FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NOS. 23CR-11-473
& 23CR-11-1001] HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
C. Allen, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge
2012, Ransom was found guilty in two separate cases and
placed on probation in each one of them. The Faulkner County
Circuit Court sentenced Ransom to eighty-four months'
probation for robbery, seventy-two months' probation for
second-degree battery, twelve months' probation for
domestic battery third, and twelve months' probation for
resisting arrest in case number 473. In case number 1001, the
court sentenced Ransom to eighty-four months' probation
for failing to appear.
forward to 2015 when the State filed petitions to revoke
Ransom's probation. After hearings on the petitions, the
court found that Ransom had violated the terms imposed in
each of the two cases that were originally adjudicated in
2012. The court's decisions were reduced to one written
judgment, which was entered on 23 March 2015. The March
judgment, which we have reproduced as an addendum to this
opinion, is straightforward. It has two checkmarks. Next to
the first checkmark the judgment reads, "[T]he Defendant
has violated the terms and conditions of his probation."
Next to the second check mark is this statement: "The
Defendant shall serve 30 days in the Faulkner County
Detention Center, with a credit for 41 days spent in custody
awaiting disposition of this matter." The rest of the
form boxes or spaces are unchecked. Ransom did not appeal the
March 2015 judgment.
August 2015, the State filed a petition to revoke
Ransom's probation in case number 473, which the State
later amended in September 2015 to include case number 1001.
In December 2015, the circuit court entered a judgment for
the State on those petitions. Ransom did not appeal.
2016, the State again filed a petition to revoke and then
amended it in case number 473. In October 2016, the circuit
court entered a judgment in case numbers 473 and 1001. Ransom
did not appeal.
2017, the State filed two more petitions to revoke. The two
petitions were decided together by the circuit court in
November 2018. The court revoked Ransom's probation in
both cases. In case number 473, the court sentenced him to an
aggregate term of fifteen years in the Arkansas Department of
Correction. In case number 1001, the court sentenced Ransom
to ten years' imprisonment. These dispositions are
reflected in two separate judgments entered on 20 November
2018 (no. 473) and 3 December 2018 (no. 1001).
days after the December 3 judgment had been entered, Ransom
filed posttrial motions and asked the court to set aside the
November and December 2018 judgments. He argued that the
court had no jurisdiction to revoke his probation because he
was not on probation. This in turn meant the November 2018
and December 2018 judgments must be vacated. The posttrial
motions were deemed denied by operation of law when the court
did not rule on them within thirty days after they were
filed. Ark. R. Crim. P. 33.3(c) (2019). Ransom timely
appealed the two 2018 judgments; he did not appeal the deemed
denial of his posttrial motions.
court, Ransom argues that the circuit court's 23 March
2015 judgment sentenced him to thirty days in jail but did
not extend his probation period. Consequently, he was not on
probation when the State filed any petition to revoke after
he had served the sentence imposed by the March 2015
judgment. Because he was not on probation when the court
purported to revoke any probation period after the March 2015
judgment was entered, Ransom says that the now appealed 2018
judgments, for which he is currently serving sentences, must
State contends, and our dissenting colleague agrees, that the
unchecked boxes in the March 2015 judgment were
scrivener's errors-meaning inadvertent errors by
omission-because the transcript from the 23 March 2015
revocation hearing shows that the court intended to continue
Ransom's probation, and Ransom himself understood that he
was on probation. Therefore, there is no material problem
dating from March 2015 going forward.
first observe that the State has not argued that Ransom
purged any error in the 23 March 2015 judgment because he
acted as if he were on probation and allowed the State to
"revoke" his probation multiple times,
unchallenged, until the 2018 judgments were entered. In our
view, such an argument is foreclosed by current case
law-which may be why the State did not make it-and the State
has not otherwise advocated for a change in the law. In fact,
our research has not found one case in which an Arkansas
appellate court has held that a criminal defendant's
course of conduct waives an argument that the circuit court
lacked the authority to revoke a probation sentence.
cases hold the opposite: a circuit court's power to
revoke a defendant's probation may be raised for the
first time on appeal. See Trif v. State, 2016
Ark.App. 452, at 4, 503 S.W.3d 802, 805 (whether circuit
court can revoke probation or has jurisdiction to do so may
be raised ...