Entry Category: Law

Anderson, William (Lynching of)

On July 8, 1906, an African American named William Anderson was hanged from a telephone pole just south of Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) for allegedly attacking Emily Crawford, a white woman, a few days earlier. According to the Arkansas Gazette, while there was a large Black population in the area, the “resident negroes…inclined to observe law and order and to give the white people as little trouble as possible.” Anderson, however, who was described as a “strange negro,” had recently arrived in the area; the Arkansas Democrat reported that he had come from Memphis. According to the Gazette, on Saturday, July 7, the seventeen-year-old Anderson attacked Emily Crawford, a “respected widow,” while she was alone at her home near …

Anthony, Joseph J. (Murder of)

The only recorded violent death on the floor of the Arkansas General Assembly occurred on December 4, 1837, in a knife brawl leaving state Representative Major Joseph J. Anthony of Randolph County dead at the hands of Speaker of the House Colonel John Wilson of Clark County, who was subsequently expelled and tried for murder. The Arkansas Gazette cited it as “another example of the barbarity of life in Arkansas,” lamenting how it “stained the history of the state.” The events have long been obscured by variants of the narrative. Speaker Wilson, who was presiding over an extraordinary session of the Arkansas General Assembly called by Governor James Conway to deal with a predicted tax surplus, was debating a wolf-scalp bill, sent …

Anti-Horse Thief Association

A number of vigilance groups were created in the United States in an effort to prevent and punish the theft of horses, but the most notable was the Anti-Horse Thief Association (AHTA), which was founded in Missouri in 1863. Operating like a fraternal lodge, complete with passwords and initiation ceremonies, the organization presented itself as a supplement to law enforcement. At the time the AHTA was established, horse thievery was considered a crime of the greatest severity. As historian Lynn Strawberry wrote in her master’s thesis on the AHTA: “Horses were a necessity of frontier life. They were needed for clearing forests, plowing ground and hauling freight as well as personal transportation. Horse thieves would be miles away before the …

Anti-miscegenation Laws

Anti-miscegenation laws were edicts that made it unlawful for African Americans and white people to marry or engage each other in intimate relationships. The measures first appeared in the United States in colonial times and had two functions. First, the laws helped maintain the racial caste system necessary for the expansion of slavery and the idea of white supremacy. If white masters took slave women as lovers and fathered children by them, anti-miscegenation laws ensured that the children remained slaves because the illicit nature of the relationships left biracial children with none of their father’s free status. Second, anti-miscegenation statutes gave white men greater power to control the sexual choices of white women. In the colonial period, white patriarchs used …

Antitrust Laws and Lawsuits (Progressive Era)

Antitrust laws and lawsuits against monopolistic corporations were major features of both state and national politics before World War I during the Progressive Era. Popular concern in Arkansas about corporate wrongdoing became part of third-party agrarian political agendas in the 1880s. The state’s Agricultural Wheel president, Lewis P. Featherstone, introduced an antitrust bill in the 1887 session of the Arkansas General Assembly aimed at the American Cotton Oil Trust. Antitrust measures in other states, especially in the Midwest, led the U.S. Congress to enact the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 to catch up with state lawmaking. However, an effective antitrust law was not adopted in Arkansas until 1899, only after agrarian concerns became shared by urban, middle-class citizens. During the …

Arcene, James

James Arcene, a Cherokee man, was sentenced to death for a crime he committed years before. While aspects of his short life are shrouded in legend, he was known to be sentenced to death after his conviction for a robbery and murder he had committed when he was approximately ten years old, making him, if this story is true, the youngest person on record to have committed a crime for which he later received the death penalty. Arcene’s fellow defendant was William Parchmeal. James Arcene is believed to have been born in 1862. Virtually nothing is known about his youth. The basic facts of the crime as established at the trial and afterward were comparatively straightforward, with it being determined …

Arkadelphia Executions of 1889

Three African American men—Dan Jones, Anderson Mitchell, and Willis Green—were hanged on March 15, 1889, in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for allegedly killing a Black preacher. Arthur (sometimes referred to as Otto) Horton owned a house near Curtis (Clark County), where he let an “old and feeble negro” named Wash Walker live as long as Walker’s wife cooked Horton’s meals. At some point, Dan Jones and Anderson Mitchell moved into the house and ate food without providing any, leading Horton to announce that he would only supply food for himself. Jones, Mitchell, and Green decided to take Horton and “thrash him until he returned to his former generous state.” Recruiting George Dandridge and Robert Bragg, two local Black men, to join …

Arkadelphia Lynching of 1879

aka: Lynching of Daniels Family
In late January 1879, Ben Daniels and two of his sons—who were accused of robbery, arson, and assault—were lynched in Arkadelphia (Clark County). There is some confusion as to the actual date of the lynching. A January 31 report in the Arkansas Gazette said only that it had happened several days previous. The Cincinnati Daily Star reported that it took place on Sunday night, which would have been January 26. The Cincinnati Enquirer, however, reported that the lynching occurred on Friday, January 24. At the time of the 1870 census (nine years before the incident), thirty-three-year-old Benjamin (Ben) Daniels was living in Manchester Township of Clark County with his wife, Betsy, and eight children. His older sons were Charles (thirteen …

Arkansas “Scottsboro” Case

aka: Bubbles Clayton and James X. Caruthers (Trial and Execution of)
aka: James X. Caruthers and Bubbles Clayton (Trial and Execution of)
The trial and conviction of African American farm laborers Bubbles Clayton and James X. Caruthers for the rape of a white woman, Virgie Terry, in Mississippi County drew national attention to the Arkansas criminal justice system and became widely known as the Arkansas “Scottsboro” Case. Clayton, age twenty-one, and Caruthers, age nineteen, were arrested at Blytheville (Mississippi County) in January 1935 and charged as suspects in the armed robberies of couples in parked cars. Their arrest followed an incident in which Sheriff Clarence Wilson was injured in an attempted robbery while in a parked car near the Blytheville country club. Taken from the county jail by authorities on pretense of protection from mob violence, the two men were beaten with …

Arkansas Bar Association

The Arkansas Bar Association, established in 1898, is a voluntary bar association with over 5,100 attorney members as of June 2007. For over a century, the association has been enhancing the lives of Arkansas citizens, the operation of the state’s judicial system, reform of state laws, and the professionalism of lawyers. Prior to 1898, there were efforts to form a state bar association, including a meeting of nineteen lawyers in 1837 to form a bar association for Arkansas lawyers, but none lasted. When the current association was founded in 1898, U. M. Rose was elected its first president. Rose also served as president of the American Bar Association in 1901, and he was later honored as one of the two …

Arkansas Blood Labeling Bill

aka: HB 385
On April 2, 1959, Governor Orval E. Faubus signed HB 385 (Blood Labeling Bill) into law, requiring blood banks to label the donor’s race. The bill was introduced by N. B. Murphy of Ashley County, who later called for the repeal of the bill in 1969. Faubus claimed the law would ease the minds of the “great majority” who feared transmission of sickle-cell anemia through blood transfusions. Despite thorough medical research stating that sickle-cell anemia cannot be spread through blood transfusions and knowing “it is hereditary, and can be transmitted from one person to another only by intermarriage which results in the birth of children,” Faubus and the “great majority” believed there was “always room for error” and that the …

Arkansas Cannon, Seizure of

aka: United States v. Six Boxes of Arms
This court case involved the seizure of a cannon in the North intended for a state in the South on the cusp of secession and, thereby, epitomized the political and military tensions that characterized the final months of sectional breakdown prior to the Civil War. The decision rendered in this case also established an important legal precedent in relation to lawful seizure of property and the retention of legal ownership with war on the horizon. On February 15, 1861, William J. Syms and Samuel R. Syms of the New York City munitions supply firm of W. J. Syms and Brother contracted with the State of Arkansas for an order of munitions to be delivered in two parts in early April. …

Arkansas City Executions of 1902

Lawrence Dunlap and David Jobe, both Black men, were hanged at Arkansas City (Desha County) on February 28, 1902, after being convicted of first-degree murder. The 1900 U.S. census shows Lawrence Dunlap, a farmer, living in Drew County’s Franklin Township with his wife, Maggie, and three children. His victim, day laborer Nathan Smith, twenty-three, was living in Randolph Township in Desha County. Newspapers reported that Dunlap and Smith were drinking together in Arkansas City and that Smith displayed a roll of cash. The two went to camp out for the night, and Smith fell asleep on the levee, awakening to find Dunlap rifling through his pockets. When Smith resisted, Dunlap shot him four times and fled. “The boy lived long …

Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993

aka: Act 962 of 1993
The Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA) was the first civil rights act in Arkansas covering discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, gender, or the presence of any sensory, physical, or mental disability. The passing of this act, Act 962 of 1993, was the culmination of the work of the Governors’ Task Force on Civil Rights, which was formed in 1991 by Governor Bill Clinton. The legislation was sponsored in the Arkansas Senate by Senator Bill Lewellen. In the early 1990s, most Arkansans reportedly did not feel that it was necessary to have a civil rights bill. However, Arkansas was one of only a few states at the time lacking such a law. Consensus was that the bill was passed …

Arkansas Court of Appeals

The Arkansas Court of Appeals (ACA) serves the state as its intermediate appellate court. For a large number of cases, however, it functions as the final court of review. Parties to lawsuits in Arkansas do not have a right to appeal beyond the Court of Appeals, and the Arkansas Supreme Court generally hears only appeals raising unique questions of law. Thus, for most cases in which the law is settled, the Court of Appeals serves as the parties’ only opportunity for review of lower court decisions. The ACA is composed of twelve judges and primarily hears appeals from Arkansas Circuit Courts and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. Created by constitutional amendment in 1978, the Court of Appeals was established to …

Arkansas Department of Corrections

The umbrella entity of the Arkansas Department of Corrections, created by Act 910 of 2019, is composed of over 6,000 employees within the following: the Division of Correction (formerly the Arkansas Department of Correction), the Division of Community Correction (formerly Arkansas Department of Community Correction), the Corrections School System (Arkansas Correctional School District and Riverside Vocational Technical School), and the Office of the Criminal Detention Facility Review Coordinator, along with the administrative functions of the Criminal Detention Facility Review Committees, Parole Board, Sentencing Commission; and State Council for the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision. The Division of Correction (ADC) enforces the court-mandated sentences for people convicted of crimes at a variety of prison facilities located in twelve counties across …

Arkansas Division of Community Correction (ADCC)

The Arkansas Division of Community Correction (ADCC) oversees the state’s non-traditional correction programs, such as probation and parole, as well as community correction centers that offer drug/alcohol treatment and vocational programs. ADCC’s mission is “To promote public safety and a crime-free lifestyle by providing cost-effective community-based sanctions, and enforcing state laws and court mandates in the supervision and treatment of adult offenders.” ADCC was originally named the Arkansas Department of Community Punishment, which was created by Acts 548 and 549 of 1993. The act noted that “the ever increasing numbers of offenders in traditional penitentiaries” brought “added fiscal pressures on state government” and thus sought to bring the cost down “through the use of community punishment programs and non-traditional facilities” …

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act

aka: Freedom of Information Act
aka: FOIA
The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), signed into law by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller on February 14, 1967, is generally considered one of the strongest and best models for open government by investigative reporters and others who research public records for various purposes. The intent of the FOIA is to keep government business and government records open and accessible to the people of Arkansas. The Arkansas FOIA has been called “the people’s law” in that it provides the citizens of Arkansas open access to the conduct of the public’s business at every level of government, as well as ready access to public records on file with a host of custodians for those records in county courthouses, city halls, public schools, …

Arkansas Highway Police

The Arkansas Highway Police is the oldest statewide law enforcement agency in Arkansas and serves as the law enforcement branch of the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The duties of the agency have changed over time, but the emphasis remains on protection of the state’s highway and transportation system. The Highway Police is overseen by an agency director with the rank of chief. The chief serves at the pleasure of the director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The Highway Police’s main headquarters are located in Little Rock (Pulaski County) next to the central office of the Department of Transportation. The Highway Police is divided into five districts, each of which is commanded by an officer with the rank of captain. …

Arkansas Law Review

The Arkansas Law Review is a student-edited law journal that publishes scholarly articles on state and national legal issues. Affiliated with the University of Arkansas (UA) School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County), the journal is published four times each year by the nonprofit Arkansas Law Review, Inc. Each issue contains articles authored by legal scholars or practicing attorneys, as well as student-authored comments and notes on recent legal developments. The Arkansas Law Review published its first issue in January 1947, replacing the University of Arkansas Law School Bulletin, which had been published intermittently since 1929. Dean Robert A. Leflar of the UA School of Law was instrumental in the establishment of the journal. From its inception until the late …

Arkansas Legislative Audit

Arkansas Legislative Audit (ALA) examines the books and records of state agencies and political subdivisions to report on their financial condition and compliance with law. Established in 1953 by the Arkansas General Assembly, ALA is an agency located within the legislative branch of Arkansas state government, reporting to the forty-four-member Legislative Joint Auditing Committee (LJAC), a legislative committee composed of both senators and state representatives. Originally, ALA was created to audit state agencies and institutions. In 1969, overriding Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s veto, the legislature enacted a law transferring authority to audit counties, municipalities, and school districts from the executive branch to ALA. ALA conducts over 1,000 engagements annually, including audits, special reports, and investigative reports. These engagements examine the state’s …

Arkansas Loan and Thrift

Arkansas Loan and Thrift Corporation (AL&T) was a hybrid bank that operated for three years outside state banking laws with the help of political connections in the 1960s before coming to a scandalous end. A U.S. district judge halted the operations and placed the company in receivership in March 1968, and a federal grand jury indicted three officers of the company, as well as a former Arkansas attorney general. AL&T became a symbol of the corruption and lethargy that were the products of Governor Orval Faubus’s twelve-year control of the statehouse and, in the opinion of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, the Democratic Party’s unfettered reign in government since Reconstruction. It was jokingly called “Arkansas Loan and Theft.” The grand jury indictment …

Arkansas Married Woman’s Property Law

Under the common law that prevailed in all American jurisdictions except Louisiana, once a woman married, all her property passed to her husband. During the nineteenth century, some of the American states began to chip away at what Judge Jno. R. Eakin styled “the old and barbarous common law doctrine.” Arkansas played a leading role in this development; in 1835, Arkansas Territory passed the first law in the nation bestowing on married women the right to keep property in their own names. Two factors influenced the law’s adoption. First, in western areas, men outnumbered women, thus giving the women who were there more power. Second, planters were interested in protecting the bequests made to their daughters from being squandered by …

Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal

The Arkansas prison blood scandal resulted from the state’s selling plasma extracted from prisoners at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). Corruption among the administrators of the prison blood program and poor supervision resulted in disease-tainted blood, often carrying hepatitis or HIV, knowingly being shipped to blood brokers, who in turn shipped it to Canada, Europe, and Asia. Revelation of the misdeeds and the healthcare crisis it created in Canada nearly brought down the Liberal Party government in 1997. In 1994, Arkansas became the last state to stop selling plasma extracted from prisoners. Arkansas’s prison blood program began in 1964 as a way for both prisoners and the prison system to make money. (Arkansas law forbids …

Arkansas State Crime Laboratory

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was established by Act 517 of 1977, Act 864 of 1979, and Act 45 of 1981. The laboratory offers services to state law enforcement agencies in forensic pathology, toxicology, physical evidence (serological and trace evidence), drug analysis, latent fingerprint identification, firearms and toolmarks, digital evidence, and DNA. The laboratory also participates with several federal agencies in the collection of data in the areas of DNA, through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS); latent fingerprints, though the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS); and firearms, through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). In 2019, the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was placed under the newly created umbrella agency the Arkansas Department of Public Safety (ADPS), along …

Arkansas State Police

A division within the umbrella agency of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety (ADPS), the Arkansas State Police is the state’s primary statewide law enforcement agency. Although it has had many duties since its inception, the primary functions of the agency remain criminal investigation, traffic safety, and highway patrol. As a state agency, the State Police is overseen by a director bearing the rank of colonel who serves at the pleasure of the governor. The State Police’s main headquarters are located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), with the highway patrol organized into twelve regional “troops,” each commanded by a captain, and the criminal investigation division organized into six regional “companies,” each commanded by a lieutenant. The creation of a centralized, …

Arkansas v. Corbit (1998)

There are three cases that may be designated as Arkansas v. Corbit. The case discussed here is the 1998 Arkansas Supreme Court case concerning Randy Corbit, who was arrested for the possession and sale of marijuana, and the subsequent property forfeitures that he faced. Although the case originally appeared insignificant, it ultimately set a groundbreaking new precedent for appeal structure. Randy Corbit, who lived in Phillips County, was under investigation by the First and Third Judicial Districts’ Drug Task Force and, specifically, by Michael Steele, who was a narcotics investigator. On the day of Corbit’s arrest, Steele sent two men, Christopher Jarrett and Edward Knapp, into the store where Corbit worked. These men were charged with the task of purchasing …