Arkansas Courts

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A handful of state lawmakers are calling for Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s impeachment amid questions of his fitness to serve on the bench.

Griffen on Tuesday repeated his April 2017 protest of laying on a cot in front of the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, intending to symbolize a condemned inmate on a gurney.

State Sen. Trent Garner (R-Camden), who called for Griffen’s impeachment following last year’s protest, said Griffen’s vocal objection to capital punishment is one of many questionable actions and public statements made during Griffen’s tenure.

Jury selection is underway in the trial for a former Arkansas state senator accused in an alleged kickback scheme.

Former Sen. Jon Woods faces 15 fraud charges. Prosecutors accuse of him of taking kickbacks from former Ecclesia College president Oren Paris III in exchange for directing state funding to the college.

Paris pleaded guilty last week to one count of fraud and agreed to testify for prosecutors. Woods' attorney, Patrick Benca, has said his client is innocent and that defense attorneys will prove that, despite Paris' guilty plea.

Dicamba damage
University of Arkansas

Arkansas is asking the state's top court to halt a judge's order allowing six farmers to use an herbicide that was banned by state regulators following complaints that it drifted onto crops and caused damage.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to stay Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox's ruling exempting the farmers from the state Plant Board's rule banning dicamba's use. The panel has banned dicamba's use from April 16 through October 31 this year. Rutledge on Wednesday filed notice she was appealing Fox's ruling.

Opioid Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas is suing three drug makers claiming they’re at fault for the opioid crisis that has caused a drastic increase in the number of overdose deaths in Arkansas.

A former state representative has been chosen the new chief administrative officer in Jefferson County after the former executive resigned when it was revealed he had received $100,000 in bribes.

The county's Quorum Court on Thursday selected 82-year-old Booker Clemons as the new county judge.

Clemons is retired from the University of Arkansas' Cooperative Extension Service and served in the state House from 2001-2007.

A newspaper says a former Arkansas lawmaker who became Jefferson County's chief administrative officer will resign after a federal prosecutor revealed the official had received $100,000 in bribes.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reported Monday that County Judge Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV sent a resignation letter to the governor, effective Thursday. In the letter, Wilkins said he was sorry his own actions made the resignation necessary.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

An Arkansas judge who blocked the state from issuing its first licenses to grow medical marijuana has rejected an effort to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's application process for cultivation facilities.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen on Friday rejected the state's argument that Naturalis Health, LLC, a company that unsuccessfully applied for a license, didn't have standing. Griffen also rejected the state's argument that it is immune from the lawsuit.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and potential candidates Frank Scott, Jr. and Warwick Sabin.
Arkansas Times

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by the city of Little Rock that attempted to stop two potential candidates for mayor from using exploratory committees to raise money.

The city argued that Frank Scott, Jr. and Warwick Sabin should follow a city ordinance that prohibits raising campaign money until June. But the ordinance doesn’t mention exploratory committees for all but formally declared candidates like Sabin and Scott.

A former Arkansas judge who admitted giving lighter sentences to men in return for sexual favors was investigated for similar crimes two decades ago but was never charged because he gave up his job as a deputy prosecutor.

Joseph Boeckmann later became a district judge, then preyed on men who appeared in his court for minor offenses. He pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud and witness tampering, and faces sentencing Wednesday.

The government says the FBI investigated Boeckmann more than 20 years ago but that no one raised a red flag when he later ran for the bench.

As Arkansas lawmakers headed to Little Rock Monday for the fiscal session, former Rep. Eddie Wayne Cooper, D-Melbourne, pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle more than $4 million from a Springfield, Mo.-based health care charity.

Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Cooper, 51, waived his right Monday to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Rush to charges of one count of conspiracy to embezzle from the nonprofit organization.

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