Arkansas Courts

A former central Arkansas circuit court judge has voluntarily surrendered his license to avoid a disciplinary hearing.

The Arkansas Supreme Court accepted the surrender Thursday from Michael Maggio, barring him from practicing law in Arkansas. The Faulkner County judge pleaded guilty to bribery earlier this year.

Maggio pleaded guilty in January for accepting campaign donations from a nursing home owner and a lobbyist in exchange for reducing the award from a wrongful death lawsuit. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

A challenge by several death row inmates to a new Arkansas law aimed at resuming executions is being moved to federal court at the request of the state's attorney general.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Friday moved to have the lawsuit pulled from Pulaski County court, saying the inmates' complaints that the new law violates the U.S. Constitution would be better suited before a federal judge. An attorney for the inmates on Monday said he has 30 days to contest the move, and said he hasn't decided whether to do so.

Arkansas Supreme Court
courts.arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Supreme Court has decided a separate case is needed before they can determine the legality of same-sex marriage - a move that will likely push the consideration until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the same topic.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled a new case is needed to decide whether a justice sworn in in January should help decide whether gay marriage is legal in Arkansas. Justices originally heard oral arguments in November.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in April and have a decision by late June.

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.

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