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Arkansas Supreme Court Orders Sentencing Court to Run Two Sentences Concurrently

By Derek Gilna

The Arkansas Supreme Court had granted the appeal of prisoner Joe Louis Kelley, Jr., who had filed a petition for declaratory judgment and a writ of mandamus to compel the sentencing court to correct an error of the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) that had mistakenly sought to compel him to serve consecutive, rather than concurrent sentences.

Kelly had been separately convicted of two violations of state law, once in 2004 and again in 2005. Prior to the second conviction, he was also convicted in federal court. After his completion of the first state sentence, he was remanded to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The sentencing judge in the second state case ruled that the sentence in the second case would run concurrently. However, the ADC, upon Kelley’s release from federal custody, attempted to have him serve a consecutive sentence.

The court found that the action of the ADC was a violation of section 5-4-403 of the Arkansas Code Annotated, which stated that "sentences shall run concurrently, unless upon recommendation of the jury or the court's own motion, the court orders the sentences to run consecutively."

The court ruled further that the "ADC must correct its record to show that Kelley began serving his (second) sentence on the same date he began to serve the (first) sentence. Upon transfer to the ADC from the BOP, Kelley must serve whatever remains of the sentence he would have served in the ADC, had the ADC run his state sentence concurrently as required." See: Kelley, Jr. Norris, 2012 Ark. 86 (Ark: Supreme Court, 2012).

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Related legal case

Kelley, Jr. Norris