Ark. R. Civ. P. 60
Amended July 9, 1984, effective September 1, 1984; amended December 10, 1990, effective February 1, 1991; amended January 27, 2000; amended May 24, 2001, effective July 1, 2001.
Reporter's Notes to Rule 60: 1. This rule is substantially different from FRCP 60. Its purpose is to substantially retain existing Arkansas law on the subject. The Court feels that the adoption of FRCP 60 would detract from the stability of final judgments and that the changes which would be made in Arkansas law are highly undesirable. The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic fraud as a basis for relief from a judgment is considered an important and desirable one. 2. This rule would make the same provision for relatively unlimited control of judgments by circuit courts as that made for chancery courts by Ark. Stat. Ann. §§ 22-406.1 et seq. (Repl. 1962). This makes for uniformity not only as between the two courts but also as among judgments in a particular court, regardless of the time elapsed between entry of the judgment and expiration of a term of court. 3. Under prior Arkansas law, the trial court lost jurisdiction to set aside or modify a judgment after term time except on those grounds specified in superseded Ark. Stat. Ann. § 29-506 (Repl. 1962). Davis v. McBride, 247 Ark. 895, 448 S.W.2d 37 (1969); Hardin v. Hardin, 237 Ark. 237, 372 S.W.2d 260 (1973). Under prior Arkansas law, the trial court had the power to correct, in certain instances, its judgment even after an appeal had been docketed in the Arkansas Supreme Court. Superseded Ark. Stat. Ann. § 27-2129.1 (Repl. 1962). Under this rule, however, once the appeal is docketed, a change can be made only with leave of the Supreme Court. 4. In subsection (c)(1) the one year limitation follows the recommendation of the Committee in its proposed Rule 60. 5. Subsection (k) follows Section (b) of FRCP 60 by permitting a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment. Bankers Mortgage Co. v. United States, 423 F. 2d 73 (C.C.A. 5t h, 1970), cert. den., 90 S. Ct. 2242. Arkansas has previously recognized the power of an equity court to review a judgment from a court of law, although such power is severely limited. Cotton v. Hamblin, 233 Ark. 65, 342 S.W.2d 478 (1961). 6. Section (k) provides for the abolition of writs of error and bills of review. While these have not been common under prior Arkansas law, they have been permitted under Article 7, Section 4, of the Arkansas Constitution. However, any relief which could be granted by a court of equity under a bill of review can also be afforded under this rule; hence, it should have little effect on Arkansas practice and procedure. Additions to Reporter's Notes, 1984 Amendments: Rule 60(b) is modified to remove the references to the law prior to January 1, 1970, and to replace it with language from cases describing the broad power of a court to modify or set aside its judgment during the term of court in which it was entered. See Karoley v. A.R. & T. Electronics, 235 Ark. 609, 363 S.W.2d 120 (1962) and the cases cited in that opinion. Rule 60(c)(5) is amended to remove "married women" from the classes of persons to which the Rule applies. The caption of the Rule is amended to include "Modification." Addition to Reporter's Note, 1990 Amendment: Rule 60 has been amended to eliminate any overlap with Rule 55. Under former subdivision (c)(7) of Rule 60, a trial court could set aside a judgment "[f]or unavoidable casualty or misfortune preventing the party from appearing or defending." The 1990 amendment deletes this provision, which has been cited in default judgment cases. E.g., McGee v. Wilson, 275 Ark. 466, 631 S.W.2d 292 (1982). Moreover, the new opening language of paragraph (c) specifically states that Rule 60 does not apply to default judgments, "which may be set aside in accordance with Rule 55(c)." Addition to Reporter's Notes, 2000 Amendment: Subdivisions (a) and (b) of the rule have been revised in response to case law. In addition, subdivision (c) has been amended by changing the cross-reference in paragraph (1) from Rule 59(c) to Rule 59(b), and by revising paragraph (4). As originally adopted, subdivision (a) provided that the trial court could "at any time" correct clerical mistakes and errors "arising from oversight or omission." Under subdivision (b), the trial court could "correct any error or mistake or to prevent the miscarriage of justice" by modifying or setting aside a judgment, decree or order within 90 days of its having been filed with the clerk. Despite this apparent dichotomy, the Supreme Court held that the 90-day limitation in subdivision (b) also applied to subdivision (a). See, e.g., Ross v. Southern Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co., 333 Ark. 227, 968 S.W.2d 622(1998); Phillips v. Jacobs, 305 Ark. 365, 807 S.W.2d 923(1991). The Supreme Court subsequently held in Lord v. Mazzanti, 335 Ark 25, 2 S.W.3d 76 (1999), that "clerical mistakes" under subdivision (a) can be corrected at any time and overruled any language to the contrary in Phillips and Ross. This amendment is consistent with Lord v. Mazzanti, supra. As amended, subdivision (a) is a slightly modified version of former subdivision (b). It states the general rule that the court may, with prior notice to all parties, modify a judgment, decree or order within 90 days of its filing with the clerk to "correct errors or mistakes or to prevent the miscarriage of justice." Revised subdivision (b) expressly states an exception for "clerical mistakes" and errors "arising from oversight or omission," which may be corrected at any time with prior notice to all parties. Amended paragraph (4) of subdivision (c) allows a judgment, decree or order to be modified or set aside "[f]or misrepresentation or fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic) by an adverse party." This language, taken in part from Rule 60(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, eliminates the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic fraud, a distinction that has been described as "shadowy, uncertain, and somewhat arbitrary." Howard v. Scott, 125 S.W. 1158, 1166 (Mo. 1909); see also C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure 2861 (1995) (distinction is "very troublesome and unsound"). Under the prior rule, only extrinsic fraud was a ground for setting aside or modifying a judgment. This has resulted in unfairness. See, e.g., Ward v. McCord, 61 Ark. App. 271, 966 S.W.2d 925 (1998) (husband's concealment of bank account from wife during negotiations leading to property settlement in divorce action was not extrinsic fraud); Office of Child Support Enforcement v. Mitchell, 61 Ark. App. 54, 964 S.W.2d 218 (1998) (mother's failure to mention in affidavit filed in paternity case that a man other than defendant could have been the father of her child was not extrinsic fraud); Office of Child Support Enforcement v. Offutt, 61 Ark. App. 207, 966 S.W.2d 275 (1998) (conduct of attorney in preparing precedent containing findings not made by the court and mailing it to the judge with a letter requesting that he sign the order if no objection was received from opposing counsel did not constitute extrinsic fraud). Addition to Reporter's Notes, 2001 Amendment: The references to "trial court" in subdivisions (h) and (i) have been replaced with "circuit court." Constitutional Amendment 80 established the circuit courts as the "trial courts of original jurisdiction" in the state and abolished the separate chancery and probate courts.