Timothy Edwards v. State of Arkansas

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April 6, 2005







Andree Layton Roaf, Judge

Timothy Edwards was convicted of robbery and sentenced to forty years' imprisonment. He appeals the denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized during his arrest and the photo-lineup used during the police investigation of the robbery. Because the Arkansas Supreme Court in Edwards v. State, ___ Ark. ___, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Jan. 27, 2005), has already decided the issues raised in this appeal, we affirm.

Edwards was charged with theft of property and aggravated robbery of four establishments in the Little Rock, Arkansas area. Before trial, Edwards filed a motion to suppress evidence. Although the four trials were severed, only one suppression hearing was held for all four cases. At the suppression hearing, Edwards challenged the search of apartment 112 in the Spring Valley Apartment Complex, room 117 at the Super 7 Motel located at 9525 I-30, and his arrest and the subsequent search of his motel room, room 144 at the Motel 6 located at 400 West 29th Street in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Edwards also challenged the photo lineup presented to the four victims during the investigation of the robberies. Edward's motion to suppress was denied, and on December 9, 2003, he stood jury trial for the March 17 robbery and theft-of-property offenses that are the subject of this appeal (CACR04-407). Edwards was found guilty and sentenced to forty years' imprisonment as a habitual offender. On January 7, 2004, Edwards stood trial for the March 9 robbery. In that case, CR04-0382, Edwards received a life sentence. Edwards appealed his life sentence to the Arkansas Supreme Court and filed a timely notice of appeal of his conviction in CACR04-407 to this court. At the time Edwards filed his appeal in this court, the appeal of CR04-0382 was still pending. Edwards indicates that the issues presented to the supreme court in CR04-0382 are identical to those issues presented in this appeal from case number CACR04-407.1

It is well settled that Arkansas Supreme Court precedent binds this court. Brewer v. State, 68 Ark. App. 216, 6 S.W.3d 124 (1999). More importantly, any inconsistency between precedents set by the supreme court and the court of appeals must be resolved in favor of the precedent announced by the supreme court, and it is well established that this court is without authority to overrule a decision of the supreme court. Box v. State, 348 Ark. 116, 71 S.W.3d 552 (2002).

The supreme court handed down a decision in case number CR04-0382 on January 27, 2005. Edwards v. State, ___ Ark. ___, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Jan. 27, 2005) ("Edwards I"). Therein, the supreme court rejected Edwards's challenges to the searches of the Spring Valley apartment, the room at the Super 7 Motel, and his arrest and the search of his room at the Motel 6 in North Little Rock. Edwards I, supra.

Here, Edwards's points on appeal do not differ from those raised in the prior appeal. In fact, the prefatory statement in Edwards's abstract indicates that the issues presented to the Arkansas Supreme Court are identical to the questions presented to this court for review. More importantly, it is clear after reading Edwards I and the arguments set out in Edwards's brief in the instant case that the issues presented to this court for review are identical to those already considered by the supreme court in Edwards I. Because the supreme court has considered Edwards's suppression arguments raised in the instant appeal, the supreme court's decision handed down earlier with regard to the suppression challenge is binding in this subsequent appeal. See Box, supra. As we have many times stated, this court is bound to follow the precedent set by the supreme court, Brewer, supra, and we are powerless to overrule it. Box, supra. Accordingly, we affirm.


Glover, J., agrees

Bird, J., concurs.

1 The doctrine of the law of the case provides that the "decision of an appellate court establishes the law of the case for the trial upon remand and the for the appellate court itself upon subsequent review." Kemp v. State, 335 Ark. 139, 142, 983 S.W.2d 383, 385 (1998). The doctrine prevents an issue raised in a prior appeal from being raised in a subsequent appeal unless the evidence materially varies between the two appeals. Id. We adhere to this doctrine to preserve consistency and to avoid reconsideration of matters previously decided. Id. However, we are mindful that the law-of-the-case doctrine is not directly analogous because this case did not involve a remand to the trial court and subsequent appeal.