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Winningham refuses to withdraw motion in Johnston case, still facing $5,000 fine

Posted: October 24, 2012 - 7:54pm

Two attorneys are representing a third after a local judge sanctioned him in juvenile court two weeks ago. The separate action is connected to the case against Faulkner County Administrator Jeff Johnston.

Little Rock attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, along with Conway attorney Frank Shaw, filed a motion Tuesday afternoon to vacate sanctions by Judge Rhonda Wood, who ordered attorney Joe Don Winningham to pay $5,000 for filing “an improper pleading” to dismiss the theft-of-property case against Johnston. Wood said Winningham had 21 days from Oct. 10 to withdraw his original motion in order to avoid the fine. Instead, Winningham retained Rosenzweig and Shaw.

“We have asked for an expedited hearing,” Shaw said. “We would like to have it heard by Nov. 9. Joe Don has retained both of us in this matter, and we have been involved with the motion.”

At question is whether Wood is the proper entity to serve the warrant against Johnston, who is accused of using $3,800 in county funds for asphalt work to his driveway. Winningham filed a motion seeking the dismissal of Johnston’s arrest warrant and felony charge based on a claim that criminal cases in the 20th Judicial District are assigned to either Judge Charles E. Clawson or Judge David Reynolds under an administrative plan approved in January by the Arkansas Supreme Court. In August, prosecutors presented a warrant for Johnston’s arrest to Wood for approval after Clawson reportedly declined to sign it.

Wood called the motion to quash the warrant “frivolous and without a scintilla of merit,” and ruled that Winningham should return to or not charge Johnston any fees associated with “preparing or defending the frivolous argument,” before imposing Rule 11 sanctions for the filing of “an improper pleading” and ordering the hefty fine, payable to the county’s Victim Assistance Fund by Dec. 1, 2012 “to deter future conduct.”

In his motion, Rosenzweig asserted that Winningham “was completely within his rights — indeed within his professional obligation as trial counsel — to challenge the propriety of this Court’s assertion of jurisdiction, including the issuance of the warrant upon which the Court’s claim of jurisdiction arose.”

Winningham himself filed an amended motion that clarified his earlier argument. he said during the previous hearing for Johnston that he would not withdraw the motion.

“I never file a motion that I don’t believe in,” Winningham said.

Johnston’s trial is set for Dec. 6-7.

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D. Boon
77
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D. Boon 10/25/12 - 09:31 am
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No comment from the Prosecutor?

Things are getting WACKY over in 5th division. What's the scoop on the federal suit filed against the judge (related to another incident)?

ucantbserious
30303
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ucantbserious 10/25/12 - 10:02 am
5
1
Hmm

I find it ironic that the fine against the lawyer is more than the defendant is accusing of stealing. I wonder if the lawyer will bill his client for this expense.

RanCrockett
287
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RanCrockett 10/25/12 - 10:36 am
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Federal Suit

It was filed yesterday by Teresa Bloodman (attorney), names Judge Rhonda Wood, Prosecutor Cody Hiland and Deputy Prosecutor Joan Shipley as defendants.

BuzzBy
17777
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BuzzBy 10/25/12 - 10:59 am
6
1
Headline
Unpublished

Contains
refuses, motion, withdraw and Johnson you just can't beat that!!!

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 10/25/12 - 11:08 am
4
1
nice!!
Unpublished

And 'fine' and '#winning'

just_trying_to_survive
1202
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just_trying_to_survive 10/25/12 - 07:44 pm
1
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Just curious

As to why this article isn't actually listed under news, but only in the comment section.

SWIBC
1731
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SWIBC 10/25/12 - 08:14 pm
1
3
because it would put Log

because it would put Log Cabin golden boy Hiland in the limelight as well as Judge Wood.

sandydee
262
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sandydee 10/25/12 - 08:24 pm
1
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"my client is innocent of all charges" Joe Don Whinningham

on 8/22/2012 is what he said and hoped to have a trial in the next several weeks.
Well then why play all these lawyer games? Really seems like a lot of delay and stalling going on. Why? Could it be maybe Mr.
Whinningham wants to wait to get to "hand pick" the next judge especially if that next judge is the rumored HG Foster. I sure bet the old boys would love to have HG Foster as the judge on the case. It appears that maybe Judge Wood doesn't play by the same insider rules and maybe that is why all this lawyer games.

Really if you review the articles all of this could have been avoided if Judge Clawson had done his job. But it not the first time he has refused to do his job. A quick review of the Log cabin websight shows he also sent a civil election commision case to Judge Clark. If you review the docket plan (that Mr. Whinningham complains of) it clearly states that Judge Clark is not to hear any civil cases. But neither HG Foster (judge clarks former boss) or Shifty Shaw complained then and what happened? They all protected melinda Reynolds.

So it all comes back to If Mr. Whinningham if he wants to prove his client innocent then withdraw his motion, go to jury trial and let the jury decide. Simple is simple does.

What do the lawyers say? if both the facts and law are against you then you argue like all get out?

liberte2003
34
Points
liberte2003 10/25/12 - 09:03 pm
1
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Judge Wood now Arresting Lawyers

I would like to know why the Log Cabin Democrat has not covered the story about attorney Teresa Bloodman. According to a Federal Suit filed yesterday by attorney Bloodman, Judge Wood, after insulting her and ridiculing her in front of her clients and the entire courtroom, had her arrested for "contempt" in complete defiance of the law and any Constitutional rights afforded every citizen. This judge's behavior is a manifestation of the court culture fostered by the administrative judge, and you all need to be reminded these are elected positions in which individuals are rarely challenged.

I invite the readers here to read the law suit, it is quite astounding and horrifying that this is being allowed to happen. What was done to Mr. Winngingham, a highly respected attorney and former deputy prosecutor, pales in comparison to this outrage. The entire bar should band together and demand the Supreme Court intervene and investigate the Faulkner County Circuit Court and demand the that the Administrative Law Judge answer for these two cases and several others about to become public.

Megan Reynolds
7849
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Megan Reynolds 10/25/12 - 10:14 pm
6
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Coverage

LCD staff writer Ricky Duke did cover the story today and it was posted to our homepage approximately a half hour prior to your authoring this comment.

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