Uncivil case 

Uncivil case

A civil court fight over a family trust turned into a criminal case in January when Janet Lea Hundley, 52, of Little Rock and San Marco, Fla., was arrested for assaulting her stepdaughter with a hammer.

Heather Hundley Beitzel, 30, of Austin told police she found her stepmother in her carport when Beitzel pulled in the morning of Jan. 14 after dropping a child off at school. Beitzel said Hundley, dressed in black and wearing one leather glove and one surgical glove, shouted at her, telling her she was making Hundley's life miserable, and began hitting Beitzel on the head with a hammer. Beitzel's 18-month-old daughter was in the car at the time of the attack; Beitzel said she managed to lock the child in the car and escape into the house, where she called 911 and a neighbor. The neighbor, who was armed, held Hundley until police arrived. Beitzel was taken to a hospital where she was treated for deep lacerations to her scalp, concussion and scrapes on her arms and back.

Hundley was jailed in Travis County on charges of aggravated assault. She was released on a cash bond Jan. 20.

Beitzel filed suit against her father, Janet Hundley's husband, John Marshall Hundley, in December 2008 over his handling of family trusts set up by the late Dr. John Hundley, Beitzel's grandfather, in which she has an interest. John Hundley was enjoined from transferring or otherwise disposing of the assets of the trusts by Pulaski Circuit Judge Collins Kilgore on Jan. 29. A trial date has not been set in the case.


Tangled Up

As natural gas exploration in the Fayetteville Shale continues and expands, legislators with ties to the industry will have to decide whether or not they have a conflict of interest. Rep. Lance Reynolds, D-Quitman, has made up his mind.

Last week, the House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development voted down a bill introduced by Rep. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, that would have limited the ability of a pipeline company to claim eminent domain in order to build their own private lines, called gathering lines. According to Dismang, Arkansas Midstream, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, has used the power of eminent domain as a first option when negotiating with landowners in the state.

Reynolds, a mineral rights owner who receives royalty checks from Chesapeake and other gas companies, voted against the bill. 

Chesapeake lobbied against the proposed act, sending out robo-calls and rallying royalty owners to speak on their behalf. Attorneys and spokesmen for the company also showed up at the hearing to defend their practices.

Reynolds says he sees no conflict of interest.

“I could have not voted, but I didn't think that was very good either. Abstaining is just like a ‘no' vote. By the same token, I represent a whole lot of royalty owners that called me wanting me to vote no,” Reynolds says.

“I know I get royalty payments but I also know that I represent 27,000 constituents and not all of them have that. So there's got to be a happy medium.”

Reynolds said the courts should decide the matter. A circuit court ruling in favor of Arkansas Midstream will soon be appealed in the state Supreme Court.

Another representative on that committee, Rep. Monty Betts, D-Searcy, also receives royalty payments from Chesapeake. Betts voted for the bill, citing individual property rights as his key concern.




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