Judge Miller gives up Pulaski school case | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 24, 2011

Judge Miller gives up Pulaski school case

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 7:17 PM

GONE: Judge Brian Miller dumped deseg case.
  • KUAR
  • GONE: Judge Brian Miller dumped deseg case.
Federal District Judge Brian Miller, who made the unexpected and since-stayed ruling to halt state desegregation payments to Pulaski County school districts, has disqualified himself from hearing the case. He says he has strong feelings about the situation in the Helena-West Helena School District, his hometown. He didn't reveal those specific feelings, but noted the Helena district and the Pulaski County Special School District, a party in the desegregation case, were recently put into state trusteeship, with superintendents and school boards removed.

The case falls now to federal Judge Price Marshall of Jonesboro. He's at least the fifth federal judge to preside over the case, which dates to the mid-1980s in terms of the Little Rock School District's suit against the state for promoting segregation here. But its roots go back to the 1950s.

Judge Miller's departure isn't cause for tears. His decision to end state funding in Pulaski County came without notice. It wasn't argued or briefed. It was cheered only by demagogue Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and legislators slavering after the money for themselves.

Miller, a black man, clearly had strong beliefs about the benefits of state spending on education of black children. It hasn't achieved learning equality, true — in Pulaski County or anywhere else. That doesn't prove that the spending was without benefit, however. He also showed little interest in the damage he'd do to PROVEN desegregation programs — magnet schools and transfer programs that send white children into neighborhoods such as College Station for superior education. He seemed to care little at the disruption in lives caused by his order weeks before a new school year to turn education on its ear here. Cooler heads at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals put an end to that, fortunately, by staying his ruling. Cooler heads still should negotiate an end to this, but if we look to McDaniel for coolness, we waste our effort.

We can only guess what Miller might think about Helena, a dysfunctional city if there ever was, where his family has long been politically powerful. That power won him a court seat courtesy of Sen. Blanche Lincoln during a Republican administration (much to the chagrin of Republicans). Is he unhappy that the state tossed school leadership that couldn't even produce a high school class schedule for the next school year? Is he unhappy about the state tossing leadership that was rapidly spending the district into a deficit, with impenetrable bookkeeping? Maybe he thought taking over Helena allowed the Pulaski takeover. Or maybe he was happy about the Helena takeover. He didn't say. But he was a judge whose beliefs on school issues were too close to the surface. He should be gone on that account alone. He's decided to take his leave. Good for him. Good riddance, too, based on his jurisprudence so far. Will Judge Marshall rehear the show-cause petitions in which Miller wanted to end interdistrict transfer funding as well as all other desegregation aid? Much court action is to come.

Here's how the judge put his decision to recuse:

On Monday, June 20, 2011, the State of Arkansas, acting through the Arkansas Department of Education, dissolved the boards of education for separate defendant Pulaski County Special School District and the Helena-West Helena School District, and removed the superintendents of both districts. In that the undersigned has significant knowledge of the situation in Helena-West Helena and has deeply held personal opinions as to the reasons for and timing of the takeover of the Helena-West Helena School District, the undersigned would find it difficult to render decisions unaffected by his personal opinions. For this reason a conflict is created and recusal is necessary.

UPDATE: A Helena friend provides some background. Miller's brother, Kyle, was on the School Board, and among those removed. The judge is described as a friend of the removed Helena superintendent. What does that have to do with the Pulaski County case? Well, if he thinks Helena was unfairly treated, does it make it harder for him to view Pulaski in such a harsh light as he has done?

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (12)

Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Police still withholding identification on three dead in Birchwood

    Police still have not release details about the apparent slaying Sunday of two children and suicide of the man who killed them on Birchwood Drive in West Little Rock. But the court record of a man who gave the address of the home where the dead were found indicates past episodes of domestic violence.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    Confederate statuary was removed overnight from a prominent spot on the University of Texas campus because they symbolize white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the university president said.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    I was amused by the excitement of a NASA scientist over today's eclipse, as reported by CNN.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Viewed

  • Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    I was amused by the excitement of a NASA scientist over today's eclipse, as reported by CNN.
  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    • Who knows, the eclipse today might even overshadow Confederate statues in the 24-hour news cycle.

    • on August 21, 2017
  • Re: Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    • Jake: Great musical choices! Wide range of decades and genres. Very cool!

    • on August 21, 2017
  • Re: University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    • UT. Texas! Holy $h!y. Credit where it's due - that is leadership. Wish we had…

    • on August 21, 2017



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