Craighead County seeks dismissal of DID lawsuit

By Stan Morris | NEA Report

JONESBORO, Ark. – Attorneys for Craighead County are looking to have dismissed the lawsuit demanding refunds of fines under the drunken, insane, or disorderly statute.

In the Motion to Dismiss, Craighead County, through attorneys from Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, P.A. in Little Rock, argues that the plaintiff’s case as an illegal exaction claim fails as a matter of law.

The motion goes on to say the plaintiff’s claim should be dismissed because none of the defendants named in this lawsuit imposed any exaction of any kind – illegal or otherwise – against the plaintiff.

The plaintiff mentioned is Clifton Burcham and all other people who have been fined and ordered to pay costs under statute 12-11-110, the drunken, insane, or disorderly statute.

For years, Craighead County District Judges Keith Blackman and Curt Huckaby instituted fines under the statute. However, after Legal Aid of Arkansas appealed a case to Craighead County Circuit Court earlier this year, Judge Victor Hill issued a Writ of Prohibition saying, amongst other things, the fining and imposing of costs under the statute was not within its prescribed authority.

The attorney representing the plaintiff’s in the suit against Craighead County and the City of Jonesboro is Mark Rees, of Rees Law Firm. He said the county was doing everything they could to not have to pay back “these poor DID folks.”

“People use the term frivolous lawsuits all the time,” Rees said. “But what you don’t hear is frivolous defenses. This is a frivolous defense at the taxpayers dime.”

In the legal answer to the plaintiff’s claims, the defense asserts a variety of affirmative defenses including sovereign immunity, counties being immune from “punitive damages,” justification, and plaintiffs waiving any claim by paying the fine and cost instead of appealing it to Circuit Court.

The lawsuit by the plaintiffs is asking for the refund of all costs and fines levied to those in Craighead County District Court for the last three years, which is the statute of limitations.

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