Smith v. Hopper, 2015 Ark. 210, 462 S.W.3d 335 (2015).
In personal injury negligence action, circuit court granted motion for new trial on basis that plaintiff’s counsel misstated in closing argument that a police officer who provided key testimonial evidence had been reprimanded.
Plaintiff argued on appeal that the new trial was improperly granted because there had been no contemporaneous objection during the closing argument.
At trial, the defense counsel had made an objection after the circuit court raised the issue sua sponte.
Continue reading SCOA: New Trial Due to Improper Argument Proper Despite No Objection at Time Since Court Aware of Issue
Effective April 1, 2015, significant changes were made to Rules 11 and 42 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.
The changes were announced by the Supreme Court of Arkansas in a per curiam opinion (2015 Ark. 88) issued on February 26, 2015.
Here are some of the changes:
Ark. R. Civ. P. 42 – Punitive Damages Bifurcation
Rule 42 now has a new paragraph (b)(2). It states that in any case before a jury in which punitive damages are sought, on the motion of any party and if warranted by the evidence, a bifurcated trial shall be conducted before the same jury.
The issues of liability and compensatory damages are to be decided in the first trial. The issue of liability for punitive damages may be decided in either the first or second trial. That is up to the discretion of the trial judge.
The issue of the appropriate amount of punitive damages can only be decided at the second trial. Evidence of the defendant’s financial condition cannot be admitted in the first trial unless relevant to some other issue.
Ark. R. Civ. P. 11 – Expert Testimony Certificate; Sanctions
Rule 11 has been reorganized with additional paragraphs added for clarity.
It contains a new requirement under (b)(5) that when a claim or affirmative defense can only be established by expert testimony, the party certifies that it has consulted with an expert or learned in discovery of an expert’s opinion who (i) is believed to be competent under Ark. R. Evid. 702 to express an opinion in the action and (ii) concludes based on available information that there is a reasonable basis for the claim or affirmative defense.
Continue reading April 2015 Revisions to Rules 11 and 42
Case: The Entertainer, Inc. v. Duffy, 2012 Ark. 202, decided on May 10, 2012.
Under what circumstances may a defendant get a default judgment set aside when the default is allegedly the result of the defendant being abandoned by his attorney?
This case originated as a personal injury action brought by Cory Duffy, the patron of a drinking establishment operated by The Entertainer, Inc. (“TEI”) and Charles Wells. Duffy sought damages against TEI and Wells after he was shot twice while waiting outside the business for a taxi.
Duffy filed his suit on November 30, 2009. Over the next 13 months, both defendants ended up in default. Continue reading SCOA: Abandoned Client Must Show Diligence
Case: Padilla v. Archer, 2011 Ark.App. 746, decided on December 7, 2011.
The defendant physician brought this appeal from an unfavorable jury verdict. The plaintiff is a former patient claiming medical negligence.
One of the defendant’s arguments was that the trial court improperly permitted the jury to view a plaintiff’s expert deposition during deliberations. The expert was a physician who treated the plaintiff after the alleged negligence.
During deliberations, the jury requested to see the expert’s deposition transcript. The trial court denied the request because the transcript was not an exhibit. The court said the jurors should rely on their memories and notes regarding the expert’s testimony, but if desired, they could view the video deposition again. The jury chose to see the deposition again. Continue reading ACOA: Permissible to Replay Video Deposition During Deliberations
I just came across what looks like a very good lay resource on the Arkansas Judiciary website. The site’s “Arkansas Juror’s Web Guide” provides basic information about the Arkansas legal system and Arkansas state court trial procedure.
It also discusses what to expect if chosen to participate in a jury trial.
Here are some of the topics covered in the Guide:
- Jury Selection
- Trial Procedure (including the order of each stage of the trial)
- What Is Evidence
- Conduct in the Jury Room
It also has a FAQ section addressing questions such as whether juror note-taking is permitted (it is) and whether jurors can bring cell phones to court (usually not).
[04-14-2013: Link updated]
[Links updated 2013-01-23]