The County's initial response to Camper's lawsuit, filed the following month, laid bare many sordid details about Camper's termination, including that Camper had once admitted to having sex with a former employee in the country morgue.
Burnett referred questions about the case to David Fuqua, the attorney who handled the case for the county. Fuqua said that he heard about the judge's order through the court's electronic system just before lunch today. "The court dismissed the federal claims and declined to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims," Fuqua said. "The court doesn't have to decide state law claims if it dismisses all the federal claims... He can't refile any claim that's been dismissed in the case, so in theory he can refile his state law claims."
Fuqua said that he could file a motion with the court to seek an order compelling Camper to pay the County's legal fees, but said he doesn't anticipate filing that motion.
According to a Pulaski County Sheriff's Department incident report, a group that had gathered outside the door of the court room began to "be loud and use obscene language about the person in the courtroom." When Hastings was coming out, the report says, a woman police identified as Starkeshia Perkins ran over and spit on Hastings. The report says she then kept yelling obscenities at Hastings as he walked away.
Perkins was taken into custody, and later brought before the court in 5th Division. She was told not to return during Hastings' trial, and a no-contact order was issued. She was then released to deputies, who charged her with 3rd degree assault and disorderly conduct, and she was transported to the Pulaski County Detention Center. Once there, it was also discovered that she had a misdemeanor failure to appear warrant relating to traffic issues.
Josh Hastings, the former Little Rock Police Department officer who was charged with manslaughter in January in the August 2012 shooting death of a 15-year-old boy during a burglary call at a West Little Rock apartment complex, plead not guilty to the charge today.
Hastings shot Bobby Moore as Moore and two other teens attempted to flee in a Honda Civic from the parking lot of the Shadow Lake Apartments complex at 13111 W. Markham, where Hastings had been dispatched to investigate a car burglary.
Though Hastings told investigators that he fired on the car because it was speeding toward him and he feared for his life, further investigation produced discrepancies between Hastings' account and the evidence. Hastings was arrested and charged in September 2012. From the affidavit for Hastings' arrest:
While it appears that the vehicle was driving toward Hastings at some point, all of the physical evidence is consistent with statements made by the occupants of the car, indicating that the car was stopped, or in reverse at the time Hastings fired, and not traveling toward him at a high rate of speed, as Hastings indicated in his statement.
Manslaughter is a class C felony. It can carry a sentence up to 10 years. Hastings' trial on the charge is set for June 18-20, with a pretrial hearing on May 20.
Full house tonight at the Clinton School for a panel discussion featuring "Devil's Knot" author Mara Leveritt and the West Memphis Three's Jason Baldwin, sponsored by the Arkansas Times. On the agenda: a discussion of Leveritt's recent cover story, which makes the case for putting cameras in every courtroom in Arkansas to document proceedings. Times editor Lindsey Millar served as moderator for the event.
Lots more details about tonight's event — and a Kleenex-worthy surprise ending — on the jump...
Police say they tied Lizana to the crime through a bloody palm print found on a bedroom door at the crime scene. Bobby "Chino" Galbraith, 40, and his two stepdaughters. 6-year-old Adiele Crutchfield and her sister Marley Crutchfield, 4, were found dead in their home by the children's mother. An infant daughter belonging to Galbraith was found unharmed in the house. Galbraith was a local tattoo artist. Police have still not suggested a motive as to why Lizana might have wanted to harm Galbraith and the children.
The Arkansas Supreme Court today upheld the state’s Freedom of Information law, overturning a lower court that had ruled part of the law unconstitutional. Good news for advocates of government transparency.
The decision overturns last year's ruling from Sebastian County Circuit Judge James Cox, which had found criminal penalties for FOI violations unconstitutional. The high court’s decision keeps Arkansas’s FOI law, adopted in 1967 and one of the oldest in the country, intact.
Randeep Mann, the Russellville doctor convicted of responsibility for a bomb that nearly killed Trent Pierce of West Memphis, the chairman of the state Medical Board, should be resentenced, a federal appeals court ruled today.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that Mann, who had been sentenced to life, shouldn't have received an enhanced sentence based on allegations he ordered the assault of an inmate. That detail, which never came up in Mann's trial, shouldn't have been referenced in a pre-sentencing report, the court said.
The court also said that Mann's two weapons convictions amounted to double jeopardy and ordered one of them tossed.
Yesterday the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGAFC) ended a four year court battle against the federal government, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in AGAFC’s favor. AGAFC claimed that for roughly seven years, temporary flooding of the Black River Wildlife Management Area, a 23,000-acre wildlife preserve, caused hardwood damage. The flooding was from a Missouri dam controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps argued that by releasing the water, it was acting in the common good, to provide relief to farmers, and it should not be forced to investigate the impact of this action on every downstream property-owner.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with an earlier federal court that had awarded AGAFC $5.8 million in damages, to cover lost timber and reforestation charges. Both the lower court and the Supreme Court decided the AGAFC is protected under the Fifth Amendment, which states that private property shouldn’t be taken for public use without just compensation. This judgment remanded the decision of a federal appeals court, which reversed the original ruling.
A surprise Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that could jeopardize 30 years of court battles and legislative wrangling and the legislature’s path to Medicaid expansion and how new projections from DHS might play a role — covered on this week's podcast. Plus endorsements of fresh eggs and John Jeremiah Sullivan's "Pulphead."
Subscribe via iTunes.
Before gathering in Little Rock this afternoon for a two-day summit on improving education, educational organizations released a statement condemning the Arkansas Supreme Court's ruling in Kimbrell v. McClesky, which throws equitable education in Arkansas into doubt.
Notably, Donna Morey, president of the Arkansas Education Association, indicated that her group would be lobbying the legislature to follow the majority's suggestion to expressly provide a mechanism for redistributing excess funds. Gov. Beebe and others have suggested that such tinkering would set a bad precedent and invite further court challenges, which might undo years of work on equity and adequacy.
“The Arkansas Education Association believes in Great Public Schools for All Students. The decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court, Nov. 29, 2012, affects public school funding significantly. The AEA believes that the decision does not reflect the intent of the Arkansas General Assembly concerning adequacy and equity for all the students in Arkansas' public schools.”
“It will be necessary for the legislature to modify the statutes to clearly define the funding structures for schools, and the AEA will be an active partner in changing the appropriate laws.”
More statements from participants in this weekend's Opportunity to Learn Campaign on the jump.
The immediate effect of the ruling is that two school districts — Eureka Springs and Fountain Lake — don't have to turn monies collected through property taxes above the state minimum over to the state to be redistributed. The broader consequence is likely that no districts will be required to turn over their excess funds to the state,
which means that richer districts will have more money per student than poorer districts, unless the legislature steps in next year to make up the gap. UPDATE: I clarified this below.
You can get a feel for what a big deal this is by Chief Justice Jim Hannah's dissent.
“The majority nullifies ten years of difficult and painstaking work diligently undertaken by the General Assembly, the Department of Education, the Attorney General, and the Governor, to provide this state with a constitutional school-funding system. The state’s carefully crafted constitutional system of state-funded public education is obliterated by the majority’s decision.”
UPDATE: The Beebe administration and the attorney general plan to petition the Arkansas Supreme Court to rehear the case, which is the only judicial recourse they have, according to Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Beebe.
The decision is all about precedent, lawmakers and policy experts who I've talked to this afternoon said. At issue is the intersection of Arkansas Amendment 74, passed by voters in 1996, which requires school districts to levy a uniform rate of tax of 25 mills to be used towards the maintenance and operation of schools, and the General Assembly's statutory creation of the idea of foundation funding that's required to fund a "general, suitable, and efficient system of free public schools." Foundation funding is a reaction to the second Lake View court case and came into being in 2009.
Every year, the legislature determines a new foundation-funding amount per student. The latest figure is $6,267 (it was $6,023 when this lawsuit was filed in the 2010-2011 school year). If a school district's 25 mills don't add up to $6,023 — if say, in a poorer district with mostly low property values, 25 mills only adds up to $3,000 per student — the state will make up the difference. What today's Supreme Court decision undoes is the converse of the previous example: When a district's 25 mills add up to more than foundation-funding — say 25 mills from a district with high property values means $9,000 per pupil — the state has been redistributing the money to other districts. It and General Revenue have made up foundation-funding shortfalls in districts with lower property values.
I haven't gotten a clear estimate of what the immediate financial impact of decision is, but it certainly won't mean the governor needs to resubmit his education budget, according to DeCample. What the dissenting justices, Beebe and others are worried about is that the decision has the potential to undue 15 years of grueling work on equity during Lake View I and Lakeview II. If schools with higher property tax can keep their 25 mills revenue above foundation-funding levels, that would create inequity, they argue.
A complicating factor, at least in my mind, is that Amendment 74 sets 25 mills as a baseline. Districts can levy more millage. Some wealthy districts tax as many as 37 mills. The disparity between those districts and poorer ones grows smaller once poorer districts receive National School Lunch Act funds, but it's still an issue. In fact, many have predicted that a lawsuit over inequity could be on the horizon even before this ruling.
The other issue that particularly troubles the Beebe administration, according to DeCample, is this passage from the majority opinion:
"Should the General Assembly wish to provide a mechanism or procedure by which excess funds may be distributed to other districts, it is certainly within its purview to do so—no time machine required."
The governor's worried about that the prospect of statutorily remedying a constitutional amendment puts in place a precedent that some future administration or legislature might seize upon to undo Amendment 74's key role in equity funding.
Shew. Got all that?
Here's a link to Andrew DeMillo's reporting with the AP, which quotes Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell saying:
"It's the foundation on which we've based so many decisions over the last 10 to 12 years on how we fund education, what we expect our schools to do, what we expect of our General Assembly. There have been so many things done based upon this premise. It surprises me and I think it just changes the game."
A legislative audit last month raised questions about 15 Arkansas Supreme Court jobs that are paid for with attorney license fees instead of being authorized by the General Assembly via the state budget process, as required by the state Constitution. At a legislative budget hearing last week, Supreme Court Justice Jim Hannah avoided commenting on the audit in depth, but implied that the practice was authorized by a decades-old amendment to the Constitution and upheld by a prior Supreme Court decision. He called the audit’s raising of the issue “unusual.” Frank Arey, attorney for the Division of Legislative Audit, has suggested that a lawsuit might eventually resolve the dispute. Of course, who would likely decide that suit? The Arkansas Supreme Court.
In any case, it sounds like the legislature will act to clear things up before it gets to that.
After the meeting, Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, who will be co-chairman of the Joint Budget Committee during the next session, said he expects some legislative action to be taken.
“I am fine with them spending the money and I don’t want to mess with the program, but I think that it’s a legislative issue,” Teague said. “I think that the Legislature ought to appropriate the dollars and I would assume if nobody else tries to do that then I would do that in the next session.”
Sen. Johnny Key,R-Mountain Home, agreed, saying the state Supreme Court’s budget could be amended to add the 15 additional employees and legislation could be passed allowing the attorney licensing fees to be used for salaries.
“In our discussion it sounded a whole lot more complicated than that and there was talk of lawsuits and everything,” Key said. “I do think it is something we need to have a thorough conversation about amongst our members.”
Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council Action Committee, said the measure has "little to do with compassionate care" and should be removed from the ballot.
"This ballot proposal is one hundred percent illegal under federal law," Cox said. "Marijuana is illegal because of federal statute passed by Congress. Only the federal government can change that. The Arkansas Constitution and the United States Constitution both prevent Arkansas from passing laws that blatantly defy federal law."
The Washington County Prosecutor's office has filed misdemeanor charges against two West Fork city officials accused of violating the state Freedom of Information law. Charged were West Fork Treasurer Kristie Drymon (who also serves as the West Fork City Water Department office manager and acting City Clerk), and Wastewater Utilities Commission chairman Virgil Blackmon.
They are accused of failing to alert the media and public about a West Fork Water Commission meeting on Jan. 11, at which the commission reportedly discussed who might fill a vacant seat. According to the Washington County Observer, after the meeting was held, Chairman Blackmon told the paper that he didn't feel "comfortable" revealing the candidates discussed at the ostensibly public meeting.
Drymon and Blackmon will be arraigned on April 17 in Prairie Grove. Each faces up to 30 days in jail or a $500 fine.
The morning's NY Times popped up a puff piece about Huckabee weighing another presidential run…
Think of the children! Our precious precious children! Oh wait....none of these tie-wearing goons ever…
The best goddamned ledge committee free tickets and parking and . . .can buy. We're…
A&E Feature / To-Do List / In Brief / Movie Reviews / Music Reviews / Theater Reviews / A&E News / Art Notes / Graham Gordy / Books / Media / Dining Reviews / Dining Guide / What's Cookin' / Calendar / The Televisionist / Movie Listings / Gallery Listings