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AR Court of Appeals - April 20, 2016

Fletcher v. State - Rule 36 appeal from district court to circuit court - appeal dismissed

This appeal was taken in an attempt to have Arkansas's DWI Implied Consent (VICL) law declared unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the appeal was dismissed and the merits of the case never addressed. The reason for dismissal, though, is important to consider. Fletcher attempted to appeal his conviction of Violation of the Implied Consent Law (VICL, otherwise known as refusing the chemical test in a DWI) from district court to circuit court. Rule 36 provides the method of doing so, and provides a strict time limit of 30 days from the entry of the judgment in district court (with some exceptions that aren't important here). Due to an error that was out of Fletcher's control, the appeal to circuit court was not filed timely. The court here ruled that the burden is on the person filing the appeal to make sure it is done timely, and since that didn't happen here the appeal to circuit court was never valid in the first place, therefore the appeal to the Court of Appeals could not be considered and had to be dismissed. The takeaway: make sure you follow up on anything that might affect your case.