Arkansas Courts

The Washington County clerk has resumed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a day after a circuit judge in Pulaski County ruled that all state laws barring gay marriage are unconstitutional.

Two same-sex couples received wedding licenses shortly after the Washington County clerk's office opened Friday at 8 a.m. Clerk Becky Lewallen says a couple did stop by Thursday afternoon for a license, but she told them toreturn in the morning.

Two courts are considering challenges to Arkansas' new voter ID law as early voting approaches for the state's May 20 primary.

Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox is scheduled to hold a hearing Friday afternoon on whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the new law that requires voters to show photo identification before they cast a ballot. Fox struck down the law in a separate case last week, but the state Supreme Court stayed that ruling while it considers an appeal of the decision.

Advocates of ending Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage are to make their case before a circuit judge in Pulaski County.

More than three dozen people are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Arkansas' voter-approved ban on gay marriage. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is to preside over the hearing at 1 p.m. Thursday in Little Rock.

Late last year, Piazza refused to grant a motion by the state that sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but he also refused to grant a motion by the couples suing, who asked him to block enforcement of the ban.

Martha Shoffner
David Goins / KARK-TV

A federal judge has upheld the corruption conviction of Arkansas' former treasurer, rejecting her request to have the case heard by state authorities. Lawyers for Martha Shoffner said the Arkansas Ethics Commission - not federal jurors - should have addressed claims that she accepted $36,000 from a bond broker who did business with the state. A federal jury convicted Shoffner on March 11. The defense team said the federal government wasn't harmed by Shoffner's actions and wanted U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes to dismiss the charges against her.

Another Arkansas judge has been ruled eligible for office after his candidacy was challenged because of a temporary license suspension. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled Tuesday that Circuit Judge H.G. Foster is eligible for the ballot. Foster's candidacy had been challenged because his license was temporarily suspended because of late payment of annual dues. State law says a person must be a licensed attorney for six years to be eligible for a judgeship.

A hearing is set in a lawsuit over how absentee ballots are handled under Arkansas' new voter ID law, five weeks ahead of the state's primary election.

The Arkansas Republican Party has asked a Pulaski County judge to allow it to help defend the state Board of Election Commissioners for adopting a rule that gives absentee voters additional time to show proof of ID. The Pulaski County Election Commission claimed in a lawsuit last month that the state panel overstepped its bounds with the new rule.

A hearing is set for 9 a.m. Monday in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision tossing out a $1.2 billion judgment against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson over the marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

McDaniel on Monday filed a petition for rehearing over the high court's decision last month that the state misapplied the Medicaid fraud law in its suit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc.

Two lawsuits have been filed challenging the eligibility of two people running for separate judgeships in Faulkner County.

The lawsuits allege that candidate Angela Byrd and current Circuit Judge H.G. Foster are ineligible for the ballot because both had their law licenses temporarily suspended for not paying annual state-bar fees.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has thrown out a $1.2 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit challenging its marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The Thursday ruling comes in an appeal of lawsuit filed by Arkansas against the drugmaker and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

The state says the companies didn't properly communicate the drug's risks and marketed it for off-label use, calling the practices fraudulent.

Johnson & Johnson said there was no fraud and Arkansas' Medicaid program wasn't harmed.

Jack Gillean
Faulkner County Sheriff's Office

A former University of Central Arkansas administrator remains free on bond pending an appeal after a jury convicted him of six counts of commercial burglary.

The jury in Van Buren County recommended Wednesday that former UCA chief of staff Jack Gillean serve three years in prison. Earlier in the day, the jury deliberated about an hour and a half before convicting Gillean on the felony counts.

Prosecutors accused Gillean of giving master keys to a student so the student could break into professors' offices to steal tests.

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