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Little Rock City attorney Tom Carpenter has once again rubbed Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox the wrong way.

Readers will recall the post we made back in June in which we detailed problems Judge Fox had with one of Carpenter's deputies,  Latonya Austin.

In review... back in April, Fox fined the city of Little Rock $10,000 for not being prepared to go forward on a trial in a 2-year-old lawsuit brought by a fired police officer who is suing over her termination.

When city officials did not pay the money by the deadline set by Fox or post the bond required for an appeal, the judge ordered the city manager to court to explain why his ruling had neither been followed nor appealed. 

Fox also ordered Carpenter to undergo six hours of training in managing a law office.

Fox said Carpenter could not justify the trial delays with the explanation that only one of his deputies was assigned to the case.

The issues in that case are complex enough to require the city assign two lawyers to handle it, the judge said.
Carpenter has appealed Fox's sanctions to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Which brings us to the present situation.

Fox directed the parties to participate in mediation sessions. Carpenter sent two deputy city attorneys, Amy Beckman Fields and Alex Betton, who were not empowered with negotiating authority.  Bad move Tommy boy.

Fox told news media that Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter regularly disregards court orders so the mayor and city manager must participate in mediation sessions to try and resolve a lawsuit against the city. 

Carpenter has an ever-increasing track record of "flouting or avoiding" orders, Judge Fox added.

The judge's ruling comes in response to the complaint of an attorney suing Little Rock that the city is refusing to abide by Fox's orders to attempt mediation as a tactic to "grind [my client] into dust, using its superior resources."

The judge said he is considering requiring City Manager Bruce Moore and Mayor Mark Stodola to attend mediation proceedings in every lawsuit against the city that comes before his court.

Moore said he would do whatever the judge wanted, and Stodola, a former elected prosecutor who's been a lawyer since 1974, said he would be pleased to represent the city in litigation meetings.

Fox also said he might relent on requiring the officials' attendance if the city guarantees to send a representative with negotiating authority to participate in the mediation.

Both sides are ordered to attempt arbitration within a month or face sanctions. For the plaintiff, those penalties could include having the lawsuit dismissed, and for the city, its defense could be annulled in part or whole by the judge.

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