Court split on robbery case | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Court split on robbery case

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 3:44 PM

The state Supreme Court today upheld, on a 4-3 vote, a Pulaski County robbery conviction of Hutson Burks despite unanimous agreement that the prosecutor's office used testimony obtained improperly by promise of  reduction of a sentence already in effect for the critical witness. It sharply criticized the prosecuting attorney's office, which struck the deal, and Judge Barry Sims for allowing it. The court referred the witness' attorney, the prosecutor's office and the trial judge to disciplinary bodies for review.

The majority decided, however, that the defendant still received a fair trial because the witness was cross-examined about her motivation for testimony and the improperly struck deal came after the testimony. This was the same finding made in an earlier decision by the state Court of Appeals, which also sharply criticized the judge and prosecutor.

A sharp dissent from Justice Elana Wills, joined by Chief Justice Jim Hannah and Donald Corbin, saw it differently. They would have reversed. Hannah wrote:

While I agree that referring counsel to the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct and the circuit judge to the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission is proper to address misconduct by those referred, the referrals do nothing to address the possible injury to the public trust and confidence in the impartiality and the integrity of the judiciary. Having been apprised of this apparent abuse, we may not simply refer the actors to our Committee and Commission and imagine we have done our job. We must take action to preserve the integrity of the judiciary where it appears that the law has been violated and a void order has been entered.

Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley said, "We screwed up." He indicated his office would review the case further.

Here's previous news coverage. And here is today's Supreme Court opinion.

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016
  • Two plead in fraud of sheriff's office

    A former employee of the Pulaski County sheriff and a North Little Rock woman who sold goods to the sheriff's office have pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a scheme to steal from the sheriff's office, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
    • May 16, 2017
  • In Little Rock, Marco Rubio sells American exceptionalism

    This is Rubio's axiomatic answer to Donald Trump's insistence that he and he alone will Make America Great Again: America is the greatest, always has been.
    • Feb 22, 2016

Most Shared

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation