Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court says a system of grants lawmakers used to pay for local projects around the state violated a constitutional requirement that budget measures have a distinctly stated purpose.

Justices on Thursday reversed a lower court's ruling in favor of $2.9 million that went toward one of eight planning districts in 2015. The case was brought by former state Rep. Mike Wilson, who was also behind a lawsuit that prompted the court in 2006 to bar the Legislature from directly funding local projects around the state with surplus money.

Arkansas' highest court says Pulaski County judges can hold resentencing hearings for seven inmates sentenced to life terms as juveniles, potentially setting a course for how courts statewide should handle cases from similar inmates in other counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life terms without at least a chance at parole. Arkansas legislators subsequently declared such inmates parole-eligible after a term of years, but Pulaski County judges want each inmate to receive an individualized resentencing hearing.

Arkansas Supreme Court justices are questioning just how specific lawmakers need to be in funding measures as they weigh a lawsuit that claims the Legislature is violating the constitution by sending money to regional agencies to be distributed around the state for local projects.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to make it easier to challenge proposed constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Legislature.

Justices on Thursday rejected an attorney's request to change court rules to allow challenges to be filed directly with the state Supreme Court over proposed amendments referred to voters by the Legislature. The proposal would have also required the same standard on ballot measures initiated by voters to be used on legislatively referred ones.

Judge Bobby McCallister
Arkansas Business

An Arkansas judge accused to failing to pay state and federal income taxes is agreeing to a temporary suspension with pay.

An attorney for Saline County Circuit Court Judge Bobby McCallister told the state Supreme Court in a filing Monday the judge agrees to the temporary suspension until his tax case is resolved. The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission asked justices for McCallister's temporary suspension with pay after he was charged with four felony counts of failing to pay taxes.

A state commission will be holding a public hearing Tuesday morning on its proposal to raise salaries by two percent for state elected officials. The Independent Citizens Commission meets at the state Capitol Tuesday at 9am. The commission has proposed pay raises for members of the state judiciary, including Supreme Court justices, Appeals Court justices; state legislators and the state’s seven constitutional officers.  

Arkansas' highest court is seeking an 11 percent pay raise for its justices, a move the chief justice says is needed to be in line with what other state supreme courts in the country are paid.

Chief Justice Dan Kemp on Tuesday outlined the proposal to the Independent Citizens Commission, which sets salaries for the state's top elected officials.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied requests to stay the executions of two death row inmates scheduled to die this month. The court denied requests from inmates Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee. The court’s orders relate to the inmates’ post-conviction appeals process.

Jason McGehee
Department of Correction

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to block the execution for one of eight inmates who are scheduled to be put to death next month.

Justices on Thursday denied a motion to recall the mandate in the case of convicted murderer Jason McGehee, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 27. McGehee's attorney had asked justices to vacate his death sentence and send his case back to a lower court for resentencing, citing problems with the verdict forms in his resentencing.

Attorneys for eight Arkansas death row inmates scheduled to be put to death next month are asking the state's highest court to void Gov. Asa Hutchinson's orders setting their execution dates.

The inmates asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to invalidate the proclamations scheduling their executions. On Monday, Hutchinson set four double executions during a 10-day period in April, though the state is lacking one of the drugs needed to put the men to death.

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