Woodberry v. State, CA

Decision Date03 July 1991
Docket NumberNo. CA,CA
Citation35 Ark.App. 129,811 S.W.2d 339
PartiesJeffery WOODBERRY, Appellant, v. STATE of Arkansas, Appellee. CR 90-210.
CourtArkansas Court of Appeals

Don E. Glover, Dermott, for appellant.

Ann Purvis, Asst. Atty. Gen., Little Rock, for appellee.


Jeffery Woodberry has appealed a conviction of failing to support his dependent spouse. Appellant was first convicted in Crossett Municipal Court. He then appealed to the Ashley County Circuit Court. Upon an appeal from municipal court to circuit court, a defendant "shall be tried anew as if no judgment had been rendered." Ark.Code Ann. § 16-96-507 (1987). See also Hogan v. State, 289 Ark. 402, 712 S.W.2d 295 (1986). This means that the trial in circuit court is de novo; the parties are in the same position as if there had been no trial in municipal court; all the evidence must be produced anew in circuit court; and the decision in circuit court must be based on the evidence introduced in that court. Strickbine v. State, 201 Ark. 1031, 148 S.W.2d 180 (1941).

This case was tried in circuit court without a jury in February of 1990. The evidence and the court's ruling is abstracted in appellant's brief as follows:


I am Donna Woodberry; married Jeffery Woodberry in November 1987. We separated in May or June 1989. I can not work because I have high blood pressure and back problems. (T. 28-29) Mr. Woodberry does not work and has not supported me since our separation. He works for Carl J. Bierbaumb when he is able to work. (T. 30)

I have had to go to the doctor three (3) times since our separation. I worked a little while we were living together and quit because he didn't want me working at night. (T. 33)


I have not filed for Social Security and am not under the care of a doctor. I just have to take high blood pressure medicine. (T. 33)

Mr. Woodberry has been ill or sick as a result of an injury, and I don't know whether he is drawing compensation or not.



I received $162.00 per month for AFDC for my little girl, and Mr. Woodberry is not the father. (T. 39)

Findings, Application of Law and Judgment

The Court: Now, its the order of the court that the order of the Municipal Court of Crossett be affirmed. I don't know what Mr. Woodberry's condition is, but if he has been injured on the job, certainly he is drawing compensation. Now, Mrs. Woodberry is entitled to the same type of support as long as she's married to Mr. Woodberry and he is able to provide that support. I have no proof here that he is not able, so the Municipal Judge's judgment will be affirmed. (T. 42)

The offense of which appellant was convicted is set out in Ark.Code Ann. § 5-26-401 (1987) as follows:

(a) A person commits the offense of nonsupport if, without just cause, he fails to provide support to:

(1) his spouse who is physically or mentally infirm, or financially dependent; ....

The only argument for reversal is that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the conviction. Appellant contends he was found guilty on evidence which did not establish that he was able to work or had any source of income. The appellant says "speculation cannot serve as a substitute for proof," and his conviction should be reversed. He also contends that the trial court has erroneously shifted the burden of proof to appellant.

The state responds by citing Nelke v. State, 19 Ark.App. 292, 295, 720 S.W.2d 719 (1986), which held that the phrase "without just cause," used in Ark.Code Ann. § 5-26-401(a), means "the inability to pay," and that the inability cannot be brought about intentionally and willfully by the defaulting party. The state also argues that it introduced evidence from which the trial court could find that the appellant had the duty and ability to provide support to his spouse but had failed to do so. The state does not think it should be required to "negate any possible excuses for nonpayment" because this "would create a burden it could never meet." Our case of Reese v. State, 26 Ark.App. 42, 759 S.W.2d 576 (1988), and the case of Wisconsin v. Duprey, 149 Wis.2d 655, 439 N.W.2d 837 (Wis.Ct.App.1989), are cited in support of the state's position.

In Reese the issue was whether the defendant's suspended sentence should be revoked for inexcusably failing to make monthly payments on his restitution and fine as required by the conditions of his suspension. We said "once the state has introduced evidence of non-payment, the burden of going forward does shift to the defendant to offer some reasonable excuse for his failure to pay." 26 Ark.App. at 44, 759 S.W.2d 576. The case of Wisconsin v. Duprey relied upon Davis v. Barber, 853 F.2d 1418 (7th Cir.1988), for the statement in Duprey that "[a] state may require a defendant to prove an affirmative defense provided it does not serve to negate any elements of the crime that the state is to prove in order to convict." 439 N.W.2d at 839.

In reaching our decision in the present case, we do not need to discuss the question of "shifting the burden of proof" or the problems associated with requiring a defendant to prove an affirmative defense. Here, the case was tried without a jury and the question before us is whether there is substantial evidence to support the appellant's conviction. On appeal in criminal cases, whether tried by a judge or jury, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the state and affirm if there is any substantial evidence to support the trial court's judgment. Ryan v. State, 30 Ark.App. 196, 786 S.W.2d 835 (1990). Substantial evidence is evidence of sufficient force and character that it will, with reasonable certainty, compel a conclusion one way or the other, without resorting to speculation or conjecture. Id. Based upon our standard of review, we do not believe the...

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5 cases
  • Shaver v. Spann
    • United States
    • Arkansas Court of Appeals
    • 3 d3 Julho d3 1991
    ... ...         In our unpublished opinion in the first appeal, we discussed the "test" which the appellate courts in this state have said should be used to determine whether a motion for "directed verdict" should be granted. We also pointed out that since we were reviewing an ... ...
  • Cotnam v. State
    • United States
    • Arkansas Court of Appeals
    • 13 d3 Novembro d3 1991
    ...most favorable to the state, and affirm if there is any substantial evidence to support the trial court's judgment. Woodberry v. State, 35 Ark.App. 129, 811 S.W.2d 339 (1991). Substantial evidence is that which is of sufficient force and character that it will, with reasonable certainty and......
  • Mason v. Mason
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    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 13 d1 Março d1 1995
  • Tiller v. State, CA
    • United States
    • Arkansas Court of Appeals
    • 19 d3 Maio d3 1993
    ...(1989), and affirms the judgment if there is any substantial evidence to support the finding of the trier of fact. Woodberry v. State, 35 Ark.App. 129, 811 S.W.2d 339 (1991); Ryan v. State, 30 Ark.App. 196, 786 S.W.2d 835 (1990). Substantial evidence is that which is of sufficient force and......
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