Lawrence v. State, CA

CourtCourt of Appeals of Arkansas
Citation39 Ark.App. 39,839 S.W.2d 10
Docket NumberNo. CA,CA
PartiesJohn Eric LAWRENCE, Appellant, v. STATE of Arkansas, Appellee. CR 91-274.
Decision Date08 July 1992

Page 10

839 S.W.2d 10
39 Ark.App. 39
John Eric LAWRENCE, Appellant,
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee.
No. CA CR 91-274.
Court of Appeals of Arkansas,
En Banc.
July 8, 1992.

Page 11

[39 Ark.App. 40] Jonathan P. Shermer, Jr., Russellville, for appellant.

Clint Miller, Asst. Atty. Gen., Little Rock, for appellee.

ROGERS, Judge.

On March 4, 1990, a stolen vehicle driven by appellant, John Eric Lawrence, crossed the center line of the highway and collided head-on with an approaching vehicle. [39 Ark.App. 41] Killed in the accident were Verla Chisum, a passenger in the on-coming vehicle, and Gregory Paul Gay, a passenger in the car appellant was driving. The other driver, Sandra Chisum, sustained severe injuries as a result of the collision. The wreck occurred just moments after police officers had broken off their high-speed pursuit of the vehicle operated by appellant.

Appellant was subsequently charged in the Circuit Court of Pope County with theft by receiving in connection with the stolen vehicle; two counts of manslaughter for the deaths of Chisum and Gay; and second degree battery related to the injuries received by Sandra Chisum. A jury found appellant guilty of these offenses as charged, and appellant received sentences of ten years for theft by receiving; ten years for manslaughter connected with the death of Mrs. Chisum; six and one half years for manslaughter for the death of Mr. Gay; and, six years for second degree battery. The trial court ordered these sentences to be served concurrently, but consecutively to the period of incarceration that had recently been imposed in a probation revocation proceeding.

On appeal, appellant advances the following three issues for reversal: (1) the trial

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court erred in not ordering a mental evaluation pursuant to Ark.Code Ann. § 5-2-305 (Supp.1991); (2) the trial court erred in failing to find that double jeopardy was a bar to further prosecution; and, (3) the court erred in failing to find that his course of conduct was uninterrupted such that he could only be convicted of one offense resulting from the wreck. We find no error, and affirm.

Appellant's first point is that the trial court erred in refusing to suspend the proceedings for appellant to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine his capacity to stand trial. For purposes of our review, it is necessary to set out the factual background relating to this issue. Appellant was also seriously injured in the collision. From the record, it appears that he sustained some form of head injury, as well as a badly broken leg. On March 20, 1990, appellant's counsel wrote a letter to the court in which he stated that appellant "presently lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him. I will advise the court when his incapacity ceases if it does." This letter prompted the court to enter an order excluding for speedy trial purposes the period between March 20th and July 2nd, "[a]s defendant is unable to [39 Ark.App. 42] assist counsel and unable to proceed to trial."

Since appellant had yet to appear before the court for arraignment, the court held a hearing on May 23, 1990, to entertain the prosecutor's request that appellant be required to remain at the rehabilitation center in Hot Springs where he was recuperating from his injuries, or that he be placed in jail, or that he be released on bond. At this hearing, the court was generally informed of appellant's physical infirmities, and the court learned for the first time that appellant's mental difficulties involved the loss of memory. Specifically, the court was made aware of a letter written by a Dr. Michael Church which stated that appellant was "found to have a moderate impairment in his memory involving recent events as well as memory recall. He also has very severe impairment of his long-term memory." The court entered an order requiring that appellant remain in the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center, and that the court be informed of his release from that facility. In this order, dated May 30, 1990, the court also stated:

Defendant's counsel, in a letter dated March 20, 1990, notified the Court that his client lacks the capacity to understand to proceedings against him and effectively assist in his own defense. The Court has previously entered an order tolling the running of the speedy trial time.

. . . . .

The defendant's physicians at the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center are hereby directed to provide this Court with a written report relating to the defendant's physical and mental condition. Also, the defendant's physician is to indicate in the report whether or not the defendant is able to appear before this Court for arraignment on July 2, 1990.

Thereafter, in June, the appellant appeared before the same trial judge for a revocation hearing held in Johnson County. There is no indication that appellant's incapacity to proceed was questioned at that hearing.

Appellant's trial was eventually scheduled for February 26, 1991. Five days before trial, appellant's counsel filed a pleading [39 Ark.App. 43] entitled "Notice of Lack of Fitness to Proceed." In this notice, counsel requested that appellant be mentally evaluated based on the assertion that appellant was unable to provide assistance in preparing for trial because he "has no memory of the events involving the allegations of illegal conduct which have been made." At a hearing, appellant's counsel maintained that, by filing this notice, the trial court was required to suspend the proceedings for the purpose of obtaining a mental examination. Counsel further argued that an examination was necessary because the trial court had earlier found appellant unfit to proceed and had ordered that a report of appellant's mental condition be made. The trial court questioned the appellant who acknowledged that he understood the nature of the charges and the range of penalties that could be imposed, but said that he

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could not recall anything about the events surrounding the collision. Appellant also told the court that he had been in the rehabilitation center for treatment of his physical injuries, and stated that he had been advised that his memory would return over time, and that he had been given a memory notebook in which to write down things that he remembered. Appellant further stated that he was unaware that any doctor had recommended that he seek psychiatric counselling. The court also heard the testimony of a Pope County jailor, Jack Branch, who had known appellant prior to his incarceration. Mr. Branch stated that he had asked appellant why he was in jail and that appellant explained to him that he had stolen a white Trans Am and had been involved in an accident. Based on the conversations he had with appellant and his observation of appellant's interaction with other inmates, Mr. Branch did not believe appellant's assertion that he was suffering from a loss of memory.

The trial court denied appellant's request for a mental evaluation based on a finding that the notice, which spoke only of memory loss as the basis for appellant's incapacity, failed to put appellant's mental competency in issue. On appeal, appellant asserts that the trial court's ruling...

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17 cases
  • Lucio F.T., Matter of, 15413
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • November 3, 1994
    ...proceeding does not violate double jeopardy principles. See Merry v. State, 752 P.2d 472, 475 (Alaska Ct.App.1988); Lawrence v. State, 39 Ark.App. 39, 839 S.W.2d 10, 14-15 (1992) (en banc); State v. Ryerson, 20 Conn.App. Page 960 [119 N.M. 78] 572, 570 A.2d 709, 713, cert. denied, 214 Conn.......
  • State v. Madden, No. 23394.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Hawai'i
    • September 21, 2001
    ...the "potential for fraudulent allegations of memory loss" (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)); Lawrence v. State, 39 Ark.App. 39, 839 S.W.2d 10, 13 (1992) (amnesia due to head injury suffered during the offense); People v. Amador, 200 Cal.App.3d 1449, 246 Cal.Rptr. 605, 607 (19......
  • Bullington v. State, CR-18-506
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arkansas
    • May 1, 2019
    ...sentence is not a stage of a criminal prosecution. Billings v. State, 53 Ark. App. 219, 921 S.W.2d 607 (1996) (citing Lawrence v. State, 39 Ark. App. 39, 839 S.W.2d 10 (1992) (citing Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973); Pyland v. State, 302 Ark. 444, 790 S.W.2d 178 (1990)). Arkansas Co......
  • Porter v. State, CACR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arkansas
    • September 22, 1993
    ...revocation of that probation was imposed for the Page 124 prior, unrelated theft of property. As we recently held in Lawrence v. State, 39 Ark.App. 39, 839 S.W.2d 10 (1992), the prohibition against double jeopardy does not bar a criminal prosecution simply because the same criminal conduct ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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