Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday summary

Head football coach Houston Nutt is responding to recent articles about his cell phone records, telling fans and critics in an open letter that nothing inappropriate occurred between him and Donna Bragg. He said text message records are "unavailable,” and that he had not sought other coaching jobs, despite phone records showing contact with people at schools with vacancies. He denies knowing about the infamous Teresa Prewitt email to Mitch Mustain earlier than previously reported.

Consortium.com has conducted examination of East Arkansas’ Interim Federal Prosecutor Tim Griffin’s previous record as a prosecutor, which reveals no indication that Griffin ever took a criminal case to trial either as a civilian or a military prosecutor. The Justice Department and White House sent information to Congress stressing the 38-year-old Griffin’s “significant experience as a federal prosecutor at both the Department of Justice and as a military prosecutor.” Republican senators then echoed those assessments of Griffin as a seasoned professional.

Three attorneys representing school districts challenging the state’s school funding have lauded the Legislature’s efforts this year to fix deficiencies, but an attorney for the Little Rock School District says lawmakers fell short on two fronts. The special masters listened to attorneys representing school districts and the attorney general’s office and asked questions in a nearly hour-long session at the state Supreme Court building.

It’s been almost two weeks since Gov. Mike Beebe made a broad public offer to help mediate the Little Rock School Board’s dispute over Superintendent Roy Brooks, but no such talks involving the governor have taken place.

The Conway School Board, grappling with a series of disciplinary issues, voted Tuesday night to halt a student drug-testing program next term and decided against reinstating corporal punishment.

A Lonoke County jury has convicted former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell of masterminding a criminal organization, as well as 22 of 28 supporting charges. His wife, Kelly Campbell, was acquitted of participating in the criminal enterprise, but jurors convicted her on 26 of 30 underlying crimes.

A convicted murderer who killed his ex-wife and now works as a trusty at the Governor’s Mansion is being recommended for clemency, the Arkansas Board of Parole announced Monday. Danny E. Verdict shot Marcella Kelley five times in the back during an argument in her Jonesboro home on Feb. 2, 1992. He then fled to California before being caught and brought back to Arkansas. He is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.

Gov. Mike Beebe has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties where crops were damaged by freezing temperatures earlier this month.

Former U.S. Rep. Tommy F. Robinson of Brinkley has been found guilty of criminal contempt and ordered to serve six months in jail, according to a Tuesday filing in U.S. bankruptcy court. “However, this sanction shall be suspended provided that Robinson refrain from interfering with the administration of these bankruptcy estates ever again in his life,” wrote U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James G. Mixon in a 32-page “order of contempt.”

President Bush will try to quell the Democrats’ attempt to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq at a meeting today with congressional leaders at the White House. The outcome of that meeting is important to Arkansas farms because the war supplemental bill at the center of the debate includes an add-on of about $4 billion in disaster aid for farmers.

The wife of Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel claims the state’s top legal officer filed for divorce in the wrong court, and she has asked that the proceedings be dismissed. Amanda McDaniel says in her response to the divorce that Mc-Daniel has resided in Little Rock since early 2006 and should have filed his divorce in Pulaski County rather than Craighead County.

Sherry Pruitt reports in the Jonesboro Sun that It's been more than nine years since the Westside Middle School shooters killed five and injured 10, but rampages like the one Monday at Virginia Tech open up old wounds. "It brings back those feelings and emotions we had felt. It's something. I don't even know ...," said Connie Tolbert, administrative secretary at the Westside School District, who had trouble even voicing her feelings about what was described as the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.

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