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Update: County administrator appearing in court Wednesday

Updated with links to motion, affidavit and order of jurisdiction.

Posted: October 8, 2012 - 7:05pm

Faulkner County administrator Jeff Johnston will appear in court Wednesday for a pretrial hearing armed with a motion request to dismiss his case based on a claim that the judge who signed an arrest warrant and felony charge information was out of her jurisdiction.

Twentieth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said Monday his office will file a response Tuesday before the hearing, but he declined to say what the response would be.

In the motion filed at Faulkner County Circuit Court by attorney Joe Don Winningham, the defense claims the Juvenile Court and Fifth Division Judge Rhonda Wood cannot preside over the criminal case without violating the Administrative Plan for the Twentieth Judicial District approved this year by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The motion states pursuant to the plan, all criminal cases are assigned to Judge David Reynolds or Judge Charles Clawson.

Winningham claims the administrative act stipulates Wood, whose signature appears on Johnston’s felony information, presides over Faulkner, Searcy and Van Buren county civil cases, cases of juvenile delinquency, cases of neglect, and criminal cases where juveniles are charged as adults.

An order of jurisdiction filed at Faulkner County Circuit Court and signed by Wood says the State presented the office with the bench warrant with the explanation that other judges must rely on the county administrator for budget issues.

According to the motion to quash or dismiss Johnston’s charge, Judge Clawson was first presented the warrant, but declined to sign it.

Wood wrote in the order of jurisdiction, “The explanation was that this division would be more appropriate due to Judge Wood leaving for the Court of Appeals.”

Winningham argues Judge Reynolds is also leaving the circuit court bench at the close of the year to serve as District Court judge, and that the Quorum Court approves budgets in circuit court offices.

“The amount of contribution to the budget of district courts by each county is established by law,” the motion states.

In the motion’s accompanying brief, Winningham claims the State did not follow the allocation and assignments of the administrative plan, and such “hand picking” of a judge “leaves the impression that the judicial process has been abused.”

Johnston appears before Judge Wood at 1 p.m. Wednesday in courtroom E.

He was arrested in August on the charge he used county funds of about $3,800 for asphalt work on his driveway.

Johnston has pleaded innocent to the charge.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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passthesalt
363
Points
passthesalt 10/08/12 - 08:34 pm
4
0

Huh?

Am I reading this right? Is Winningham saying the charges should be dismissed because Rhonda Wood does not have jurisdiction, and the two judges who do are going to other courts?

Shameful
4680
Points
Shameful 10/09/12 - 07:15 am
5
2

Not what it said...

Judge Rhonda Wood is leaving her position as Juvenile Judge to go to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, being elected to that position, she will leave the 20th Judicial District in 2013. Wood was appointed to the current position by Governor Huckabee to replace retiring Judge Linda Collier. Judge David Reynolds was elected to District Court Judge Position 1 and will take up that position in 2013. Judge Reynolds has been 20th District, 1st Division Circuit Judge since 1991.
In March 2011, 20th District Administrative Judge Mike Maggio filed the administrative plan with the Arkansas Supreme Court, stating that in Faulkner County, 50% of all criminal cases will be attended by Judge Reynolds and 50% by Judge Clawson.
See here: https://courts.arkansas.gov/circuitcourt/Admin_Plans_2012/Twentieth_Circ...
This article doesn't give much details, I will attempt to: Prosecutor Hiland stated, basically, in(another article) his filing of charges against Jeff Johnston, the reasoning behind asking Judge Wood to sign the warrant of arrest, was that Judge Wood leaving the 20th Judicial District would keep peace among the Quorum Court members and the Faulkner County Division 20th Judicial District Court members.
Strange isn't it, that Judge Wood attend a fundraiser and spoke there on the behalf of Cody Hiland's then campaign for 20th Judicial District Prosecutor? Non-partisan? Phewey! Isn't that a kick in the head!!

BuzzBy
17777
Points
BuzzBy 10/09/12 - 06:43 am
8
2

FUNNY

Unpublished

“leaves the impression that the judicial process has been abused.”

And all Jeff Johnston would have needed to do is show a reciept where "HE" purchased the asphalt rather than have someone throw some money at the county after you go caught stealing "ALLEGEDLY"

Shameful
4680
Points
Shameful 10/09/12 - 08:26 am
3
4

Well....

If Hearon and Hargrove wouldn't/couldn't give Johnston a receipt, how could he produce one? Me thinks they got paid more than once, that's just my suspicion! I can't prove it, myself, but, maybe Johnston's attorney can! Let's just see if the charges are dropped and then re-filed under the proper jurisiction, first....Okay?

BuzzBy
17777
Points
BuzzBy 10/09/12 - 09:42 am
6
2

Listen Dave

Unpublished

Your problem? Listen Dave, don't give me any of your horse "poop" about jurisdiction in this one, you understand?

Senseable
238
Points
Senseable 10/10/12 - 04:08 pm
4
4

He would have to Pay First

Mr. Johnson could not pay once the materials were delivered and it was wrong to have any county workers in such a delivery or any work. It appears that he is definitely guilty and should plead such. It appears that the county Judge has a problem in interviewing people or providing leadership to his employees. This should never have occurred and it should have been obvious to all involved! Let us elect the other guy to lead the county.
We can do better!!

Shameful
4680
Points
Shameful 10/30/12 - 12:06 am
0
2

Well, See here....

http://faulkner.courtconnect.net/docsdms/default.aspx/?A=/ck_image.prese...

I knew these charges were all political "crap" but this document proves it. Some of you will weep and sigh and try to justify the wasting of tax payer dollars on a bogus investigation and a trial, but that is exactly what has happened here, the wasting of precious time and money. I sure hope the Sheriff and Prosecutors office are mature enough to admit it and drop the charges against Jeff Johnston. If not then I sincerely hope that when it's all over, the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Judicial Conduct committee places some serious sanctions and/or fines on all involved in this politically motivated injustice towards Jeff Johnston!

Rumor has it that Cody Hiland is going to seek the 2014 Office of Arkansas Attorney General, I say Go for it, Cody. Waste your own money. We will be rid of you, anyway, you will not get elected to that office, period! A one term-elected prosecutor, a first for Faulkner County, I laugh and laugh!

i_wonder
27122
Points
i_wonder 10/30/12 - 09:21 am
2
0

crap?

Unpublished

Read page 10/12 point #7, all the Rogers loads were billed to the county.

Surely you don't think all citizens of this county are too stupid to see what happened in the summer of 2008.

Somebody got a nice driveway on the county's tab.

And some of us can't even get a pothole filled. Meh.

sandydee
262
Points
sandydee 10/09/12 - 07:44 am
4
4

I thought a Judge was a Judge was a Judge

Ok so the prosecutor went to the judge (judge Clawson) who was the original judge assigned the case and as has been reported he refused to sign any documents or accept the case and he Judge Clawson directed the prosecutor to go to Judge Wood. The prosecutor was just following Judge Clawson order to go to Judge Wood.
A review of cases filed does show that Judge Reynolds, Judge Clawson, Judge Maggio and Judge Wood all routinely handle criminal court matters on a daily basis. Judge Wood has many criminal cases in her court. Correct me if I am wrong but I think Mr. Whinningham was a deputy prosecutor in Judge Wood's court on a regular basis. So I would think he knows better.

Do you think Mr. Johnson or his lawyer would be complaining if the case had gone to Judge Clark?

Maybe this is just a delay tactic for his "innocent client" or Maybe they are hoping to get HG Foster as the new judge or special prosecutor on the case.

Shameful
4680
Points
Shameful 10/15/12 - 11:36 pm
3
2

Well Sandydee

You said "I thought a Judge was a Judge was a Judge
Ok so the prosecutor went to the judge (judge Clawson) who was the original judge assigned the case and as has been reported he refused to sign any documents or accept the case and he Judge Clawson directed the prosecutor to go to Judge Wood. The prosecutor was just following Judge Clawson order to go to Judge Wood."
We the public DO NOT know whether the Hiland went to Judge Clawson or Judge Reynolds first with the warrant. Judge Wood is the person that said that in her signing of the Order for the warrant, read here: http://faulkner.courtconnect.net/docsdms/default.aspx/?A=/ck_image.prese...
Nothing on this case has been recorded by Judge Clawson or Judge Reynolds on Court Connect, fairly sure any referral would have been copied there.
You also said " A review of cases filed does show that Judge Reynolds, Judge Clawson, Judge Maggio and Judge Wood all routinely handle criminal court matters on a daily basis. Judge Wood has many criminal cases in her court. Correct me if I am wrong but I think Mr. Whinningham was a deputy prosecutor in Judge Wood's court on a regular basis. So I would think he knows better."
I am not correcting you about all Judges in Faulkner County being able to hear any criminal cases, but there is an Administrative plan for Faulkner County that was filed with the AR Supreme Court stating that all Criminal cases in this County would be assigned first to Judge Clawson or Judge Reynolds, only after they (Clawson or Reynolds) have referred it to another Judge can it be presented before one of the others and then Judge Maggio, being the Administrative Judge, assigns to the next Judge and that order is recorded. Not done in this case, which causes me to believe it was never given to Clawson or Reynolds. Judge Wood said "The State presented the warrant to this office upon the referral from the 3rd division criminal judge to this division." Judge Clawson is Third Division Criminal Court Judge.
But, you, Sandydee should know all this too well!!
You, Sandydee, said "Do you think Mr. Johnson or his lawyer would be complaining if the case had gone to Judge Clark?"
To that I answer, Yes, he would have if the Administrative plan was not followed as it should.
And lastly you said "Maybe this is just a delay tactic for his "innocent client" or Maybe they are hoping to get HG Foster as the new judge or special prosecutor on the case."
Seems you think H.G. Foster may get the appointment by Governor Beebe to fill Judge Reynolds position in the First Division, what makes you suggest it? Your husband won't like H.G either, but then he will be gone and so will you when it's time for that to take place. I say Good riddance, troublemaker....

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