Arkansas Courts

A judge has ruled that a man who is charged in the kidnapping and killing of a Little Rock real estate agent will be allowed to represent himself.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that 34-year-old Arron Lewis won his request after Judge Herbert Wright accepted a mental evaluation last week that deemed Lewis fit for trial.

When questioned about his ability to represent himself, Lewis said that he has some college education and that he can read and write. He also mentioned that he had "won a lawsuit against Benton County."

A lawsuit seeking to stop construction of a steel mill in northeast Arkansas has been dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit by Nucor Steel against Big River Steel. Holmes ruled that the citizen lawsuit under the federal Clean Air Act is not authorized and that his court has no jurisdiction.

Nucor claimed Big River Steel has violated the Clean Air Act. Big River Steel countered that the mill is still under construction and not operational, so it can't be emitting anything to violate the act.

On Tuesday Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright ruled that Arkansas's criminal eviction law violates both the Arkansas and U.S. Constitutions. The order only applies to Pulaski County. The statute concerns the way in which landlords and tenants settle disputes over non-payment of rent and eviction proceedings.

KUAR's Chris Hickey spoke with attorney Jason Auer, part of a four person legal team which challenged the law.

The Supreme Court is siding with a Muslim prison inmate in Arkansas who sued for the right to grow a short beard for religious reasons.

The court's unanimous ruling Tuesday in a case about religious liberty stands in contrast to the Hobby Lobby case that bitterly divided the justices in June over whether family-owned corporations could mount religious objections to paying for women's contraceptives under the health care overhaul.

A former Faulkner County Circuit Court judge and candidate for the state Court of Appeals has pleaded guilty to bribery.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock says former Judge Michael Maggio pleaded guilty Friday and admitted accepting a campaign donation in exchange for reducing a jury verdict against a Conway company.

Maggio's attorney did not return a phone call for comment.

Republican Attorney General-elect Leslie Rutledge at KUAR during the 2014 May Primary run-off.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Outgoing Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced on Tuesday his intent to appeal a federal judge in Little Rock's decision striking down Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage. McDaniel said he had hoped the state Supreme Court would have ruled, suggesting it may have affected his decision to appeal, before Friday's deadline for a federal appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Missouri.

KUAR's Jacob Kauffman spoke with the state's next attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, who will take McDaniel's position and the cases on same-sex marriage in mid-January.

Arkansas' attorney general says he will appeal a federal judge's ruling that found voters were wrong to ban gay marriage during a referendum 10 years ago. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Tuesday he would file a notice of appeal with the 8th U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled last month that a voter-approved gay-marriage ban and a separate state law are unconstitutional.A decision in a similar case before the Arkansas Supreme Court is pending.

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a civil lawsuit that was filed by the boyfriend of a slain Arkansas beauty queen.

Kevin Jones was initially charged and put on trial for the 2005 killing of his girlfriend, Nona Dirksmeyer. Jones was acquitted by a jury and another man was later charged, but not convicted, in the case.

Jones sued Russellville police four years after his acquittal, claiming that officers conspired to frame him for the crime. A federal judge in Little Rock dismissed Jones' lawsuit, saying he waited too long to file the case.

A federal judge has sentenced a former northwest Arkansas developer to more than five years in prison. Brandon Barber was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Fort Smith after pleading guilty last year to bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors had accused Barber of concealing his assets and income after he filed for bankruptcy, as well as defrauding banks for loans to finance real estate projects.

After Jacksonville voters decided Tuesday to separate from the Pulaski County School district to create their own, a candidate in Maumelle wants to do the same. Mayoral candidate Preston Lewis says about 58 percent of the city’s children attend public schools and says that number would be higher if Maumelle had its own school board.

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