Arkansas Supreme Court

Arkansas political observers may be cross-eyed by the time all of the legal machinations between optometrists and ophthalmologists are settled.

On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing of a ruling that allowed Safe Surgery Arkansas to proceed with its efforts to gain ballot access for its proposal to reverse Act 579. That law was passed in the 2019 regular session and expanded optometrists’ scopes of practice, allowing them to perform certain eye procedures that have traditionally been limited to ophthalmologists.

Karl Roberts
Arkansas Department of Correction

An Arkansas death row inmate convicted of killing a state lawmaker's daughter is arguing he should not be executed because he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments over Karl Roberts' appeal of his conviction and death sentence in the 1999 killing of 12-year-old niece,

Andi Brewer. An attorney for Roberts told the Arkansas justices that the inmate's schizophrenia made him unable to effectively assist defense attorneys during his 2000 trial because he believed that jailers were secretly recording him.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Secretary of State John Thurston’s office must count signatures collected by a group wanting to repeal a state law regarding optometrists’ scope of practice.

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

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the state attorney general's request to prohibit a judge who demonstrated against the death penalty from handling any cases involving her office.

In a 4-3 decision, justices rejected the request by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to remove the cases from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's court. The court did not elaborate on how it reached its decision in a one-page order.

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

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't reconsider a request by a judge who demonstrated against the death penalty to resume hearing execution cases.

Justices on Thursday denied Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's request that the court take another look at its Sept. 19 ruling that the judge is still barred from handling execution cases. Griffen was disqualified from execution cases in April 2017 after he was photographed at a demonstration the same day he blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug.

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News / KUAR

The Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday heard arguments over whether a state law can retroactively uphold a contractual waiver of a jury trial in a specific civil court lawsuit.

The validity of the contractual jury-waiver clause in this specific case was the center of the oral argument. However, the implications of a potential overreach from the legislative branch overruling a decision of the state Supreme Court were also discussed.

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News

Whether to analyze previously untested evidence found during a murder investigation over 20 years ago was the main argument during the Arkansas Supreme Court’s first oral argument of the 2019 fall term.

Speaking Thursday in the Old Supreme Court Chamber at the Arkansas Capitol, Olga Akselrod, an attorney for appellant Stacey Johnson argued evidence that was not tested at the time of the investigation, which ultimately convicted Johnson, should now be tested, given the advancement of technology that would allow for such analysis.

Arkansas Supreme Court
courts.arkansas.gov

A Pulaski County circuit judge has petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court to restore his power to hear and decide civil and criminal cases concerning the death penalty, capital punishment and the method of execution.

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.

 Justice Courtney Goodson Judicial Crisis Network.
Arkansas Times / You Tube

An Arkansas court is dismissing a television station's appeal of an order that prohibited it from airing a conservative group's attack ad against a state Supreme Court justice during her re-election bid.

The Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed the appeal by Tegna, Inc., which challenged the ruling preventing several television stations from airing the Judicial Crisis Network's ad targeting Justice Courtney Goodson last spring. Goodson won re-election in November.

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

Attorneys for an Arkansas judge say they're asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the judge's complaints against members of the state Supreme Court.

Attorney Mike Laux says the petition was filed Friday on behalf of Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen. It comes after previous complaints were dismissed by a district judge, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and a judicial oversight commission.

Laux said he's confident the high court will take the case because he believes the appeals court "got it wrong."

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Supreme Court has struck down a law that gives the state's prison director authority to determine whether an inmate is mentally competent to be put to death, siding with two convicted murderers who were spared from execution last year.

Justices ruled Thursday that the competency law violated due process rights guaranteed in the Arkansas and U.S. Constitutions. Convicted murderers Bruce Ward and Jack Greene were granted stays last year so the court could hear their case. Ward was one of eight inmates whom Arkansas planned to execute in April 2017.

An Arkansas Supreme Court justice says she voted against a pay raise request cited in an outside group's attack mailer that she's trying to get a federal judge to halt.

Justice Courtney Goodson testified Wednesday that she was one of two justices who voted privately against the $18,000 raise the court's chief justice requested from a panel that sets officials' salaries. The panel rejected the request and instead raised justices' pay 2 percent, giving her a $3,330 raise.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas' governor has named seven special justices to hear an effort by members of the state Supreme Court to halt ethics charges they face for their decision to prevent a judge who participated in a death penalty demonstration from handling any execution-related cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed seven people Thursday to fill in for the justices, who have filed a lawsuit challenging a disciplinary panel's decision to charge them with ethics violations.

Arkansas House
www.arkleg.state.ar.us

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered election officials to not count votes cast for a ballot measure that would have imposed the strictest term limits in the country on state legislators.

Justices on Friday disqualified the proposed initiative, ruling that thousands of signatures submitted by supporters were invalid and should not have been counted. The court, however, did not rule on part of the lawsuit challenging the wording of the proposed amendment.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Voters will not get to weigh in on a proposed amendment to limit lawsuit damages but will vote on raising the state’s minimum wage after the Arkansas Supreme Court released two decisions Thursday.

The decisions came a week after the court ruled in favor of keeping on the ballot Issue 4, which will allow voters to decide on the fate of casinos in four locations. Still to come is a decision on an amendment that would limit legislative terms.

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

Five Arkansas Supreme Court justices are challenging efforts to sanction them over the court's decision to disqualify a judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration from hearing any execution-related cases.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas voters will be able to consider a casino amendment during next month's election, the state highest court ruled Thursday. The Arkansas Supreme Court also ruled in favor of the constitutionality of a voter ID law passed by the Legislature last year.

In one casino case brought by Ensuring Arkansas’ Future, the petitioners raised 27 challenges to Issue 4, which would allow casino operations at Oaklawn and Southland and also at sites in Pope County and Jefferson County.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The United State Supreme Court opens its new session the first Monday in October. Monday, the current dean of the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, Theresa Beiner, and one of its former deans, John DiPippa, shared their predictions for which cases the court will agree to hear at a public lecture in Little Rock.

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 Arkansas judge who was banned from hearing execution cases after participating in an anti-death penalty demonstration is seeking the removal of an attorney investigating his ethics complaint against the state Supreme Court.

Arkansas Supreme Court Lee Rudofsky
courts.arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Supreme Court has cleared the way for the state to launch its medical marijuana program.

Justices on Thursday reversed and dismissed a judge's ruling that prevented officials from issuing the first licenses for businesses to grow the drug.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled in March that the state's process for awarding medical marijuana cultivation licenses was unconstitutional.

He said the process violated constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2016 that legalized marijuana for patients with certain conditions.

Arkansas Supreme Court Lee Rudofsky
courts.arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday in a challenge by the state to a circuit judge’s order that halted the issuing of medical marijuana cultivation licenses. It was also revealed that investigators are looking into allegations that a bribe was offered by one company to a member of the Medical Marijuana Commission.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled in March that the process for how the commission decided which companies would get five licenses was constitutionally flawed.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas' attorney general has approved the wording for ballot measures that would raise the minimum wage, legalize casinos and change the redistricting process. That's after the state Supreme Court ordered her to certify the wage-hike proposal.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge certified the measures on Wednesday, hours after justices gave her three days to approve or substitute language for a proposed initiated act to gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022. The sponsor of the measure sued after Rutledge had previously rejected its wording.

Justice Courtney Goodson and Department of Human Services Chief Counsel David Sterling are headed for a runoff in the Arkansas Supreme Court race, while Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston was leading in the secretary of state’s race.

Late Tuesday, Goodson led the three-person race with 37.28% of the vote. Sterling was second with 33.82%. Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Hixson trailed with 28.9%.

Because no candidate reached 50%, Goodson and Sterling will face each other in a runoff as part of the general election Nov. 6.

An Arkansas judge has postponed a hearing on a state Supreme Court justice's third lawsuit aimed at halting a conservative group's TV ad attacking her during her re-election bid.

An Arkansas Supreme Court justice is asking a judge to prevent several television stations from airing a conservative group's ads targeting her during her re-election bid.

Justice Courtney Goodson filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court Monday seeking an order to block the ads run by the Judicial Crisis Network. The Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks judicial spending, says the Washington-based group has spent more than $519,000 on television ads.

A Washington-based group is preparing to launch television ads targeting Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson in her re-election bid, two years after it spent more than $600,000 on spots aimed at Goodson during her unsuccessful campaign to lead the high court.

Filings with the Federal Communications Commission indicate that the Judicial Crisis Network has spent more than $96,000 to air ads in the Little Rock and northwest Arkansas areas over the next week. A filing from one station says the ads focused on criticism of Goodson.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas officials are appealing a judge's order blocking the state from enforcing a voter ID law nearly identical to a measure struck down as unconstitutional four years ago.

Arkansas's highest court has rejected an effort to force the state's attorney general to approve the wording of a ballot measure that would legalize casinos in four counties.

The state Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition by Driving Arkansas Forward, the group trying to put the casinos legalization measure on the ballot in November.

Leslie Rutledge
Governor's Office

A group seeking a public vote on expanded gambling in Arkansas is asking the state Supreme Court to force Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to approve and certify the ballot title.

The group Driving Arkansas Forward filed a petition Tuesday with the state's high court.

Driving Arkansas Forward is trying to put a proposal on the November ballot to legalize casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties, as well as at the Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs and at the Southland greyhound track in West Memphis.

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