FROM THE YELL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT [NO.
75SCR-16-4], HONORABLE DAVID H. MCCORMICK, JUDGE
Law Partners, LLP, Fayetteville, by: Nick Mote and W.H.
Taylor, for appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Joseph Karl Luebke, Asst Atty
Gen., for appellee.
Ward appeals from the revocation of his suspended imposition
of sentence (SIS). Ward raises two points on appeal: (1)
Judge David McCormick lacked jurisdiction to preside over the
revocation due to his prior recusal; and (2) the court abused
its discretion in sentencing him to an unduly harsh sentence.
We agree that Judge McCormick lacked jurisdiction, and we
reverse and remand.
January 2016, Ward was charged in the Yell County Circuit
Court with six counts of Class B felony theft of property. In
April 2016, orders of recusal were entered by Judges Jerry
Don Ramey, Terry Sullivan, and David McCormick. Because all
three of the circuit judges of the Fifteenth Judicial
District had recused, the chief justice of the Arkansas
Supreme Court entered an order assigning Judge Brad Karren of
the Nineteenth Judicial District to hear the case. The order
provided that "[t]his assignment includes all ancillary
proceedings which may arise in connection with said cause,
and proceedings subsequent thereto shall be held at such time
or times as shall be directed and ordered by Judge
charges were amended several times. In June 2018, Ward
pleaded guilty before Judge Karren to one count of theft of
property and one count of healthcare fraud. He was sentenced
to 240 months SIS and six months of house arrest.
October 2018, the State filed a petition to revoke alleging
that Ward had violated the conditions of his house arrest.
Judge Ramey entered an order for the issuance of an arrest
warrant and an order regarding pretrial release. On November
1, 2018, the chief justice of the Supreme Court entered an
order terminating Judge Karrens assignment "[a]t Judge
Karrens request and because a special judge is no longer
needed." Ward subsequently filed a motion for Judge
Ramey to recuse. After initially denying the motion, Judge
Ramey granted Wards motion for reconsideration and recused.
The revocation was then set for a hearing before Judge
McCormick, and Ward filed a motion to recuse Judge McCormick.
Following arguments by counsel, Judge McCormick denied the
motion to recuse and proceeded with the hearing on the
petition to revoke. Judge McCormick revoked Wards SIS and
sentenced him to fifteen years imprisonment and five years
argues that because Judge McCormick recused from Wards
criminal action in 2016, he lacked jurisdiction to preside
over the revocation proceeding. Ward relies on Shaffer v.
State, 2018 Ark.App. 581, 566 S.W.3d 522. In
Shaffer, this court addressed whether a circuit
court judge who had recused in cases pending before him on
the States petition to revoke thereafter had jurisdiction to
hear a later petition to revoke filed in the same cases. We
held that the judge was without authority to hear the
revocations in those cases after his recusal, and we reversed
and remanded for further proceedings. The same result is
Shaffer court discussed three cases in reaching its
conclusion. In Bolden v. State, 262 Ark. 718, 721,
561 S.W.2d 281, 283 (1978), the supreme court held that after
announcing his recusal, the circuit court judge "lost
jurisdiction of the case and was without authority to act
further in any judicial capacity, except to make the proper
transfer of the case or take the appropriate steps for the
selection of another judge." In Kelly v. Mississippi
County Circuit Court, 374 Ark. 396, 288 S.W.3d 243
(2008) (per curiam), the supreme court held that two circuit
court judges could not reconsider their recusals because the
recusals had ended their jurisdiction. Finally, in Green
v. State, 21 Ark.App. 80, 729 S.W.2d 17 (1987), this
court held that for purposes of the disqualification rules of
the Code of Judicial Conduct, a revocation was the same
matter in controversy as the underlying criminal action.
Applying these cases, we hold that Judge McCormick was
without authority to preside over the revocation proceeding.
He lost jurisdiction pursuant to his recusal in the
underlying criminal action, and he could not reconsider his
recusal in the subsequent revocation proceeding.
State argues that Shaffer is distinguishable because
it alleges that the chief justices order terminating Special
Judge Karrens appointment in the case effectively removed
the disqualification of the circuit judges of the Fifteenth
Judicial District. The State cites Matthews v.
State,313 Ark. 327, 331, 854 S.W.2d 339, 341 (1993),
for the proposition that "a determination of
disqualification will not prevent a judge from reassuming