Outside money continues to pour into judicial races. Today, the Republican State Leadership Committee launched a $250,000 ad buy attacking Supreme Court candidate Clark Mason, who is running against reactionary conservative Shawn Womack.
The ad will run for the next week, with the election set for Tuesday. The RSLC is very committed to referring to Mason as Clark "Ka-Ching" Mason, a nickname that has not gone viral to date. From their press release:
“Clark ‘Ka-Ching’ Mason is the wrong choice for the Arkansas Supreme Court,” said RSLC President Matt Walter. “As a liberal trial lawyer, he made a practice out of profiting off of his injured and suffering clients. According to his own website, he could collect up to 50 percent from a case judgement! The state Supreme Court needs judges prepared to serve the people of Arkansas, not profit off of them.”
The ad's premise is rather remarkable. Basically, they break the shocking news that Mason, a trial lawyer who has done personal injury cases, makes money when he wins those cases. Meanwhile, Mason's opponent, Womack, has a long history of carrying the tort reform agenda for big businesses in Arkansas, trying to limit the ability for plaintiffs to seek damages in court. The ad says that Mason "profits from your pain and suffering." But the reason that Womack has the support of RSLC is precisely because he has devoted his political career to making sure big businesses never have to pay you damages if they cause you pain and suffering.
He has been especially aggressive about carrying water for the nursing home lobby on this front. So if you're mistreated in a nursing home, you might seek damages in court. Win your case and the nursing home will have to compensate you for the harm done. Yes, it's true that a portion of that money will go to the attorney that helped you win your case. But Womack's aim is to try to keep you from being entitled to damages at all. He wants to keep that money in the pockets of big businesses that do harm. Ka-ching.
The RSLC has previously attacked Mason with mailers that say he's, like, Obama-ish.
The RSLC describes itself as "the largest caucus of Republican state leaders in the country and the only national organization whose mission is to elect Republicans to multiple down-ballot, state-level offices" — so I know we're all excited to see them getting involved in judicial elections.
Later today: A news conference related to Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, removed from a lawsuit over execution drugs and referred to a judicial disciplinary committee for taking part in a death penalty protest on the day he entered an order in the drug case. /more/
In an order not received until after 11:30 p.m., the U.S. Supreme Court denied Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's application to vacate a stay imposed by the Arkansas Supreme Court on the execution of Don Davis. A warrant for Davis' execution had been issued for today. It was to expire at midnight. In preparation for the Court's ruling, the state had moved witnesses into the execution viewing room. /more/
The attorney general's office today asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to set aside Judge Wendell Griffen's temporary order against the use of a paralytic drug in state executions, an order that would have effectively stopped the killings. A federal judge's order later halted all executions for constitutional reasons. /more/
The Arkansas Supreme Court refused one Death Row inmate's procedural petition and granted two others in decisions released today. None altered the schedule of seven executions set to begin Monday. /more/
The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a batch of orders today related to appeals from Death Row inmates. They included cursory denials of stays of execution for Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson, both scheduled to die April 20. /more/
Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled today that he had no choice based on a past Arkansas Supreme Court decision but to dismiss a lawsuit by Death Row inmates seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection process.But the judge did so unhappily with sharp criticism of the Arkansas Supreme Court for failing to address critical points raised in the lawsuit. /more/
According to Tucker, Arkansas may be the only state in the nation that permits such coordination between candidates and independent groups. However, after the committee heard testimony from a representative of such an independent group, Americans for Prosperity, the bill failed on a voice vote. /more/
Arkansas Business reports here on a federal court filing Wednesday that shows a second person has pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme to help a major contractor of the state Department of Human Services.
The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.
Ernest Dumas reaches into history, some personal, for moments in Arkansas's view of refugees. It was brought to mind by the current crisis in Europe and the political divisions over whether the U.S. should respond to the needs of the displaced.
Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
Baker Kurrus has written a monumental essay explaining why he opposes the proposal in the May 9 special , the Little Rock lawyer and businessman who long served on the Little Rock School Board and spent a year as its superintendent after the state takeover before being fired by Education Commissioner
What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas. He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
Photos taken Thursday night by Brian Chilson and David Koon, at Cummins Prison in Grady, the State Police barricade away from the prison and in front of the Governor's Mansion, before and after the execution of Ledell Lee.