Arkansas Judicial System

Judge Mark Derrick
Bad Government In Arkansas Blog

A civil rights organization has filed a lawsuit alleging that an Arkansas district court judge is running an illegal “debtors’ prison” in White County. The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law contends that Judge Mark Derrick not only imposes excessive fines without evaluating the ability of defendants to pay, but also jails defendants for nonpayment 30 days at a time.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs, all residents of White County, who say they have been jailed or otherwise threatened with legal punishment for being unable to pay court-ordered fines.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a lawsuit filed by an Arkansas judge against members of the state Supreme Court should be dismissed.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen originally sued the sitting justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court after he was barred from hearing cases regarding the death penalty.


An anonymous scientific survey conducted on the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville campus to measure the incidence of nonconsensual sexual contact revealed that 31 percent of women sampled reported being victims. Such contact includes campus rapes and sexual assaults as well as unwanted sexual touching.

The survey was conducted at the urging of an Arkansas legislator raising awareness about widespread sexual violence on college campuses, and that Arkansas is among more than a dozen states that do not teach comprehensive sex education in public schools — including what constitutes sexual consent.

Further illuminating the widely-reported UA survey, a female student who claims she was sexually assaulted carried around a bed sheet for weeks, raising alarm.

Primary elections are set for May 22, the same day as the deciding nonpartisan judicial election for Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice. Three candidates, including the incumbent, are vying for the seat.

Justice Courtney Goodson was elected in 2010, and is seeking another eight-year term on the bench. Arkansas Department of Human Services Chief Legal Counsel David Sterling and state Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson are running to unseat Goodson. 

Facebook/Arkansas Secretary of State/Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

There’s one seat up for grabs on the Arkansas’s highest court, and it belongs to Justice Courtney Goodson.

She’s seeking another eight-year term, and has two challengers in the nonpartisan judicial election: state Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson, and Department of Human Services Chief Counsel David Sterling.

And while all three say they want to focus on the issues, a bigger story has loomed large over the race. Both Goodson and Hixson have been the subject of T-V and online ads from dark money groups; ones that don’t have to disclose their donors.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it'll hear oral arguments over a judge's decision to prevent the state from licensing companies to grow medical marijuana.

Justices on Monday agreed to hear arguments June 7 in the state's appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's decision striking down the licensing process for medical marijuana cultivation facilities. Griffen ruled the process violated the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for certain medical conditions.

In 2005, Jaime Mann was cited for several traffic violations in Craighead County — not having insurance, not wearing a seatbelt, and hazardous driving. She was charged about $500. She paid some of it, but then she started racking up fees and fines for the money and community service hours she owed.  

 

"And then it started spiraling out of control, and I was so mad, I remember, because I thought, ‘I paid this ticket,'" she said.

Example of someone holding a chicken by its feet in a processing plant.
Image via U.S. Department of Defense

The ACLU of Arkansas is investigating claims that an organization in Oklahoma known as Christian Alcoholics and Addicts In Recover (CAAIR) "is operating forced labor camps disguised as rehabilitation centers", according to a press release.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

The Arkansas Parole Board is halting action under the state's new law that eliminates mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles after a judge said it's unconstitutional.

KATV

A central Arkansas prosecutor has been nominated for a U.S. attorney post in the state.

The White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump has nominated Cody Hiland to serve as U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas.

Hiland is currently the prosecuting attorney for the state's 20th judicial district, which includes Faulkner, Van Buren and Searcy counties. Hiland has formerly worked at the Arkansas Public Service Commission, the Arkansas Transitional Employment Board and is a former legislative liaison and aide for former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

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