LITTLE ROCK — The state Court of Appeals can hear an appeal in the case of a Fort Smith police officer who was fired in 2014, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.
The Fort Smith Police Department says Don Paul Bales was fired for providing confidential information about a police matter to his attorney and lying about it. The Fort Smith Civil Service Commission upheld Bales’ firing, and Bales filed an appeal in Sebastian County Circuit Court.
In October 2015, a Sebastian County circuit judge dismissed Bales’ appeal, saying the circuit court lacked jurisdiction. Bales then filed an appeal with the state Court of Appeals.
The appellate court submitted a question to the state Supreme Court, asking whether the proper venue for the appeal was the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court said the appellate court has jurisdiction.
The state’s highest court said that although an Arkansas statute states that there is a right of appeal “from any action from the circuit court to the Supreme Court,” that statute dates back to 1933, before the Court of Appeals was established.
“Since 2000, civil-service-commission appeals have routinely been filed in the Court of Appeals absent a jurisdictional exception,” and no exception applies in Bales’ case, the Supreme Court said in an opinion written by Chief Justice Dan Kemp.