Arkansas Courts

Arkansas' attorney general is asking the state Supreme Court to reassign cases involving her office from a judge who has been prohibited from handling execution cases, accusing him of regularly being biased against her staff.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday requested that the court reassign the civil cases from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. He was prohibited from handling execution cases in 2017 after he participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas's attorney general is seeking to move lawsuits challenging a measure giving the prison director authority to determine an inmate's competency to be executed to federal court.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Thursday filed notice to move the lawsuits by death row inmates Bruce Ward and Jack Greene from Jefferson County Circuit Court. The state Supreme Court in November struck down an earlier version of the mental competency law.

Legislators this year approved a reworked version of the law, and the inmates are seeking to have it overturned.

Jason Rapert Ten 10 Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge is temporarily restricting who can see the video deposition of a legislator who sponsored a measure requiring a Ten Commandments statue at the Arkansas Capitol in a lawsuit challenging the monument.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary order Wednesday preventing additional copies of state Sen. Jason Rapert's deposition from being made or distributed. An attorney for Rapert, a Republican who sponsored the 2015 law requiring the privately funded monument, had asked that the video only be available to attorneys in the case.

Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd on Friday said he is taking the rare action to remove a colleague from a House seat.

Shepherd, R-El Dorado, wrote a letter to House members explaining that he intends to put forth a resolution calling for the “immediate removal” of Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, from the chamber. Gates pleaded last month no contest to not paying state income taxes and worked out an agreement to pay part of what he owed.

Safe Surgery Arkansas is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to appoint a special master to review its signature collections and it is challenging the legality of a new law that was used by the Secretary of State to reject counting its petitions.

Mike Laux Lloyd St. Clair Benjamin Crump No knock raids police
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Attorneys have filed four new federal lawsuits alleging that Little Rock's use of no-knock warrants in police drug raids violated the U.S. Constitution.

Civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Mike Laux said Thursday the lawsuits against the City of Little Rock and officers with the Little Rock Police Department demonstrate police falsely obtained affidavits and were unreasonable in searches of residences.

Jake Files
Arkansas Times

A federal judge has denied a former Arkansas state senator's request to be released from a federal prison in Oklahoma where he has served just more than one year of an 18-month prison term for fraud and money laundering.

Republican Jake Files of Fort Smith filed the request last Friday, one year after reporting to the prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, to serve his sentence .

The Department of Justice has scheduled executions for five federal inmates in December and January, including Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted in 1999 of murdering a family in Pope County, Arkansas. The executions are to be the first by the U.S. government since 2003.

Lee’s execution, set for Dec. 9, is to be the first of the five and was ordered by U.S. Attorney General William Barr to adopt an addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol.

Jennifer Merritt
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge blocked three new abortion restrictions from taking effect Wednesday in  Arkansas , including a measure that opponents say would likely force the state's only surgical abortion clinic to close.

Jennifer Merritt
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An official with Arkansas's only surgical abortion clinic said Monday that the facility could close within a month if a federal judge doesn't block a new law restricting who can perform abortions in the state.

Rita Sklar ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas is retiring after nearly three decades heading the group.

The ACLU of Arkansas on Monday announced the retirement of Rita Sklar, who has served as the organization's executive director since 1992. The group said Holly Dickson, its legal director, will serve as interim director and a national search will be announced soon.

Jeremy Hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A former Arkansas lawmaker who is the governor's nephew has admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to help a health nonprofit as part of a plea deal in a sprawling federal corruption investigation.

Linda Collins-Smith
Arkansas Legislature

A new judge has been named to handle the case surrounding the killing of a former Arkansas lawmaker who was found dead outside her home.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp on Thursday named retired Circuit Judge David Goodson to preside over the case involving the killing of former Sen. Linda Collins. Judge Harold Erwin had been presiding over the case and the order said he requested the reassignment but doesn't say why.

Abortion rights supporters are challenging three new Arkansas restrictions on the procedure, including one that bans abortions 18 weeks into a woman's pregnancy.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday and are asking a judge to block the restrictions before they take effect July 24.

Arkansas currently bans abortion 20 weeks into a woman's pregnancy. The restrictions challenged are among several approved by the majority-Republican Legislature this year.

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson appeared in federal court Tuesday to change his pleas on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion. He had originally faced 25 counts stemming from three separate cases in Arkansas and Missouri. Before U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, Hutchinson changed his pleas in two of those cases to guilty.

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