State Supreme Court upholds denial of prisoner’s claim

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday said Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis was correct when she rejected a state prison inmate’s claim that his rights were being violated.

Joseph Ritter was convicted of rape and kidnapping in Searcy County Circuit Court in 1997 and was sentenced to 228 months in prison for rape and 114 months for kidnapping, with the sentences to be served consecutively.

In his filing, Ritter argued that the Arkansas Department of Correction calculations of the date he would be eligible to apply for transfer to a community punishment facility were incorrect based on state law at the time he was convicted. At that time, the law provided that a person convicted of rape or kidnapping had to serve 70 percent of their sentence, excluding any meritorious good time the prisoner might receive.

Rittter contended that the law only applied to parole eligibility, not to a transfer to a community punishment facility.

The high court ruling said that while Ritter claimed that the Arkansas General Assembly did not intend for the law to apply to transfers to a community punishment facility, he failed to set out any convincing argument or legal authority to support his claim.

“Where a party fails to cite to authority or fails to provide convincing arguments, we will not consider the merits of the argument,” the court ruling said. “