate the facial validity of
the judgment or the jurisdiction of the trial court.
Philyaw, 2015 Ark. 465, 477 S.W.3d 503. Furthermore,
we have held that claims of actual innocence are effectively
challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and are thus
due-process claims that are not cognizable in habeas
proceedings. Stephenson v. Kelley, 2018 Ark. 143,
544 S.W.3d 44. Finally, a claim of prosecutorial misconduct
does not implicate the facial validity of the judgment or the
jurisdiction of the trial court, and such an allegation does
not support issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Muldrow
v. Kelley, 2018 Ark. 126, 542 S.W.3d 856.
reasons set forth above, the majority of McArthur's
claims are not grounds for the writ because they do not
implicate either the jurisdiction of the trial court or the
legality of his sentence and are therefore not cognizable in
habeas proceedings. Rather, the claims should have been
raised at trial, on direct appeal, or in a timely
postconviction proceeding. Gardner, 2018 Ark. 300.
raises two claims that purport to challenge the facial
legality of his conviction as well as the jurisdiction of the
trial court. Both are without merit. McArthur is mistaken
that the judgment of conviction for capital murder is illegal
because he was not convicted of the underlying felony of
aggravated robbery. The face of the judgment reveals that the
murder for which McArthur was convicted was committed on
January 20, 1991. At the time the crime was committed, a
defendant could not be convicted for both capital murder and
its underlying felony. See Walker v. State, 353 Ark. 12,
110 S.W.3d 752 (2003). Here, the face of the
judgment-and-conviction order reflects that McArthur was
convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for capital
murder in keeping with the law that was in effect at the time
the crime was committed. The sentence of life without parole for
capital murder is not an illegal sentence, in that the only
sentences prescribed for capital murder are either death or
life imprisonment. See Ark. Code Ann. §
5-10-101(c) (1987). When the petitioner does not show that on
the face of the commitment order there was an illegal
sentence imposed, the claim does not implicate the
jurisdiction of the court to hear the case, and the claim is
not one that is cognizable in habeas proceedings.
Williams v. Kelley, 2017 Ark. 200, 521 S.W.3d 104.
Likewise, a violation of a defendant's right to a speedy
trial does not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction, and
McArthur's allegation regarding a speedy-trial violation
does not state a viable habeas claim. Id.
the claims raised by McArthur are sufficient to demonstrate
that the trial court lacked jurisdiction or that the judgment
of conviction was invalid on its face. As stated above, a
petition for writ of habeas corpus does not provide the
petitioner with the opportunity to retry his case or to
challenge the sufficiency of the evidence that underpinned
the conviction. Gardner, 2018 Ark. 300. McArthur
failed to make a showing that the face of the judgment is
invalid or to present evidence of probable cause to believe
he is being illegally detained. Story v. State, 2017
Ark. 358. Because circuit courts have subject-matter
jurisdiction to hear and determine cases involving violations
of criminal statutes, McArthur was tried in a court of
competent jurisdiction. Love v. Kelley, 2018 Ark.
206, 548 S.W.3d 145. Finally, McArthur alleges on appeal that
the circuit court erred in not ...