In its January 15, 2009 decision in Emilia Duke v. Shinpaugh (Case No. 08-311), the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that “where the circuit court based its decision on two independent grounds and appellant challenges only one on appeal, the appellate court will affirm without addressing either.”
It was clear in that case that the circuit court judge had based its decision on two clearly independent grounds. The Arkansas Supreme Court clarified that its standard of review on appeal from a bench trial is whether the lower court’s findings were clearly erroneous or clearly against the preponderance of the evidence. Under that standard of review, the Arkansas Supreme Court determined that it was precluded from addressing the appellant’s assertions of error because the appellant had failed to challenge both independent grounds for the circuit court’s decision.