Arkansas Courts

A federal judge has rejected the Little Rock School District's motion to delay a coming trial on Arkansas' request to end long-running desegregation payments to three school districts.

Judge D. Price Marshall on Tuesday rejected the district's request to stay proceedings in the trial, set to begin Dec. 9. 

Little Rock schools argued that the trial should be delayed while a federal appeals court considers their claim that Arkansas' approval of charter schools in Pulaski County violates the desegregation agreement.

Arkansas Lawmakers To Discuss School Funding Issues

Oct 15, 2013

Arkansas lawmakers are set to discuss a state Supreme Court ruling that revives a lawsuit challenging the way the state funds education. 

The House and Senate Education committees planned to meet jointly Tuesday to discuss school funding issues such as transportation and school facilities. 

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and Senior Assistant Attorney General Scott Richardson were scheduled to discuss pending litigation that could affect educational adequacy.

Court Partially Revives Arkansas School-Funding Case

Oct 10, 2013

The Arkansas Supreme Court has revived part of a lawsuit challenging the way the state funds its public schools.

On Thursday, justices reversed part of a Pulaski County judge's decision dismissing a lawsuit by the Deer/Mount Judea School District that claims the state has not lived up to the reforms ending the long-running Lake View school funding suit.

The court ruled that Deer/Mount Judea raised new issues that have emerged since the Lake View case ended in 2007.

Judge Reconsidering Order In Tony Alamo Civil Case

Oct 10, 2013

A judge is reconsidering his order that requires the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries sell several properties to satisfy multi-million dollar judgments against the jailed evangelist. 

The Texarkana Gazette reports that about 100 ministry members attended a bench trial Wednesday at U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant's Texarkana courtroom. 

The members say that the properties are owned collectively by church members and not Alamo, who is serving a 175-year federal prison sentence.

Faulkner County Escapee Due In Court For Hearing

Sep 30, 2013

One of the three inmates who escaped the Faulkner County jail last month is due in court.

The Log Cabin Democrat reports that 27-year-old Joel Vermillion is due in Faulkner County Circuit Court Monday for two pretrial hearings and a revocation hearing.

The pretrial hearings are on charges of forgery, possession with intent to sell drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and third-degree escape.

The revocation hearing is related to a 2012 charge of illegal possession of a firearm.

Judge Holding Hearing On Arkansas Sex Offender Law

Sep 26, 2013

A federal judge is to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging an Arkansas law that prohibits registered sex offenders from receiving Medicaid funds.

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson is scheduled to hear arguments in Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker's effort to block enforcement of the law while Parker challenges its constitutionality.

The law was approved by the state Legislature earlier this year and took effect Aug. 16.

Parker was convicted in 2000 of possessing child pornography, but has long maintained his innocence and had his medical license reinstated in 2005.

A retrial is set to begin for a former Little Rock police officer charged with manslaughter in a teenager's death. 

Josh Hastings' retrial is to get underway on Monday in Little Rock. A jury deadlocked at a trial earlier this year. 

Hastings is charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of 15-year-old Bobby Moore III.

Judge Wendell Griffen has repeatedly refused to recuse from the case, even though Hastings' lawyer, Bill James, asked him to do so.

Judge In Hastings Case Again Asked To Recuse

Sep 11, 2013

A lawyer for a former Little Rock police officer charged with manslaughter is again asking the trial judge to step away from the case.

Attorney Bill James on Tuesday asked Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen to recuse from presiding at Josh Hastings' trial, which is set to begin Monday.

Griffen denied a previous request by James that he step aside, claiming there was no evidence he's biased.

Arkansas AG Reaches Settlement With Nevada-based Firm

Sep 4, 2013

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says Arkansas has reached a settlement with a Nevada telecommunications company accused of continuing to bill consumers after they had cancelled their long-distance telephone services.

McDaniel filed suit against Consumer Telcom, Inc., in 2010, alleging the company charged for "bundled" services that many Arkansans were unaware they had purchased.

In the settlement, the company agreed to make clear what type of services they are receiving and provide explicit instructions on how to cancel them.

4 Sentenced After Arkansas Drug Trafficking Sweep

Aug 30, 2013

Four people have been sentenced to more than 25 years in prison as the result of a 2011 drug-trafficking investigation by Arkansas law agencies.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Conner Eldridge announced the sentences Thursday.

The individuals sentenced this week were part of a 190-count indictment filed in September 2011, which was dubbed Operation Stateline Sweep and named 66 defendants.

The punishments for the four defendants range from more than three years to 10 years in prison.

Same-Sex Couples Want To Drop Governor, AG In Suit

Aug 23, 2013

Lawyers for a group of same-sex couples seeking to overturn Arkansas' ban on gay marriage want to drop the state's governor and attorney general from a lawsuit. 

Attorneys for the couples filed a notice of dismissal Thursday in Pulaski County Circuit Court. That notice says the plaintiffs dismiss Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel from the lawsuit. They're asking the court to issue an order making it official. 

Judge Won't Step Down in Arkansas Police Shooting Case

Aug 23, 2013

A judge says he won't step down from a case involving a former Little Rock police officer accused of killing a teenager.

Judge Wendell Griffen issued an order on Thursday denying a number of motions, including one to disqualify him in the case of former Little Rock police officer Josh Hastings.

Hastings' attorney, Bill James, filed a motion on Monday seeking to disqualify Griffen.

James said Griffen has been outspoken against Little Rock police officers and their use of firearms on minorities, and James says that's the issue in Hastings' case.

A former co-owner and a former employee of a closed Little Rock adoption agency have been ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution and penalties to former clients and the state of Arkansas.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says a Pulaski County judge on Tuesday ordered the payments by former Adoption Advantage owner Donna Gail Hight and ex-employee Jacklyn Potter.

They were convicted in April of deceptive trade practices after prosecutors said prospective adoptive parents paid thousands of dollars in upfront fees for adoptions that never took place.

Faulkner County Sheriff Andy Shock says he wanted his former election opponent to get a stiffer sentence for creating a false birth certificate.

On Friday, 47-year-old Harold Allen Smith of Greenbrier was sentenced to a month in federal prison followed by a year of supervised release.

The Log Cabin Democrat reports that Shock says he's content to accept the judge's decision but says he's "disappointed" in the sentence.

Smith was accused of faking a birth certificate to make it appear that Shock had fathered a child in Texas.

The Arkansas Secretary of State plans to appeal a Pulaski County judge’s ruling over the office’s use of private lawyers in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

On Monday, Judge Tim Fox disqualified the private attorneys Secretary of State Mark Martin hired for $200 an hour to represent him in a lawsuit filed by plaintiff Matt Campbell, an attorney and political blogger who says Martin did not comply with his requests for certain records.

The moral of this story is the moment when the jury says, “Guilty” is not a good time to lose track of the defendant.

Twenty-four year old Rolandis Chatmon already had three previous felony convictions and a record of bad behavior in prison.

So, when a Faulkner County Circuit Court jury came back with a guilty verdict on three new counts of aggravated armed robbery and one theft-of-property charge, he knew the penalty would be bad.

So, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports, he ran.

Judge Won't Delay Ex-Officer's Little Rock Trial

Jul 31, 2013

A judge in Pulaski County has refused a request from prosecutors to delay the upcoming manslaughter trial for a former Little Rock officer accused in the fatal shooting of a teenager.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued an order Tuesday denying the request for a delay in the retrial of ex-officer Josh Hastings.

Hastings is set to go on trial in September after a jury deadlocked in June. He's charged in the shooting death of 15-year-old Bobby Moore III.

Woman Sues Over Handcuffed Son's Death in Arkansas

Jul 29, 2013

The mother of a young man who police say fatally shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Lawyers for Chavis Carter's mother, Teresa Rudd, filed the lawsuit on Friday in in federal court in Jonesboro.

The lawsuit seeks damages for medical expenses and loss of life. It comes a year after Carter's death and names the city of Jonesboro, its police chief and two officers as defendants.

The Washington Post reports that Arkansas is one of 10 states where important legal fights are being waged over abortion rights. 

Last week, Attorneys for two Little Rock abortion providers asked a federal judge to strike down a new Arkansas law that bans most abortions 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

Ex-Little Rock Officer's Trial Scheduled To Start

Jul 15, 2013

Trial is scheduled to begin for a former Little Rock police officer charged with escorting what he thought was a shipment of marijuana across the city.

Randall Tremayn Robinson is to go on trial Monday in Little Rock. He has pleaded not guilty.

Robinson and his half brother former officer Mark Anthony Jones - allegedly drove marked patrol cars to escort vans that an undercover agent claimed were carrying marijuana that had arrived from California.

Woman In SAU Horse Theft To Be Tried For Rustling

Jul 15, 2013

A woman already serving a prison sentence in the theft of rodeo horses from Southern Arkansas University is to be tried in a separate cattle theft case.

Trial is to begin Monday in Little River County for Wendi Cox. She is accused of stealing 15 heifers worth more than $10,000 from an East Ogden Ranch.

Prosecutors say the animals were sold at an Idabel, Okla., stockyard. The Texarkana Gazette reports Prosecutor Bryan Chesshir offered Cox a plea bargain but she rejected the deal and asked for a bench trial.

Filing: Shoffner Plans To Plead Not Guilty

Jun 24, 2013
Martha Shoffner
Danny Johnston / AP Photo

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner says she plans to plead not guilty to charges she accepted cash payments from a bond broker to whom she steered state investments, but a federal judge says she can't skip a hearing to enter that plea. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe denied Shoffner's request to waive her appearance at an arraignment hearing scheduled for later this week. Volpe's order was dated Friday, but wasn't entered into the court system until Monday.

Shoffner and her attorney said in a filing with the court that she planned to plead not guilty.

Several Arkansas Inmates Seek To Have Appeal Dismissed

Jun 24, 2013

Several Arkansas death row inmates are seeking to have their appeal dismissed in a case involving the state's public records law.

Hung Jury In Case Of Ex-Little Rock Officer

Jun 24, 2013

A Pulaski County jury was unable to reach a verdict after 12 hours of deliberations in the manslaughter trial of a former Little Rock police officer.

The trial of former officer Josh Hastings ended Sunday afternoon with no verdict after jurors informed Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen they could not come to a unanimous decision.

Griffen had earlier encouraged the jury to reach a decision - saying the case would have to be decided by a jury eventually.

Jurors are learning about what led up to the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old burglary suspect by a Little Rock police officer who is defending himself against a manslaughter charge. 

The trial of Josh Hastings is to resume Thursday in Pulaski County Circuit Court. He is accused in the death last summer of Bobby Moore III.

Prosecutors on Wednesday put on the stand two juvenile boys who were with Moore when he was shot.

The boys' accounts conflict with what Hastings told investigators. Hastings said he fired because he felt the driver was trying to run over him.

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