Arkansas Courts

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.

A decade-old lawsuit filed against the tobacco company Phillip Morris USA  was approved to proceed in Little Rock Tuesday.

Plaintiffs are seeking to represent every Arkansan who smoked Marlboro Lights over a 38-year period. 

Yesterday's hearing had been delayed for years over jurisdictional questions. However, in a ruling,  Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox granted the class-action status over the objections of Philip Morris lawyers who wanted any aggrieved customers to file individual lawsuits.

A federal judge has rejected the Little Rock School District's motion to delay a coming trial on Arkansas' request to end long-running desegregation payments to three school districts.

Judge D. Price Marshall on Tuesday rejected the district's request to stay proceedings in the trial, set to begin Dec. 9. 

Little Rock schools argued that the trial should be delayed while a federal appeals court considers their claim that Arkansas' approval of charter schools in Pulaski County violates the desegregation agreement.

Arkansas Lawmakers To Discuss School Funding Issues

Oct 15, 2013

Arkansas lawmakers are set to discuss a state Supreme Court ruling that revives a lawsuit challenging the way the state funds education. 

The House and Senate Education committees planned to meet jointly Tuesday to discuss school funding issues such as transportation and school facilities. 

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and Senior Assistant Attorney General Scott Richardson were scheduled to discuss pending litigation that could affect educational adequacy.

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