Arkansas Courts

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.

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson arriving in court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing in his corruption case.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker nearly nine months after he was indicted by a federal grand jury in a wide-ranging public corruption scheme. 

The hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas will be held at the Richard Sheppard Arnold U.S. Courthouse at noon in downtown Little Rock.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

A federal judge has halted his order blocking Arkansas from enforcing a law that prevents candidates for state office from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. on Wednesday granted Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's request to stay his preliminary injunction against the law while Rutledge appeals his decision. Moody issued the preliminary injunction blocking the law on Monday.

Rebecca Becky Lynn O'Donnell being escorted into the Randolph County Courthouse Monday where she was formally charged with capital murder in the death of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins.
KAIT-TV / Twitter

An Arkansas woman has been charged with capital murder in the killing of a former state senator whose body was found outside her own home.

A state judge also found probable cause Monday to charge 48-year-old Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, Jonesboro television station KAIT reported . The judge did not set bond for O'Donnell, who was arrested Friday in former Sen. Linda Collins' death.

Authorities haven't said how Collins was killed.

Civil rights attorneys Mike Laux (left) and Benjamin Crump at a press conference in December regarding the Little Rock Police Department's use of no-knock raids.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A civil rights attorney representing several people who claimed they were unfairly targeted by Little Rock police with no-knock raids says he’s encouraged by the department’s effort to reform its policy. On Wednesday, Police Chief Keith Humphrey unveiled a new threat assessment system that will be used to determine when carrying out a search warrant rises to the level of a no-knock raid.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen taking part in an anti-death penalty demonstration in front of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion in April 2017.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An ethics complaint has been dismissed against Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen for taking part in a death penalty demonstration in April 2017 on the same day he blocked the state from using an execution drug. Now Griffen is demanding he be given back the power to consider death penalty cases.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal lawsuit alleges the voting system for some Arkansas judges violates black residents' rights by diluting the strength of the vote.

Lawyers for the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the lawsuit Tuesday. It says that because the state's seven Supreme Court judges are elected statewide instead of by district, the white voting bloc overpowers the votes of black Arkansas residents.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A disciplinary panel says Arkansas Supreme Court justices don't have to testify in an ethics hearing over a judge's participation in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug.

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission issued an order Friday granting justices' request to block their testimony in next week's hearing against Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.

A rendering of an expanded I-30 corridor in downtown Little Rock. 30 Crossing
Arkansas Department of Transportation

Several neighborhood groups and residents are asking a federal judge to halt a $1 billion plan to widen a highway connecting downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock.

The lawsuit filed Monday challenges the "30 Crossing" plan to widen and reconstruct roughly 7 miles of Interstates 30 and 40 in the cities' downtowns.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The Little Rock Police Department will face continued scrutiny of its use of deadly force with the filing of a federal civil lawsuit Monday. The family James Hartsfield claims the officer used excessive force and that the city is also responsible for failing to properly train its officers.  

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 in Little Rock has again denied an Oklahoma man's request for a new trial following his 1999 federal murder conviction and death sentence in Arkansas.

The request by Danny Lee to overturn his conviction in the deaths of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife and her 8-year-old daughter, and stealing guns and cash in a plot to establish a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest was rejected Tuesday.

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