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MICHAEL HULL v. STATE OF ARKANSAS
Case Number: 2020 Ark. App. 196
Judge: LARRY D. VAUGHT
Court: ARKANSAS COURT OF APPEALS
Plaintiff's Attorney: One brief only.
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Rule 4-3(k)(1) requires that the argument section of a no-merit brief contain “a list of
all rulings adverse to the defendant made by the circuit court on all objections, motions and
requests . . . with an explanation as to why each adverse ruling is not a meritorious ground
for reversal.” Generally speaking, if a no-merit brief fails to address all the adverse rulings, it
will be sent back for rebriefing. Sartin v. State, 2010 Ark. 16, at 8, 362 S.W.3d 877, 882. The
requirement for abstracting and briefing every adverse ruling ensures that the due-process
concerns in Anders are met and prevents the unnecessary risk of a deficient Anders brief
resulting in an incorrect decision on counsel’s motion to withdraw. Id., 362 S.W.3d at 882.
Pursuant to Anders, we are required to determine whether the case is wholly frivolous after a
full examination of all the proceedings. T.S. v. State, 2017 Ark. App. 578, at 3, 534 S.W.3d
160, 162. A no-merit brief in a criminal case that fails to address an adverse ruling does not
satisfy the requirements of Rule 4-3(k)(1), and rebriefing will be required. Jester v. State, 2018
Ark. App. 360, at 2, 553 S.W.3d 198, 199 (citing Sartin, 2010 Ark. 16, at 8, 362 S.W.3d at
The record demonstrates that counsel abstracted and addressed the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting the circuit court’s decision to revoke Hull’s probation. However,
counsel failed to discuss three other adverse rulings.
At the onset of the revocation hearing, Hull advised the circuit court that he was
“dismissing” his appointed counsel by stating, “I don’t want him.” Hull then asked, “Can I
get an hour to at least call somebody else?” Hull stated that he did not want to represent
himself, he had previously spoken with a private attorney, and he should have paid the
attorney’s fee. The court denied Hull’s request to relieve his appointed counsel and his
request for a continuance to call a private attorney. After appointed counsel stated that he
was prepared to go forward with the revocation hearing, the court permitted Hull to
represent himself with the assistance of appointed counsel. During the revocation hearing,
Hull did not ask any questions of the State’s witness and instructed his appointed counsel
not to ask any questions. Hull did not call any witnesses on his behalf.
The circuit court’s denial of Hull’s requests to relieve his appointed counsel and for a
continuance to hire private counsel are adverse rulings. The circuit court’s denial of Hull’s
request to relieve his appointed attorney resulted in Hull’s representing himself, which raises
a third adverse ruling—whether Hull knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel.
Hull’s counsel has failed to explain why these adverse rulings would not be meritorious
grounds for reversal on appeal. Therefore, rebriefing is required. Jester, supra.
Counsel is encouraged to review Anders and Rule 4-3(k) of the Arkansas Rules of the
Supreme Court and Court of Appeals for the requirements of a no-merit brief. Counsel has
fifteen days from the date of this opinion to file a substituted brief that complies with the
rules. Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 4-2(b)(3) (2019). After counsel has filed the substituted brief, our clerk
will forward counsel’s motion and brief to Hull, and he will have thirty days within which to
raise pro se points in accordance with Rule 4-3(k). The State will likewise be given an
opportunity to file a responsive brief if pro se points are made.
Outcome: Rebriefing ordered; motion to withdraw denied.