The driving-while-intoxicated ticket an Arkansas State Police trooper gave the governor's son May 27 differs from the one filed in West Fork District Court, but because they have the same citation number and same charges, they are the same charging document, according to a filing Monday in Washington County Circuit Court.
That charging document was "properly served on the defendant and was also properly filed with the West Fork District Court," wrote Charles M. Duell, deputy prosecuting attorney for Washington County.
"As a result, defendant's motion to dismiss should be denied," Duell wrote.
William Asa Hutchinson III, 43, a Rogers lawyer, was arrested after the May 27 traffic stop. He was driving a 2017 GMC Yukon SUV southbound on Interstate 49 near West Fork, according to the police report.
Hutchinson was charged with DWI, speeding and refusal to submit to a chemical test.
He pleaded guilty to the DWI charge in West Fork District Court on Dec. 13. The other two charges against him were dismissed.
Hutchinson's lawyer, Bill Horton, then appealed the case to Washington County Circuit Court.
Horton said he wanted the motion to dismiss and another motion to be heard by "a court of record." Also, Hutchinson could get a jury trial in circuit court.
Duell refiled the charges for speeding and refusal to submit to a chemical test.
Hutchinson's case is scheduled for jury trial May 16 in Fayetteville.
Horton argued in an April 12 motion that the case should be dismissed because the ticket issued to Hutchinson differed from the one filed in court.
The three charges against Hutchinson were listed in a different order on the two tickets. Also, there was no signature line on one of the tickets, and there were handwritten numbers on the other one.
Hutchinson was issued an electronic ticket, which troopers can print out in their cars and hand to motorists, said Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police.
Duell addressed the discrepancies in his filing Monday.
"The computer program CitSearch, which electronically receives the citations from the arresting officers and then sends them to the proper venue for filing, in this particular case, changed the sequential order of two of the three same offenses charged, without changing any of the data entries," he wrote.
Sadler said CitSearch is a computer network used by court clerks. He said it "provides a means for the clerks to print or download tickets written by law enforcement officers" who use eCitation, an electronic ticketing system Arkansas began implementing in 2009.
Duell acknowledges that one ticket has a signature line and the other doesn't.
"While this difference is there, in this case, it is insignificant, inconsequential and unimportant," he wrote, "and does not make the two exhibits separately distinct charging instruments, because this citation was an electronic citation and as a result, it did not require a signature by the defendant anyway."
The handwritten numbers on the docketed ticket are "simply case numbers for court session worksheets written by the clerk for the court's docket," wrote Duell.
Also, a court session worksheet that had a different citation number than either of the tickets was simply a clerical error, Duell wrote. A clerk omitted a "9" in the citation number, he wrote.
A similar argument regarding citation discrepancies got Hutchinson out of a DWI conviction from 2016.
Hutchinson was arrested after his 2015 Ford F150 pickup crashed into a guardrail just before 4 a.m. Jan. 24, 2016, on Interstate 49 near Fayetteville.
A Fayetteville district judge convicted Hutchinson of driving while intoxicated, careless and prohibited driving and refusing to submit to a chemical test, but those charges were dismissed on appeal to Washington County Circuit Court because of differences in the state police citations.
The first citation marked the conditions at the time of the accident as "daylight," despite the accident occurring at 3 a.m., and a second citation correcting the first listed the location of the incident incorrectly. The first ticket had the word "VOID" marked across it.
Chad Atwell, Hutchinson's attorney at the time, argued that Hutchinson never received the citation actually used against him in court and that the statute of limitations on the corrected citation had passed.
Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay agreed. The case was dismissed in July 2017.
Horton cited Hutchinson's previous Washington County DWI case in the April 12 filing, but there are considerable differences in the two cases, Duell wrote.
"This case is not the same fact presentation as State v. Hutchinson, 72CR-2016- 2875-6, and is easily distinguishable from it," Duell wrote. "In that case, there were clearly two separate and distinct charging documents with two different citation numbers. One of the citations was served on the defendant but was clearly never filed with the court. The other charging document with a different charging number was filed with the court but was never served on the defendant. These are not the facts in this case."
Hutchinson was charged with first-offense DWI in the West Fork arrest. If a person has no DWI conviction on his record for the previous five years, it's considered a first-offense DWI, said Matthew Durrett, Washington County prosecuting attorney.
Metro on 04/23/2019
NW News on 04/24/2019
Print Headline: Official: Tickets for DWI proper