JUDGE LEVIES A $10,000 SANCTION AGAINST THE CITY OF LITTLE ROCK AND ORDERS LITTLE ROCK CITY ATTORNEY TO ATTEND EDUCATIONAL SEMINAR
|SMART-ASS CITY ATTORNEY TOM CARPENTER ORDERED TO ATTEND SEMINAR ON CASE MANAGEMENT AND ETHICS|
The city of Little Rock has filed a notice of appeal of the $10,000 sanction and contempt-of-court citation issued against it by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox.
The notice was a formality that comes before City Attorney Tom Carpenter will file an official appeal with the Arkansas Supreme Court that will include briefs detailing his legal argument.
Carpenter stated that his argument will be the same as when he petitioned Fox to reconsider the sanction and argued against the judge holding the city in contempt.
"The appeal is about whether proper procedures and notice were provided. All the city has asked is that the court follow the rules. So, we are asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to determine whether the written rules should be followed, or whether they can be ignored," Carpenter said Wednesday.
Fox issued the $10,000 sanction on April 25 after approving a third motion for additional time for the city to prepare for trial in the case of Tiffany Malone v. City of Little Rock.
Malone, a former Little Rock police officer, is alleging gender discrimination and retaliation in her lawsuit against the city. The case was originally set to go to trial in May.
Fox expressed frustration that the trial had to be postponed, and said the city attorney handling the case -- LaTonya Austin -- wasn't prepared. Austin resigned the day of the fine under threats that she would be fired if she did not resign, she said.
Austin "made numerous statements on the record indicating she had not properly or professionally prepared the case for trial and that she had failed and refused to comply with the court's Scheduling Order," Fox wrote when issuing the fine.
Carpenter argued in court filings at the time that the city was prepared for trial and that the sanction was improper under Arkansas law.
He said the rule Fox cited when he issued the sanction -- Rule 11 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure -- is to punish an attorney, not a defendant. The city is the defendant in the case and was the entity Fox sanctioned.
In the event a judge does sanction a party to a lawsuit, certain procedures must be followed and Fox did not follow those guidelines, Carpenter said.
"The Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure provide limited grounds for the entry of a sanction against a party represented by counsel, and both of these instances mandate notice and an opportunity to respond within 14 days of such notice," Carpenter wrote.
He also said the rule requires the court to issue a show cause order and give notice so that the party has an opportunity to respond to the charges levied against it, which Fox didn't do.Carpenter added that Rule 11 "does not extend to failure to comply with a court's orders," which is what Fox alleged the city's attorney did by not following the scheduling order that set trial for early May.
It's way past time for City Manager Bruce Moore to ask Tommy Boy to "retire".