Arkansas Judicial System

Cummins arkansas department of correction prison
Arkansas Department of Correction

Attorneys for a group of death row inmates say Arkansas' highest court should strike down the state's execution law if justices agree with a lower court that its secrecy provisions on lethal injection drugs are unconstitutional.

The attorneys on Monday said the court should dismiss the appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's ruling against the secrecy provisions. The Supreme Court previously stayed eight executions until the challenge filed by a handful of death row inmates is heard.

File photo: Former Circuit Court Judge Michael Maggio outside of federal court in Little Rock.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Former Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Mike Maggio, who pleaded guilty last year to accepting a bribe, was sentenced Thursday to a maximum 10 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Miller handed down the sentence, which also includes two years of supervision upon release. Miller did not issue a fine.

A judge has denied a request from a former Arkansas circuit judge to withdraw his guilty plea on a federal bribery charge.

Federal judge Brian Miller issued his ruling Thursday and scheduled Maggio's sentencing for March 24. Miller said the federal bribery law was correctly applied in Maggio's case and that there was sufficient evidence against Maggio and that the state judge likely understood the charge when pleading guilty last year.

Arkansas Department of Human Services

The head of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Juvenile Justice Reform Board is disputing an advocacy group’s characterization of the state’s oldest youth facility as “notorious.”

Youth First, a criminal justice reform group, ranked the state’s Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center near Alexander as one of the nation’s 80 worst.

Marcus Devine, Director of Youth Services at the Department of Human Services, said that’s hyperbole.  

An Arkansas judicial campaign watchdog group has issued a cease and desist letter to an out-of-state group running ads against Little Rock attorney Clark Mason in the race for an associate state Supreme Court justice spot. The group, consisting mostly of current and former Arkansas Judges and legal professionals, called the Arkansas Campaign Conduct and Education Committee, Inc.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark) in February.

In a rare bi-partisan moment the U.S. Senate - or all but one member - was prepared to take a step on Thursday to change part of the nation's juvenile justice system. President Obama's State of the Union address in January harped on criminal justice as an area where common ground might be found.

The congressional news site Roll Call has an account of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas ruffling the feathers of Democrats and Republicans alike.

McPherson Prison Unit in Newport.
Arkansas Department Of Correction

A former Arkansas prison chaplain has been released on $30,000 bond after turning himself in to be charged with 50 counts of sexual assault. Jackson County Sheriff's office employees said Kenneth Dewitt turned himself in Monday morning and was released on bond after seeing a judge.

File photo: Attorney Cheryl Maples.

A same-sex couple seeking to amend their child’s birth certificate to include the non-biological mother has been denied by the Arkansas Department of Health despite a judge’s order. Following Monday's request to change documentation the attorney general's office filed a request for a stay on Tuesday with a notification of intent to appeal.

Just hours after Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Fox’s decision on Monday Marissa Pavan went with her spouse and attorney Cheryl Maples to the state’s vital records office.

Attorneys for eight Arkansas inmates whose executions have been put on hold say a judge had the authority to block the state from putting them to death while he considers a challenge to the state's lethal injection law.

The attorneys on Friday asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to deny a motion by the state to dissolve Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's order blocking the executions, which were set to begin next week.

Judge Wendell Griffen at Truthful Tuesday on the steps of the state Capitol in 2014.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen has set March 1 and 2 as hearing dates to consider the constitutionality of a state law allowing lethal injection drug types to be kept secret.

The plaintiffs in the case argue such secrecy clouds their ability to challenge a potentially cruel and unusual form of punishment. Eight Arkansas inmates currently await execution.