At a press conference this morning at the State Capitol, Governor Asa Hutchinson said that there would be no need for an independent review of last night's execution of death row inmate Kenneth Williams or even a written report, calling such an investigation "totally unjustified" even though witnesses said that as the deadly drugs were administered, Williams convulsed for ten seconds and coughed and made other noises loud enough to be heard through the plate glass separating the execution chamber and the witness room.
At a press conference today at the Doubletree Hotel just across from the Pulaski County Courthouse, Pulaski County Fifth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and his attorneys announced that he has asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to investigate the conduct of the entire Arkansas Supreme Court, and asked the director of the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several others in the AG's office, related to what Griffen and his attorneys claim were forbidden ex parte conversations between the Supreme Court and the AG's office.
David Sachar with the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced today that a letter of admonishment has been issued to Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge William "Bill" Pearson, who blew through a DWI checkpoint near Clarksville in January before leading police on a short pursuit until a State Trooper disabled his truck by running into it.
Given that we've been trying to execute eight men in recent weeks, with several of their cases hinging on forensic evidence collected after the crime, you might want to read this story from Mother Jones on the fallibility of forensic science, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to disband a panel of lawyers, scientists, judges, crime lab technicians, law enforcement officers, and academics who meet quarterly with the goal of putting more scientific rigor into evidence analysis and the courtroom testimony often used to incriminate and convict defendants.
Clarksville Circuit Judge William "Bill" Pearson plead guilty to two misdemeanors on Monday, including DWI and reckless driving, relating to a Jan. 20 incident in which he blew through a DWI checkpoint before leading officers on a chase of over a mile near Clarksville.
In a hearing this afternoon before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright, attorneys for death row inmate Ledell Lee argued that they should be allowed to locate evidence collected prior to his arrest in 1993, including a single hair and a Converse shoe with a pinhead-sized spot of human blood on it, for modern DNA testing. They hope testing can prove Lee's innocence by showing that the African-American hair found at the crime scene belongs to someone other than Lee, and that the speck of blood found on Lee's shoe does not belong to the victim in the case.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker is hearing arguments today from attorneys for Marcel Williams, who contend that due to his physical condition, the lethal injection scheduled for this coming Monday could risk a botched or agonizingly slow and painful execution, in violation of his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment.
Attorneys and experts ventured deep into the weeds of the available medical literature on the drug midazolam today in federal court, where they are arguing for and against a federal lawsuit brought by Arkansas death row prisoners seeking to make the case that the state's abbreviated execution schedule — which would see seven men executed this month — would violate the Eighth Amendment and their right to effective counsel. Midazolam is a sedative that is the first of a three-drug cocktail the state plans to use to execute seven inmates this month. Today is the final day of four days of hearings in the matter.
Another late night for attorneys arguing for and against a federal lawsuit brought by Arkansas death row prisoners seeking to make the case that the state's abbreviated execution schedule — which would see eight men executed this month — would violate the Eighth Amendment and their right to effective counsel. The hearing continued past 6 p.m. tonight before U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker at the Federal Courthouse in Little Rock, and resumes for a final day tomorrow at 9 a.m. In February, Governor Asa Hutchinson scheduled double executions for each of four nights, April 17, 20, 24 and 27.
A hearing continued into the evening before U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker at the Federal Courthouse in Little Rock, with attorneys for Arkansas death row prisoners seeking to make the cast that the state's abbreviated execution schedule — which would see eight inmates executed in 10 days this month — is in violation of the Eighth Amendment and their right to effective counsel.
A Garland County jury today found Kevin Duck, 33, guilty in the murder of his girlfriend, Dawna Natzke, a Hot Springs Village Police Department dispatcher whose body was found floating a remote pond near Hot Springs Village in December 2011.
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.
KATV reports that a verdict was reached late last night in the wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit brought by former David Singer, a former Arkansas treasurer's office staffer, against Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his chief of staff Jim Harris. The jury found in favor of Milligan and Harris.
The Supreme Court today issued a temporary suspension, with pay, for Circuit Court Judge William Pearson, who has served as judge for the 5th judicial district (Pope, Johnson, and Franklin counties) since 2008.
The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today filed a petition with the Arkansas Supreme Court requesting the suspension of Circuit Court Judge William Pearson, who has served as judge for the fifth judicial district (Pope, Johnson, and Franklin counties) since 2008.
United States Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe issued a recommendation today that the federal civil rights case over Sherwood's hot check court, which plaintiffs had decried as an unconstitutional "debtor's prison" that kept defendants on a hamster wheel of debt and incarceration for decades, be dismissed without prejudice.
Last month, the Arkansas Bar Association circulated the final draft of a proposed constitutional amendment to chose members of the Arkansas Supreme Court by appointment rather than election. Now, it's hosting public forums to discuss the proposal.
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
The Little Rock City Board has scheduled a special Sunday TV show to posture about violence. A grassroots anti-crime group complains that the city board had ignored its calls for action until an episode of violence in a white neighborhood.
Opponents of an extension of 12.4 millions in Little Rock School District property taxes at a cost of $600 million or more say critical construction needs in the district can be made without a bond issue that lines the pockets of bond firms and lawyers.
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.