Laws and Court Cases

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Campaign Finance Laws

In the modern era, through a combination of legislation and initiated acts, the state of Arkansas has developed a system of campaign finance laws for state elections. While critics charge that the system has problematic holes within it that allow money to unduly influence policymakers’ decisions, it is a system that is now in the mainstream of American states and is generally strong in terms of the disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures. Such contributions and expenditures were completely unregulated in Arkansas until the mid-1970s, when an initial campaign finance law was passed (Act 788 of 1975). This came a year after the first major federal campaign finance legislation was passed following the Watergate scandal in which quid pro quo …

City of Hot Springs v. Creviston

The Arkansas Supreme Court upended fifty-two years of financial practice by Arkansas cities and counties and numerous decisions of the Supreme Court when it ruled on March 3, 1986, that the Arkansas Constitution required the state and local governments to get voters’ approval before issuing bonds for capital improvements or any other purpose. The decision, in a case styled City of Hot Springs v. Tom Creviston, stunned local governments and financial institutions and briefly halted the issuance of financial instruments called revenue bonds, which were debts that were to be repaid from revenues generated by the project rather than from taxes. But a constitutional amendment to lift the election requirement was hastily drafted, petitions placed it on the ballot, and …

Clinton v. Jones

The U.S. Supreme Court case Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997) had the immediate impact of allowing a civil suit filed against President Bill Clinton to proceed while he was in office. In fact, although the case arose from an alleged incident that occurred before Clinton assumed the presidency, his status as president was central to the arguments the Supreme Court had to address. Ultimately, the decision’s more far-reaching impact directly affected the presidency on multiple levels. First, the Court’s ruling both reinforced and extended the idea that the president is not above the law, a concept that had been at the heart of the legal issues surrounding the Watergate affair. In addition, statements made by Clinton in the …

Collins v. State

In 1972, with the Furman v. Georgia case, the U.S. Supreme Court suspended use of the death penalty throughout the nation because it found the capital punishment system to be unconstitutional due to arbitrary enforcement. The Furman decision allowed individual states to revise their capital punishment statutes in order to eliminate the subjectivity of the death penalty. Arkansas revised its statutes in March 1973, and in the 1977 Collins v. State case, the Arkansas Supreme Court defended these newly revised statutes. In 1974, Carl Albert Collins was convicted of the murder of John Welch, his employer. Collins first attacked Welch’s wife, Gertrude, and then shot Welch. Collins left both for dead, stole Welch’s wallet, and took his truck. Though John …

Consensual Guardianship

The legal matter of consensual guardianship deals with a parent who consents to allow another person to be the guardian of a child and later revokes that consent. This situation usually arises when a parent is temporarily unable to raise a child (perhaps because of illness, financial problems, or criminal issues) and allows a family member or friend to be guardian. Over the years, the legal system in Arkansas first favored the guardian in these situations, then came to favor the parent, then slightly turned back to favoring the guardian. Although the Uniform Probate Code (adopted in whole or in part by many states) expressly states that a parent may consent to a guardianship (§ 5-204), the Arkansas guardianship statutes …

Convent Inspection Act of 1915

aka: Act 130 of 1915
aka: Posey Act
The Convent Inspection Act was passed by the Arkansas General Assembly and signed by Governor George Washington Hays in March 1915. The act was not unique to Arkansas, as states such as Georgia and Florida had similar laws. The Arkansas law allowed for sheriffs and constables to inspect convents, hospitals, asylums, seminaries, and rectories on a regular basis. The purpose, as stated in one section, was “to afford every person within the confines of said institutions, the fullest opportunity to divulge the truth to their detention therein.” If twelve citizens petitioned local authorities, law enforcement could enter these facilities day or night without notice. Whatever the stated intention of the legislation, one writer in the Arkansas Gazette on February 17, …

Coronado Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America

aka: United Mine Workers of America v. Coronado Coal Co.
Coronado Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America refers here to two separate cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court during the tenure of Chief Justice William Howard Taft. Both arose from Arkansas’s Sebastian County Union War of 1914 and featured the same parties: the Coronado Coal Company and District No. 21, a local Arkansas branch of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The first case, United Mine Workers of America v. Coronado Coal Co. (1922), was an appeal that ruled in favor of the union. It overturned a lower court decision by the Court of Appeals that found the union in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act during the strike. The Supreme Court, however, found little evidence that …