LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas law limiting lawsuits by inmates does not apply to criminal proceedings, the Arkansas Supreme Court said Thursday.


The state’s highest court made the statement in a ruling in the case of Jessie Hill, who was convicted of capital murder in Grant County Circuit Court in 1995.


Hill was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole in the slaying of Arbrady Moss. In 2016, Hill filed a petition seeking an order compelling the prosecuting attorney to turn over information from his case.


On May 12, 2016, Grant County Circuit Judge Chris Williams denied the petition and recorded that it counted toward the limit established under Arkansas Code Annotated 16-68-607.


The law states, “In no event shall an incarcerated person bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under the Arkansas indigency statutes if the incarcerated person has on three or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action that is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the incarcerated person is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.”


On May 24, 2016, Hill filed a motion seeking a stay of the judge’s ruling and reconsideration of it. Williams denied that motion and counted it as a second strike under the law.


The Supreme Court said in a unanimous opinion Thursday the law clearly “does not apply in criminal proceedings.” Williams’ findings that the filings counted as strikes under the law are void, the court said.