Entries - Entry Category: Law - Starting with R

Race Riots

A race riot is any prolonged form of mob-related civil disorder in which race plays a key role. The term is most often associated with mob violence by or against a minority group. The motivations for such violence can vary significantly, and once properly defined, the difference between collective violence and riot is somewhat arbitrary. For instance, many lynchings targeting African Americans are considered race riots, as they involved large numbers of whites and were the fatal culmination of existing racial tensions. The 1927 lynching of John Carter in Little Rock (Pulaski County), with the slaying of a white girl as a catalyst, involved a prolonged assault against the city’s black community and is often considered a riot. However, other …

Raney v. Board of Education

aka: Arthur Lee Raney v. Board of Education of the Gould School District
Raney v. Board of Education, a lawsuit originating in Gould (Lincoln County), was one of three cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April and May 1968 that brought an end to so-called “freedom of choice” school desegregation plans that had gained traction in the 1960s. In the 1964–65 school year, ten years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, Gould schools were still totally segregated. The district covered an area of eighty square miles and contained 3,000 residents. Of these, 1,800 were black and 1,200 were white. Since Gould was the only town in the predominantly rural county, many of the district’s students attended school there. Gould maintained two segregated combined elementary and high …

Rector, Elias

Elias Rector was appointed U.S. marshal for the Territory of Arkansas later served as superintendent of Indian Affairs. During the Civil War, he sought to make treaties with Native American tribes on behalf of the Confederacy. Rector was the subject of the poem “The Fine Arkansas Gentleman, Close to the Choctaw Line,” written by his friend Albert Pike. Elias Rector was born on September 28, 1802, in Fauquier County, Virginia. He was the youngest of nine sons born to Wharton Rector and Mary Vance Rector, who was a native of North Carolina. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Illinois, where Elias Rector spent the early part of his youth. The family relocated again, this time to St. Louis, …

Rector, Henry Massie

Henry Massie Rector was the state’s sixth governor. He was part of Arkansas’s political dynasty during the antebellum period, but he was not always comfortable in that role and played a part in its downfall. Henry Rector was born on May 1, 1816, at Fontaine’s Ferry near Louisville, Kentucky, to Elias Rector and Fannie Bardell Thurston. He was the only one of their children to survive to maturity. Elias Rector, one of the numerous Rectors who worked as deputy surveyors under William Rector, the surveyor-general for Illinois and Missouri, served in the Missouri legislature in 1820 and as postmaster of St. Louis, Missouri. He also surveyed in Arkansas and acquired, among other speculations, a claim to the site of the …

Rector, Rickey Ray (Execution of)

Rickey (or Ricky) Ray Rector was the third death row inmate to be executed in Arkansas after the reinstatement of capital punishment in the state in 1990. He was executed despite concerns over his ability to understand the difference between life and death or the consequences of his actions. On March 22, 1981, Rector entered Tommy’s Old Fashioned Home-style Restaurant in Conway (Faulkner County), where he had previously been denied entrance to a private party. Rector fired several shots, killing Arthur Criswell and wounding two others. Two days later, Rector entered his mother’s home while the police were there questioning his mother and sister. Rector shot and killed Robert Martin, a Conway police officer, before running outside and shooting himself …

Reeves, Bass

Arkansas native Bass Reeves was one of the first black lawmen west of the Mississippi River. As one of the most respected lawmen working in Indian Territory, he achieved legendary status for the number of criminals he captured. Bass Reeves was born a slave in Crawford County in July 1838. His owners, the William S. Reeves family, moved to Grayson County, Texas, in 1846. During the Civil War, Bass became a fugitive slave and found refuge in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma) amongst the Creek and Seminole Indians. Reeves is believed to have served with the irregular or regular Union Indians that fought in Indian Territory during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Reeves settled in Van Buren (Crawford County) …

Revenue Stabilization Act

aka: Act 311 of 1945
The Revenue Stabilization Act is an act of the Arkansas General Assembly that categorizes and prioritizes spending for the operation of state government. The act establishes a formula by which to perform an orderly monthly distribution of revenues. The original act eliminated more than 100 special funds and substituted a single general fund from which appropriations are funded. It also provided for paying off all non-highway-related bond indebtedness. The act is revised each legislative session to adapt to economic cycles, revenue forecasts, and program priorities. While Amendments 19 and 20 to the Arkansas Constitution, also known as the “Futrell Amendments,” sharply curtailed the ability of state government to become indebted, the problems of inflexibility and inefficiency in state finances remained …

Reynolds, Dan (Lynching of)

In late December 1888, Dan Reynolds, an African American, was beaten and left for dead near Coffee Creek (Phillips County) by nine other African-American men who apparently disapproved of his relationship with a local black woman. The Arkansas Gazette referred to this incident as “one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed in this or any other country.” Coffee Creek is located in Big Creek Township, and Dan Reynolds had been living there for almost twenty years. He is listed in the 1870 census as a farm laborer, living with his wife, Vester (or Vesta) who was thirty-nine. By 1880, they had a ten-year-old daughter named Eliza. According to a report published in the Arkansas Gazette on January 15, 1889, …

Rhodes, Richard (Hanging of)

Few people survive a hanging, but Dr. Richard Rhodes—a plantation owner in Dallas County, living just south of present-day Sheridan (Grant County)—may have survived two. Richard Clinton Rhodes was born in North Carolina in 1801 to a prominent family. He received medical training in Europe and then opened a practice in Robeson County, North Carolina. There, he invested in land and quickly became a rich plantation owner with nearly 200 slaves. Rhodes married Susan Davis Russell when she was sixteen and he was forty-six. The Rhodes family’s oral history says that while practicing medicine in North Carolina, Rhodes delivered Susan as a newborn. The Russell family could not afford to pay Rhodes’s medical fee, so the baby girl was offered …

Rhoton, Lewis Nathan

Lewis Nathan Rhoton was a Little Rock lawyer who, as Sixth District prosecuting attorney (covering Pulaski and Perry counties) from 1904 to 1908, exposed the Boodle Scandal in the spring 1905 session of the Arkansas General Assembly (“boodle” is a slang term meaning bribe money). His actions in fighting corruption played an important role in the rise of Progressivism in the state. President Theodore Roosevelt, while visiting Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 25, 1905, congratulated him for “invaluable service to the state and nation” in calling corrupt public officials to account. Lewis Rhoton was born on May 13, 1868, to Franklin Rhoton and Susannah Garrett Rhoton, in Henry County, Indiana. An outstanding student, Rhoton received his higher education from …

Ricks, G. W. and Moses (Lynching of)

In June 1898, prosperous African-American farmer G. W. Ricks and his son, Rev. Moses Ricks, were lynched in southern Monroe County for the alleged assault of a white farmer’s wife. According to historian Terence Finegan, whose A Deed so Accursed is a study of lynching in South Carolina and Mississippi, prosperous African Americans were occasionally lynched because their success threatened the notion of white superiority. Census information both illuminates and confuses the story. In 1870, there was a black farmer named Jim Ricks living in Monroe County’s Duncan Township. He was twenty-seven years old, and living with him were his wife, Miriam, and several other family members, all of them too old to be the Rickses’ children. Ricks was a …

Rideout, Conrad Alfred

Conrad Alfred Rideout was an African-American man whose travels and controversial activities stretched from Florida and Arkansas to Seattle, Washington, to Africa and then back to the United States. His identity seemed to balance perilously on the border between activist and con man. With Rideout having left behind a trail of unverifiable claims and a legacy of unfulfilled hopes, the effort to chronicle his life becomes a lesson in separating fact from fiction. Little is known about Rideout’s early years. According to one source, he was born in Ohio, and he apparently stayed in the Midwest through college, as he is alternately reported to be a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor or the non-existent University of …

Right to Work Law

aka: Amendment 34
In November 1944, Arkansas and Florida became the first two states to enact what are commonly known as “Right to Work” measures. These laws prohibit employers and employee-chosen unions from agreeing to contracts that require employees to join the union as a condition of employment. Thus, rather than simply granting an individual the right to work, such laws regulate the collective bargaining process to the detriment of unions. The effort to enact Right to Work laws originated on Labor Day in 1941, when Dallas Morning News editorial writer William Ruggles called for the passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting contracts that required employees to become union members. Soon thereafter, Vance Muse, founder of the Christian American Association, …

Ringo, Daniel

Daniel Ringo was the first chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and helped to develop the foundation for the state’s legal system. Daniel Ringo was born on October 27, 1803, in Cross Plains, Kentucky, but little else is known about his life prior to his arrival in Arkansas. Ringo came to Arkansas in 1820, settling first in Batesville (Independence County) and then moving on to Clark County, where he served as a deputy clerk of the district court. He was elected clerk in 1825 and served most of three terms. He studied the law throughout this time and was admitted to the bar in 1830, at which time he moved to Hempstead County, where he established a partnership with …

Rison et al. v. Farr

The Arkansas Supreme Court decision in Rison et al. v. Farr overturned the “Iron-Clad” oath that had been passed by the 1864 session of the Union legislature in order to prevent ex-Confederates from voting. Since the case precipitated Radical Reconstruction, probably the most controversial period in Arkansas history, Rison et al. v. Farr stands as one of the most important decisions ever made at the state Supreme Court level. In 1864, Unionists, now in control of Little Rock (Pulaski County), wrote a new constitution for Arkansas. Section 2 of Article 4 provided that “every free white male citizen of the United States” aged twenty-one or over and a resident for six months “shall be deemed a qualified elector.” However, the …

Roaf, Andree Yvonne Layton

Andree Yvonne Layton Roaf was an Arkansas attorney and jurist. A 1996 inductee to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, Roaf distinguished herself in the fields of biology, law, and community service. Andree Layton was born on March 31, 1941, in Nashville, Tennessee. The daughter of William W. Layton, a government official, and Phoebe A. Layton, an educator, she grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and in White Hall and Muskegon Heights, Michigan. She had two sisters. She graduated from high school in Muskegon in 1958. Originally intending to pursue a career in the biological sciences, she attended Michigan State University and received a BS in zoology in 1962. While an undergraduate, she met, and subsequently married in July 1963, another …

Robertson, Frank (Lynching of)

There is much confusion about the lynching of alleged arsonist Frank Robertson, which occurred in late March 1903. Newspapers from the time give a variety of dates for the event, ranging from March 26 to March 28. Many of the reports were datelined Lewisville (Lafayette County), although other newspapers called it New Louisville or New Lewisville; this would be the present-day Lafayette County seat of Lewisville, which was referred to as “New Lewisville” after the town moved closer to the railroad line in the late nineteenth century. Adding to the confusion, when the U.S. Congress issued an apology in 2005 for its historical inaction on lynching, its report said that Robertson’s lynching occurred on March 27 just across the Louisiana–Arkansas …

Robinson, Willis (Lynching of)

On December 18, 1918, an African-American man named Willis Robinson was hanged by a mob in Newport (Jackson County) for allegedly murdering police officer Charles Williams and wounding Chief of Police Gus C. Martin. Reports indicate that Robinson was a resident of Little Rock (Pulaski County), and the 1910 census listed nineteen-year-old Willis W. Robinson as living in Owen Township with his parents, Charley and Martha Robinson. According to newspaper reports, by December 1918, Robinson, who was described by the Arkansas Democrat as “a very large black negro, weighing about 240 pounds,” was living with his wife at 1003 Jones Street in Little Rock. Robinson was reportedly well known to local authorities. In defiance of a 1917 Arkansas statute forbidding …

Rogers, John Henry

John Henry Rogers was a Civil War Confederate hero, a lawyer in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), a four-term Congressman, and a United States District Court judge for the Western District of Arkansas. John Rogers was born on October 9, 1845, in Bertie County, North Carolina. His father, Absolom Rogers was a successful planter and slaveholder. In 1861, when Rogers was fifteen years old, he became the drillmaster for a company of home guards, and in March 1862, he was mustered into Company H, Ninth Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers, as a private soldier. Rogers served in the same regiment until it was surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 1, 1865. He saw a considerable amount of action and was twice wounded, …

Rolling Stones, Arrest of the

The July 5, 1975, lunch stop and subsequent arrest of Rolling Stones guitarists Ron Wood and Keith Richards in Fordyce (Dallas County) is fabled in the town, and the incident became a footnote in the police record of the English rock and roll band. The quintet had cultivated an outlaw image since its early 1960s inception. According to Arkansas native Bill Carter, the Rolling Stones’ attorney from 1973 to 1990, everywhere the Stones went in 1975, it was a challenge for authorities. Riot squads and narcotics units were common during the group’s twenty-eight-city, $13 million-grossing tour. On July 4, the Stones played Memphis, Tennessee. Richards and new member Wood decided to sightsee and drive with two others to their July …

Rose Law Firm

Rose Law Firm of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi River. The firm traces its origins to November 1, 1820, before Arkansas was a state, when Robert Crittenden, first secretary and acting governor of Arkansas Territory, and Chester Ashley, a land speculator, entered into a “Partnership in the Practice of Law.” This hand-inked agreement remains on display at the firm. Crittenden and Ashley ultimately ended their partnership over political issues, but the firm continued its existence when Ashley partnered with George C. Watkins in 1837. Ashley and Watkins practiced law together until Ashley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1844. In 1852, Watkins became the chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, …

Rose, Uriah Milton

Uriah Milton Rose was a nationally prominent attorney who practiced in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for more than forty years at what is now known as the Rose Law Firm. He was a founder and president of both the Arkansas Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as an ambassador for the United States to the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. U. M. Rose was born on March 5, 1834, in Bradfordsville, Kentucky, to Nancy and Joseph Rose. His father was a physician. He was his parents’ third son and had two half-siblings from his father’s first marriage to a Miss Armstrong from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rose’s mother died in 1848, and …

Roy, Elsijane Trimble

Elsijane Trimble Roy was Arkansas’s first woman circuit judge, the first woman on the Arkansas Supreme Court, the first woman appointed to an Arkansas federal judgeship, the first woman federal judge in the Eighth Circuit, and the first Arkansas woman to follow her father as a federal judge. Born on April 2, 1916, in Lonoke (Lonoke County), Elsijane Trimble was one of five children of Judge Thomas Clark Trimble III and Elsie Walls. Her father and grandfather were both attorneys in a law practice with Senator Joseph T. Robinson, and her father later became a federal judge. Trimble grew up in Lonoke attending local schools and was a star basketball player her four years at Lonoke High School, graduating in …

Ruled by the Whip

Ruled by the Whip: Hell behind Bars in America’s Devil’s Island, the Arkansas Penitentiary is a 1958 self-published autobiographical account written by Dale Woodcock. One of the few printed accounts by an Arkansas prisoner, the book chronicles Woodcock’s experiences at Cummins prison farm in the 1950s. While the book garnered little attention when it was written, its tales of violence, corruption, and brutality corroborated abuses documented later during the governorship of Winthrop Rockefeller, who began work to reform the prisons. The author was born Charles Dale Woodcock on March 21, 1925, in Rogers (Benton County). He was the son of Henry Lee Woodcock (1900–1928) and Lillie Dell “Honey” Townsend Woodcock (1907–1988), both of whom were Arkansas natives. After the death …

Russ, Carnell (Killing of)

The killing of African American Carnell Russ by white Star City (Lincoln County) police officer Charles Lee Ratliff on May 31, 1971, highlights many matters surrounding race, civil rights, and law enforcement in Arkansas at the time. The case involved hostile and aggressive white policing, skewed all-white or mostly white juries, the lack of black police officers and black jurors in areas heavily populated by black residents, judges with questionable impartiality, unconcerned federal agencies, and the procedural intricacies and bureaucracy of the criminal justice system. Importantly, it led to a change in federal policy over how civil rights cases would be handled in the future. Carnell Russ was pulled over by state trooper Jerry Green at around 5:45 p.m. on …