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Constitutional Claim Required to Trigger Judicial Review Under Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act

by Dale Chappell

A petitioner must state a colorable constitutional claim to trigger entitlement to judicial review under the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Arkansas Supreme Court held on August 3, 2017.

Jeremy Kennedy filed a pro se petition in the Jefferson County Circuit Court arguing that the Arkansas Parole Board had unconstitutionally denied his transfer eligibility to the Department of Community Corrections in May 2016. The court determined, however, that he did not identify the dates when he committed the offenses underlying his incarceration, and the record was silent as to those dates. Parole eligibility is determined by the law in effect at the time the crime is committed, not the date of conviction. The circuit court found that Kennedy failed to state a claim regarding his parole eligibility and granted the Parole Board’s motion to dismiss. Kennedy appealed.

Reviewing the circuit court’s decision for abuse of discretion, and treating the facts alleged by Kennedy as true, the Supreme Court found the lower court had not abused its discretion when it dismissed Kennedy’s petition because he “failed to state a constitutional claim that triggered entitlement to judicial review under the APA.” Citing its decision in Clinton v. Bonds, 816 S.W.2d 169 (Ark. 1991), the Supreme Court noted that while the APA bars a non-constitutional claim by a prisoner, constitutional claims may be raised under the APA.

Kennedy was not entitled to judicial review, the Court held, because he did not allege facts showing he had a liberty interest created under the parole-eligibility statutes in effect at the time he committed his crimes, and was therefore barred from raising that claim under the APA. See: Kennedy v. Arkansas Parole Board, 2017 Ark. 234 (Ark. 2017).

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Related legal case

Kennedy v. Arkansas Parole Board