FOI in court today; D-G publisher to be subpoenaed | Arkansas Blog

Monday, September 21, 2015

FOI in court today; D-G publisher to be subpoenaed

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 8:58 AM

FOR THE DEFENSE: Marion Humphrey challenges newspaper.
  • FOR THE DEFENSE: Marion Humphrey challenges newspaper.
I went to church Sunday at Allison Memorial Presbyterian, where former Circuit Judge Marion Humphrey is pastor, and picked up a little information before the service about action today in circuit court, where Humphrey is defense lawyer for Rodney Forte, director of the Metropolitan Housing Alliance.

Forte is appealing to circuit court a district court conviction that he violated the state Freedom of Information Act in responding to a records request from a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Judge Alice Lightle fined him $100 and $140 in costs on the misdemeanor charge, rarely prosecuted criminally in Arkansas.

The newspaper requested personnel and work order records from the agency, which oversees federally subsidized housing projects and programs. It filed a complaint after the agency said it would cost $16,000 to fulfill the complaint. Prosecutor Larry Jegley characterized that as "over the top" and Judge Lightle agreed that, while the request was burdensome, the law required full compliance.

A hearing on motions is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. today in Judge Herb Wright's court. Humphrey has announced plans to subpoena (he hasn't actually issued subpoenas yet as I wrote originally) a list of character witnesses including former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey of Pine Bluff; other businessmen, including Bill Jones of Sissy's Log Cabin, and former UAPB Chancellor Lawrence Davis. He also plans to call Walter Hussman, publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Humphrey told me that a personal attorney for Hussman was attempting to have the publisher's subpoena quashed. Humphrey wants to ask Hussman about the ability of the state's largest media empire to pay the copying charges. The question of what's a reasonable request for a vast amount of documents will be important to his defense. He also wants to question prosecutors who talked with an employee of the city attorney's office about the agency's attempt to get clarification about records sought before the case was prosecuted. Humphrey also says he will introduce the 35,000 documents he says were covered by the newspaper's request.

No decisions were made at today's hearings on future subpoenas, but the judge said he might have to hold another hearing relative to Humphrey's desire to talk to prosecutors. Humphrey is also producing support for his contention that prosecutions are unheard of in Arkansas and, in one case in Fayetteville, was unsuccessful when a document request made of the University of Arkansas was too broad.

Speaking of church: Humphrey preached Sunday on being a servant, his lesson drawn from the Gospel according to Mark. He who wants to be first shall be last and servant of all. Humphrey used the sermon to take off briefly into current affairs — the state takeover of the Little Rock School District. He's  a lawyer for those seeking a return of a democratically elected school. The metaphorical tie was the limitless desire for money and power by some. It was a reference to the heirs of the Walton fortune that has played so heavily in school district affairs. For some, the suggestion seemed to be, the first shall always be first.

NOTE: This item has been edited and includes some additions from the original version posted this morning.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Medical marijuana backers: Health Department opposition 'disingenuous' and 'cruel'

    Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group behind the first medical marijuana initiative to qualify for the ballot, has responded sharply to yesterday's statement by the Arkansas Health Department that it opposes legal medical use of marijuana.
    • Jul 13, 2016
  • Satanic Temple: Make Rapert pay for Ten Commandments monument

    A petition drive has begun to encourage a demand that Sen. Jason Rapert pay for the legal fees in defending his Ten Commandments monument proposed for the state Capitol grounds. It's more work by the Satanic Temple, which has fought church-state entanglement around the country.
    • Aug 28, 2016
  • A response to police arrests becomes a tutorial on race, class and policing in Little Rock

    John Walker, the 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, and his associate, Omavi Shukur, 29, a young lawyer devoted to criminal justice reform, talked to press this afternoon about their arrests Monday by Little Rock police for supposedly obstructing governmental operations in observing and attempting to film a routine police traffic stop. It was a tutorial on sharp views of race, class and governance in Little Rock.
    • Sep 29, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation