Arkansas Supreme Court

Objecting to the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that lower-court judges can require that defendants pay their bail only in cash, the high court's chief justice cited a musician seldom thought of as a legal scholar: Johnny Cash.

Interim Chief Justice Howard Brill on Thursday cited Cash's song "Starkville City Jail" in a dissent. He said it was wrong for the majority to deny a Benton County man's objection to a $300,000 cash-only bail set in an assault and battery case.

The Arkansas attorney general's office is asking the state Supreme Court to hold oral arguments in the state's appeal of a lower court's ruling not to dismiss a constitutional challenge to Arkansas' execution secrecy law.

The Supreme Court previously stayed eight executions until the challenge filed by a handful of death row inmates is heard.

Arkansas filed its appeal brief late Thursday, saying the inmates had failed to prove constitutional issues with the law that allows the source of the drugs to be kept secret.

Arkansas' high court says a death row inmate isn't entitled to a new sentencing hearing just because his lawyer may have delivered "one of the worst" closing arguments of his career.

The Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday reversed a Benton County judge's order for a new hearing and asked the lower court to reconsider the request with a more objective test to determine if Brandon Lacy's lawyer performed adequately.

Lacy was sentenced to death after he was found guilty of capital murder and aggravated robbery in the 2007 slaying of Randall Walker.

A nonprofit backed by two former Arkansas Supreme Court justices is urging judicial candidates to disavow "false" communications on their behalf by outside groups in their races.

The Arkansas Judicial Campaign Conduct and Education Committee on Thursday said it was encouraging candidates to sign the pledge before the March 1 judicial elections. The committee's board of directors includes former Justices Annabelle Imber Tuck and Robert L. Brown.

A Hot Springs man is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to revive his lawsuit challenging a university's loan to the Oxford American magazine, arguing the textbook revenues and other cash used to pay for the loan are public funds.

Justices heard oral arguments Thursday in James McCafferty's appeal of a lower court's dismissal of his lawsuit challenging the University of Central Arkansas' $700,000 loan to the magazine.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments Thursday in a case in which a citizen accuses the Oxford American Magazine of illegally spending public money.


Former Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah, who led the court as it tackled high-profile cases involving voter ID, gay marriage and school funding, has died. He was 71.

The state Supreme Court announced that Hannah died Thursday. Hannah had stepped down from the court last year due to unspecified health problems. The court did not give a cause of death.

Hannah was elected to the state Supreme Court in 2000 and was elected chief justice in 2004. He was re-elected to a full eight-year term in 2008.

Fort Smith attorney Brad Jesson, who served as Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and was one of the early political supporters of an unknown Dale Bumpers, has passed away. He was 83, and would have been 84 on Jan. 26.

Little Rock School District buses

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't reconsider its decision that the state Department of Education can't be sued over its takeover of the Little Rock School District.

Justices on Thursday denied a petition to rehear its October ruling granting the state's appeal of a lower court's decision. A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge in March denied the state's request to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling the state could be sued for its decision to take over the Little Rock district and dissolve its school board.

The state Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

The Arkansas Supreme Court kept the state from having to disclose where it gets its three execution drugs on Friday, temporarily putting on hold a lower-court's order to make that information public. It's the latest in the long, multifaceted legal battle over the constitutionality of Arkansas' execution law.

Here are key dates to know:

Nov. 28, 2005 - Eric Nance, convicted of killing an 18-year-old woman, is the last person to be executed in Arkansas before the legal wrangling begins.