Wednesday, September 9, 2015

FOI lawsuit filed for State Police firing records on ABC enforcement boss Boyce Hamlet

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 9:59 AM

BOYCE HAMLET: Why was current ABC enforcement chief fired from previous law job? FOIA suit seeks to find out.
  • BOYCE HAMLET: Why was current ABC enforcement chief fired from previous law job? FOIA suit seeks to find out.
UPDATE: Russell Racop has filed, as promised, his lawsuit over the State Police's refusal — under guidance from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge — to release records that provide information that led to the firing of current Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet as a state trooper.

Hamlet was fired in 2000 as a recruit for lying. He subsequently obtained other jobs in law enforcement, including his current political patronage appointment by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson as head of the police agency that enforces alcohol laws. Racop, who publishes a blog devoted to happenings in ABC, has contended and restates in his lawsuit that Hamlet has not accurately reported his work history in subsequent jobs. He points particularly to his work as an investigator for Republican Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland of Conway, where defense lawyers might have had reason to question Hamlet's credibility in cases in which he participated.

The State Police were prepared to release Hamlet's file, but he appealed to Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who issued a brief opinion that she saw no compelling public interest in disclosure of records that constituted the basis for Hamlet's firing, though such records may be released under the FOI.

Racop, who represents himself, argues that the Freedom of Information Act has been construed liberally so as to allow full reporting on public officials and that it is "antithetical" to hide behind the lack of a current controversy to deny a request.

Hamlet's former position as a state trooper in which he admittedly cheated, lied and breached the public trust and in his current position as ABC Enforcement Director under the cloud of his demonstrated lack of integrity, honesty and credibility supports that the public has a compelling interest in knowing of such behavior.

Hamlet has repeatedly refused to respond to requests for responses to Racop's complaints.

Under the law, a speedy hearing must be held on Racop's appeal.

Here's Racop's lawsuit.
UPDATE: Racop informs me that the state Ethics Commission has scheduled a hearing on his complaint of ethical violations by a former ABC deputy director, Rick Crisman, had taken for his use out-of-state driver licenses turned in by people who'd moved to Arkansas. He resigned after Racop raised questions. Racop delved further into activites by Crisman, a former Fayetteville cop, in this post.

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