Arkansas Courts

Paul Petersen
You Tube

An Arizona official charged with running an adoption-fraud scheme involving women from the Marshall Islands has asked an Arkansas court to delay trial for 10 months.

Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen is accused of smuggling and paying pregnant women from the small nation in the western Pacific to give up their children for adoption in the U.S. He faces 62 charges in Arkansas, Arizona and Utah.

Rusty Cranford
Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

A lobbyist who pleaded guilty to bribing three former Arkansas state lawmakers, including the governor's nephew, has been sentenced to seven years in prison without parole.

Rusty Cranford was sentenced in federal court Monday for bribing Republican state Sen. Jon Woods, Democratic state Rep. Hank Wilkins and Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson. Prosecutors say Cranford paid the bribes to benefit the Missouri-based nonprofit Preferred Family HealthCare, whose former executives also face charges.

A former lobbyist who pleaded guilty as part of a corruption investigation that ensnared several Arkansas state lawmakers is to be sentenced Monday. Rusty Cranford could face up to 10 years in federal prison, but his defense attorney says Cranford’s cooperation with investigators should weigh heavily with the judge.

Since pleading guilty to a federal bribery charge in June 2018, Cranford has repeatedly met with investigators and appeared before federal grand juries.

Linda Collins and Rebecca O'Donnell
Arkansas Times

A judge has set a fall 2020 trial date for a woman charged with killing a former Arkansas state lawmaker who was found dead outside her home.

Jonesboro television station KAIT report s that the judge on Friday scheduled Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell's trial to begin Oct. 19. She is charged with capital murder in the death of former Republican state Sen. Linda Collins.

Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge ordered a journalist be released after she served a few hours of her three-day sentence for recording proceedings in a homicide case.

Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren sentenced Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye Tuesday for contempt of court. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports she was released Wednesday.

Omeronye, a KNWA TV reporter, admitted to making an audio recording during a hearing in Mauricio Torres' capital murder case last month. She testified that she recorded to ensure she took accurate notes.

Danny Lee at an arraignment hearing on Oct. 31, 1997 for the murders of members of a Russellville family. A federal judge Tuesday denied a request for a new trial.
The Russellville Courier

A federal judge has temporarily halted the first federal execution in 16 years as a lawsuit on how the government intends to carry it out continues.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutka said in a Wednesday evening ruling that the public is not served by "short-circuiting" legitimate judicial process.

"It is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed lawfully," she wrote.

Nkirurka Omeronge
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas county judge has sentenced a television reporter to three days in jail for recording a hearing in a homicide case.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren sentenced KNWA reporter Nkirurka Omeronge on Tuesday. Karren found her in contempt of court during Mauricio Torres' capital murder proceedings last month.

Jim Hendren Hendren Plastics
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge has ruled a drug recovery program and a company owned by an Arkansas state lawmaker violated labor laws by requiring participants to work full-time without getting paid. It’s considered an alternative to jail time, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks said the two entities manipulated the labor market for their own benefit.

Arkasnas Business reporter Mark Friedman wrote about that in this week's issue:

John Walker
Arkansas Times

The body of lawmaker and civil rights attorney John Walker will lie in state at Arkansas' capitol as part of his funeral arrangements this week.

Secretary of State John Thurston announced that Walker's body will lie in state at the Capitol on Thursday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the second-floor rotunda. Walker, 82, died at his Little Rock home on Monday.

The funeral for Walker is scheduled for St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, at 11 a.m. Friday.

Attorney and state Rep. John Walker of Little Rock.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas civil rights attorney and state lawmaker John Walker has died. He was 82. The Pulaski County Coroner’s Office says he died Monday at his home in Little Rock. A cause was not immediately reported.

Vaping
ecigarettereviewed.com / Wikimedia Commons

An Arkansas teenager who began vaping last year is suing a leading e-cigarette maker, accusing the company of deceptive marketing and fraudulently concealing the addictive nature of its products.

The unnamed teenager and his mother filed the lawsuit against Juul Labs, Inc. last week in federal court in Little Rock and are seeking class action status on behalf of all Arkansas residents who bought or used Juul's products. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge who demonstrated against the death penalty is asking the state Supreme Court to dismiss the attorney general's request to prohibit the judge from hearing cases involving her office.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen told the state Supreme Court Thursday that the request by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to reassign the civil cases is a "blatant attempt" to defy Arkansas' constitution and its process for investigating complaints against judges. Rutledge has accused Griffen of regularly demonstrating bias against her staff in his court.

Little rock school district
KATV-Channel 7

The Arkansas Board of Education’s new plan for a partial return of local control to the Little Rock School District is raising concerns from many. It divides the district into three separate categories that will be afforded varying degrees of local control.

Lower performing schools will be placed in Category 3, receiving the least amount of local control. The curriculum and personnel decisions of these schools will remain under state control.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

A hearing was held Tuesday to consider a request by Arkansas's attorney general that a judge not be allowed to hear cases involving her office. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen responded by playing an audio recording of a Sept. 13th hearing after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge alleged he displayed inappropriate behavior toward a member of her staff.

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.

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