Supreme Court reverses conviction of woman whose baby tested positive for meth | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Supreme Court reverses conviction of woman whose baby tested positive for meth

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 9:44 AM

click to enlarge CONVICTION REVERSED: Melissa McCann Arms.
  • CONVICTION REVERSED: Melissa McCann Arms.
The Arkansas Supreme Court today reversed and dismissed the conviction and 20-year sentence of Melissa McCann Arms, charged with introducing a controlled substance into another person after both she and her newborn tested positive for methamphetamine after 2012 delivery of the child at a Mena hospital.

Arms admitted she'd ingested meth, but said she had not put the meth in the child and said the statute did not include an "unborn child." A jury convicted her and the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. The ACLU intervened with a friend of the court brief in the appeal to the Supreme Court. It argued that penalizing women who were struggling with substance abuse because they become and remain pregnant violated constitutional rights.

I don't have access to the opinion yet, but the court announcement of decisions today said the conviction was reversed and dismissed and the Court of Appeals ruling was vacated. Chief Justice Howard Brill and Justice Rhonda Wood issued concurrences to the opinion.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Jo Hart, notes that criminal statutes limit crimes to fetuses to homicides, thus it had to focus on the question of whether drugs were transmitted to the child after it was born and before the umbilical cord was severed. In that time, there is no evidence that the mother introduced drugs to the child. For the jury to conclude she had somehow otherwise transmited drugs required speculation. That is enough for reversal, Hart wrote.

But she said the state's case had more fundamental problems — no express statement in law that a "passive bodily process" that resulted in a drug taken by a mother reaching a fetus was a crime. Hart said these factors made it unnecessary to reach other arguments made in the case, such as the ACLU's constitutional objections.

Wood's concurrence said it was sufficient to reverse for lack of evidence. She said she wasn't ready to join the opinion that there could never be a conviction for transfer of a drug that a passive bodily function.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • ACLU: School crisis 60th no time for celebration. Plus, a message for the governor

    Rita Sklar, executive director of the Arkansas affiliate of the American Civil LIberties Union, has issued a statement taking issue with those who view the 60th anniversary of Central High's limited desegregation thanks to federal court and troops as a "celebration." Plus, my own suggestion for Monday speech-makers.
    • Sep 22, 2017
  • City identifies recipients of cop incentive payments who left force

    Blogger Russ Racop shares the fruits of his Freedom of Information Act request to determine who received $5,000 recruiting incentives to join the Little Rock Police Department and then left the force.
    • Sep 22, 2017
  • A Highway 10 traffic solution recommendation

    The Arkansas Department of Transportation has announced its preferences for interchange and other improvements along the Highway 10 corridor between Pleasant Valley Drive and Pleasant Ridge Road.
    • Sep 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • Sabin's subterfuge in the race for mayor has roots in rigged city government

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an ethics complaint has been filed saying that the exploratory committee Rep. Warwick Sabin created to prepare for a run for Little Rock mayor was a subterfuge to avoid the city ordinance that doesn't allow campaign fundraising to begin until five months before the November 2018 election.Of course it is.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

    The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.
    • Mar 9, 2016

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation