Laws and Court Cases

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Entries - Entry Category: Laws and Court Cases - Starting with F

Featherstone v. Cate

In the Arkansas election of 1888, Agricultural Wheel members and other groups formed the Union Labor Party and allied with the Republicans to offer a serious challenge to the Democrats. In 1889, the Featherstone v. Cate congressional hearings resulted from allegations of election fraud in the race for U.S. representative from Arkansas’s First Congressional District, a district comprising seventeen eastern counties including Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Lee, Phillips, and St. Francis. In 1888, the race for first district representative pitted Independent candidate Lewis P. Featherstone of Forrest City (St. Francis County) against Democratic judge William Henderson Cate of Jonesboro (Craighead County). Initially, the election results showed Cate the winner with 15,576 votes to Featherstone’s 14,238. In late November 1888, Featherstone, alleging fraud in Crittenden, Cross, Lee, …

Finney v. Hutto

aka: Hutto v. Finney
In this series of landmark court cases, prisoners at the Cummins Farm and Tucker Intermediate Reformatory units of the Arkansas prison system continued to challenge their conditions of confinement, several years after Chief Judge J. Smith Henley of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas declared in Holt v. Sarver I (1969) and Holt v. Sarver II (1970) that confinement in the prisons constituted cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments. Judge Henley called the conditions that prisoners faced “a dark and evil world completely alien to the free world.” The prisoners were represented by attorneys Jack Holt Jr. and Philip Kaplan of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Henley’s original decision ordered the Arkansas Department of Correction to remedy the …

Fort Smith Sedition Trial of 1988

For seven weeks beginning on February 16, 1988, Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was the site of a major trial in which a twelve-person jury sought to determine the guilt or innocence of fourteen right-wing radicals who were charged with a variety of crimes, most prominently conspiracy to engage in sedition. After hearing from a total of almost 200 witnesses, the jury found none of the defendants guilty. In the almost two-month-long proceeding, federal prosecutors presented evidence intended to prove that ten of the defendants had conspired and plotted to overthrow the federal government while also asserting that the others were guilty of trying to kill a federal judge and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent. According to the scenario …

Freedom Suits

In the freedom lawsuits initiated before the Civil War, enslaved people brought suit against enslavers, claiming they were entitled to their freedom. The legal basis for the freedom suits varied. Claims were usually based on the enslaved individual having descended from free ancestors or having been the resident of a free state or territory, a situation that could have nullified their enslavement. However, such suits also arose when a group of enslaved people believed their owner had freed them—usually in a will—and they filed suit to ensure the master’s heirs upheld the legal directive. Freedom suits were usually brought by men, but women also undertook such suits on their own behalf, as well as their children’s, given that the legal …