Arkansas Courts

The trial of a former University of Central Arkansas chief of staff charged in the theft of tests is scheduled to start.

The trial for Jack Gillean is to begin with opening statements Monday in Van Buren County Circuit Court in Clinton after being moved there from Faulkner County because of pretrial publicity. A jury of seven men and five women plus two alternates was seated last week.

Gillean has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Gillean gave a UCA student a master key - knowing that the student would use it to steal tests from the offices of professors.

A judge has rescheduled oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging Arkansas' new lethalinjection law.

The arguments were originally scheduled to be heard Friday in Pulaski County Circuit Court, but Judge Wendell Griffen delayed the proceedings until Feb. 14.

Nine death row inmates are suing the state over an execution law that legislators enacted last year. That new law came about after the state Supreme Court struck down the previous one in 2012, saying legislators had ceded too much control over execution procedures to correction officials.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in Johnson & Johnson's request to overturn a verdict and $1.2 billion fine over the marketing of the antipsychotics drug Risperdal.

Oral arguments are set for Feb. 27 in Little Rock for the appeal from Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel successfully sued the companies, claiming they downplayed and hid risks associated with taking Risperdal.

Arkansas Supreme Court justices are to hear an appeal from a death row inmate who says he was mentally unfit when he was tried in 2002 for the murder and mutilation of a woman at a transient camp outside of Van Buren.

Rickey Dale Newman was convicted in the 2001 death of 46-year-old Marie Cholette. After a one-day trial, he was sentenced to death.

The high court is to hear oral arguments at 10 a.m. Thursday. Newman had said he wanted to be executed but changed his mind in 2005 after an execution date had been set for him and had his attorney apply for a stay.

A Washington, D.C.-based legal center is telling the Baxter County officials to remove a nativity scene from the courthouse lawn or face a lawsuit.

A letter from Appignani Humanist Legal Center attorney Monica Miller says the display is "a monument to Christianity" and an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

The letter to County Judge Mickey Pendergrass, Mountain Home Mayor David Osmon and Mountain Home attorney Rick Spencer - who donated the display to the county - says a county resident contacted the center about the display.

A hearing is scheduled in February regarding a properties associated with convicted evangelist Tony Alamo.

The Texarkana Gazette reported Thursday that U.S. Magistrate Barry Bryant set the hearing to consider claims by Alamo followers that they - not Alamo - own the properties that include houses in Fouke and Texarkana and a gym in Fouke.

Bryant has already ordered the auction of six properties to partially satisfy a $30 million judgment Alamo owes two men who a jury found were abused when they were children in Alamo's ministry.

Gov. Mike Beebe has announced his intent to grant seven pardons.

Beebe's office said Tuesday that each of the seven have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole-and-probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences. 

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't set aside the conviction and life term given to a Randolph County man in the 1998 slayings of a family of four from Dalton.

Billy Dale Green said a judge should have stopped his 2012 trial at least four times, but justices said Thursday any errors were cured by instructions given to the jury.

Members of Green's family testified Green left his house one night in 1998 saying he had to "clean up a mess" created by his son, Chad Green.

Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

The Pulaski County jail has become critically overcrowded, Sheriff Doc Holladay said Monday, which could result in it only being able to house the most dangerous offenders.

It comes as Arkansas has made changes to the parole system, stiffening rules for when people must be detained for violating parole.  That has greatly increased the number of violators being detained at county jails, waiting for space to become available in state prisons.

Adjoa A. Aiyetoro
Malcolm Glover / KUAR

Efforts are underway to examine the criminal justice system in Arkansas and eventually come up with recommendations to improve state prisons.

UALR Bowen Law School professor Adjoa Aiyetoro is overseeing the project. She’s been working with elected officials and community leaders for nearly a year on research concerning racial disparities in sentencing and treatment at Arkansas courts and prisons.

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