by Stan Morris
JONESBORO, Ark. — Attorney Mark Rees is suing the City of Jonesboro and Craighead County over the drunken, insane, or disorderly statute.
The lawsuit filed Friday in Craighead County Circuit Court, Western Division, Rees demands all who have been arrested, jailed, fined or incarcerated under the DID statute be refunded fines, costs, attorney’s fees and any other expenses associated with what Judge Ed Hill called a “public assistance statute” in an April 7, 2016 Writ of Prohibition that prohibited Craighead County District Court from levying fines and costs to individuals arrested under the statute.
Jonesboro City Attorney Carol Duncan had previously told The Jonesboro Sun a refund of the monies collected by the city might be in order, but she also could not speak to the funds received by the state.
Rees rejected this logic, stating Thursday those who were levied fines and costs under the statute received those penalties unlawfully. Rees said it was the responsibility of the entity that levied the unlawful penalties to refund what they caused.
Individuals had received fines in Craighead County District Court under the statute but had also been allowed to plead guilty to the DID statute. Some were even arrested on non-payment of fines for fines that should never have been issued in the first place, based on what Hill wrote in a deeply contrasting Writ of Prohibition.
“The statute allows an officer to render this assistance without the need for invoking the usual provisions of the criminal justice system,” Hill wrote. “It does not proscribe any conduct, nor does it prescribe any punishment.”
Hill said he issued the writ to be certain the way the DID statute had been used would never happen again in the lower court.
“The court further prohibits the assessment of any penalty, punishment, or fine, or the imposition of any term of incarceration, or other punishment from being imposed for any alleged violation of that statute,” Hill ordered.
Rees filed the suit representing Clifton Burcham and all other similarly situated persons. Since Rees is pursuing the case under the rules of illegal exaction, it functions like a class action suit for purposes of the plaintiffs.
Read the actual lawsuit filed here: