Wells Law Firm Makes History Its Second Day of Business by Becoming First Law Firm in Arkansas to Accept Bitcoin

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I am happy to say that Wells Law Firm became the first law firm to register and be approved for accepting Bitcoin for its services and (to my knowledge) the first law firm in the state (and one of the first in the nation) to offer services related to Bitcoin and crypto currency transactions for businesses. I am sorry to say that we are not currently accepting Dogecoin, although I’m not ruling it out forever.

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When you’re a lawyer “making history” can be really good or really bad. I am proud to say that today my firm makes history in a good way by being the first law firm in Arkansas to accept payment in Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

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We are the second merchant in the entire state to accept it, the first being Quain Percussion.

But, accepting Bitcoins as a payment option isn’t our only cryptocurrency service: we can also set up trust accounts for bit coins, aid in contract drafting, review, and negotiation for business transactions using Bitcoins, and assist in other related crypto currency transactions. To my knowledge, we are the first firm in the state focusing on this area for businesses.

Part of my pledge to myself in opening my own firm was to refuse to do law business as usual and I’m proud that we have broken new ground from the very beginning.  I want to use every possible technological avenue to provide affordable services to Arkansans and Arkansas businesses.

Anders Briefs: The Genius Behind Simply Telling the Court How Bad Your Client’s Case Really Is

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We must all be candid with the courts, this we know. But, how often is it that you get to tell an appellate court just how completely horrible a client’s position really is? Never, that’s how often. Unless…you’ve got a no-merit brief up your sleeve.

The Anders Brief

But, wait…how is that fair to an appellant? Even if you an appeal would be frivolous, it still seems kind of funny to just put it out there like that. BUT! That’s the genius of the Ander’s/no-merit brief. The client is protected in multiple layers, the attorney does not have to argue a frivolous appeal, and a little money gets saved along the way. Genius.

A no merit brief, commonly called an Anders brief, is definitely something I didn’t learn about in law school. The Anders moniker comes as a result of  Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), where an attorney filed a motion to withdraw from the court-appointed criminal appeal, based on his belief that any grounds for appeal were frivolous. The Supreme Court ruled that any such motion must be accompanied by a brief outlining the case and any potential (albeit possibly frivolous) grounds for appeal, that the appellate court must independently review the case, and that a defendant must be allowed the right to appeal either pro se or by through other counsel. In Arkansas, criminal briefs are also guided by Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 4-3(k).

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Basically, here’s how it works:

  • An indigent Appellant is appointed counsel. Case is tried in trial court.
  • Appellant tells counsel he wants to appeal.
  • Counsel files notice of appeal. Trial counsel may proceed as appellate counsel or new appellate counsel (usually) is appointed.
  • Counsel petitions for Transcript on Appeal (for State to cover costs of preparing the transcript).
  • Court reporter prepares record (Note: a two-day trial costs about $2,000; supplemental hearing transcript typically runs $300-$1000, but don’t think that court reporter doesn’t work for every cent of it…).
  • Counsel reviews record, determines any appeal would be based on frivolous grounds. (“The test for filing a no merit brief is not whether or not there is reversible error, but whether an appeal would be wholly frivolous.” Tucker v. State, 47 Ark.App. 96, 885 S.W.2d 904 (1994).
  • Counsel files a motion to withdraw and an Anders brief, which outlines the case and any possible grounds for appeal, even if potentially frivolous. You can read an example of a recent Anders brief here.
  • Appellant is given a copy of the motion and brief.
  • Appellant is notified of his right to file pro se points. You can read the pro se points in our example case here.
  • If he accepts, he files his own appeal. State can respond. You can read the State’s reply brief in our example case here.
  • Court of Appeals must review the record for potential error.
  • If the Court of Appeals determines that there is no merit to the appeal, it may issue a memorandum opinion relieving counsel and affirming lower court’s judgment. In re Memorandum Opinion, 16 Ark.App. 301, 700 S.W.2d 63 (1985).
  • Appellate attorney files for fee. In our example case, it was $1,800. Wait, he didn’t take the appeal because he thought it was frivolous! Yeah, but he still had to review the entire record (they are quite large, if you’ve never seen one) and make determinations about places of possible error, and write a brief about the same. That’s a lot of work.

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Down the Devil’s Tobaggan Slide We Go!

The Upcoming Booze Ballot

Unless I remember to buy my booze Monday through Saturday, the guvmint says I can’t make my Guiness Stew on Sunday. Why does the guvmint hate my Guiness stew (recipe included below)? I can buy my booze M-Sat. because I live in Pulaski County, but what if I lived in Cleburne county? Nope. And none of the counties surrounding Cleburne sell alcohol either.

But, that could all change soon with a new ballot proposal by attorney David Couch (LR) to amend the Arkansas constitution, which would allow the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages everywhere in Arkansas. That means no more local dry jurisdictions. Instead, regulation would be left to the legislature (who couldn’t prohibit it).

The Log Cabin reports that Let Arkansas Decide, the committee behind the statewide “wet” ballot initiative, has turned in almost 85,000 signatures. To put the constitutional amendment that would end “dry” counties in Arkansas to the voters on the November ballot, at least 78,133 of the signatures have to be verified.

Those Against:

  1. The usual religious suspects leftover from 1953.
  2. Maybe beer distributors because limits the amount of stops they have to make. Make the customers go to the wet counties means fewer drop offs.
  3. Liquor store owners (Sunday sales). You get a day off and no competitors steal your sales. Same purchase volume in 6 days as there would be in 7.

Pushing For the Ballot Proposal:

The retail industry, particularly Wal-Mart.

Tipsy  Timeline:

  • 1836 Arkansas obtains Statehood.
  • 1837 Arkansas bans all business on Sundays, which is known as a “Blue Law.”
  • 1920 Prohibition begins
  • 1933 Prohibition ends
  • 1982 I was born. Also, the Blue Law was repealed, but the Code still provided that a city board or council could regulate the operation of businesses within their city on Sunday.
  • 1987 Arkansas passed laws about selling alcohol on Sundays statewide.

So here we are: it’s the Year of Our Lord 2014 and you can’t buy alcohol from a liquor store in a wet county:

  1. On a Sunday, unless your county/city has voted to allow it, and then only from 10:00am to midnight.
  2. On a weekday between 1:00 am and 7:00 am.

You can’t buy alcohol from a liquor store in a dry county at all.

Restaurant Rules

Restaurants can serve alcohol on Sundays in most cases, and some microbreweries are allowed to sell growlers. Alcohol is not sold on Christmas Day in Arkansas. Arkansas has a tiered alcohol licensing system. Class A licenses allow alcohol service from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Class B licenses allow alcohol service from 10 a.m. until 5 a.m. A restaurant license allows alcohol service until 1 a.m.

Dry County v. Dry City

Arkansas has 75 counties, and about half are dry.

A city can elect to go dry in a wet county, but  it can’t elect to go wet in a dry county. This is even more complicated if the county has two county seats, where one district may elect to go wet and the other dry (like Sebastian and Logan Counties).

HOW DRY WE ARE: Shaded counties are 'wet.'

 

Crimes Against Photoshop

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It’s not very often that I hear someone say: “Go look at the comments on the local news Facebook page,” so when I do, I go look!

Glad I looked at last Friday’s Facebook post at THV 11!

Timothy Buffington is a convict missing from ADC. He has served the majority of his term, but apparently decided to break out with only a few years left. I read somewhere that he may have a terminal illness, but he’s an escapee and the public has been warned.

The photo originally sent out:

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It’s been two weeks though, so someone at ADC got fancy with photoshop and sent out this:

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The reaction was as expected, but yielded some truly hilarious original artwork.

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Or maybe disguised as an animal?

 

 

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And Finally:

 

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Thanks to all the law enforcement who have been tirelessly looking for this guy and thanks to the commenters who kept me awake laughing way too long last night!

Citizen’s Arrest, Citizen’s Arrest!

Have you ever made a citizen’s arrest or know someone who has?

Here are some examples from the internet of people who have: 

I was walking up the road on my way home, and a little bit up ahead I saw a guy step out and grab a womans handbag and start to run away. I started chasing after him, as well as two other guys that saw it. We were all pretty much running from different directions. The guy took off down the road with us in pursuit, and we managed to catch him, and took the bag off him. Suddenly he twisted free and ran away down the road again. So we chased him again. We ended up chasing him for 5 blocks, down the middle of a 4 lane major road, during rushhour, and finally caught him again and made sure he couldnt get free. Luckily an off-duty policeman had witnessed the chase and turned around to help us.

And from the merchant perspective: 

I do it all the time. I work in Loss Prevention. The only reason stores are allowed to have LP departments is because just about every city and state has laws that allow people to make a “citizen’s arrest” of someone who has stolen from them. Where I live, if someone steals from you, whether you are a store or a private citizen, you have a legal right to detain them until police can arrive. It is the same in most of the U.S. And don’t believe that BS about store LP not being allowed to touch you. Many companies have policies that try to avoid physical detainment of shoplifters, but most laws actually authorize reasonable physical force when detaining a thief.

But… Why can you do it? When can you do it? Where can you do it?

I. The Common Law

At common law, a private person can:
  • arrest
  • without warrant
  • for a felony or
  • breach of the peace 
  • committed in his or her presence.

A. “In presence” requirement

“In presence” means that the  arrestor actually saw acts that made it pretty clear cut that a crime was either about to happen, was happening, or was just ending. Under some statutes, if the felony is actually committed in the presence of a private person, they can arrest any person they have reasonable ground to believe guilty.

B. Reasonable Belief

Actual knowledge of the commission of the felony is not required to authorize a valid citizen’s arrest, as all that is required is reasonable grounds to believe that: (1) a felony had been committed, and (2) that the person arrested was the responsible agent.

C. Misdemeanor Citizen’s Arrests

In some jurisdictions, a private person may arrest for any misdemeanor committed in his or her presence. But, under the common-law rule, which is codified in some states, such arrests can be made only for a misdemeanor constituting a breach of the peace. A private person’s right to arrest for an affray or breach of the peace exists only while it is continuing, or immediately after it has been committed, or while there is a continuing danger of its renewal, and does not include the right to pursue and arrest for the purpose of insuring the apprehension or future trial of the offender. A private citizen cannot arrest without a warrant for a misdemeanor previously committed, unless pursuit for the purpose of arrest is begun immediately.
Arkansas does not provide for misdemeanor citizen arrests, with a couple of exceptions.

II. Current Arkansas Statutory Law

Arkansas has codified the common law: 

Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 4.1(b) provides in pertinent part: A private person may make an arrest where he has reasonable grounds for believing that the person arrested has committed a felony.

Additionally, Arkansas recognizes motel keepers rights: “There was common-law right for motel manager, although private citizen, to detain traveler suspected of theft.” Partin v. Meyer, 1982, 277 Ark. 54, 639 S.W.2d 342

III. What if Someone Puts You Under a Citizen’s Arrest Unlawfully? 

The English common-law right to resist an unlawful arrest became established at least by 1710, and during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it became the established rule in the United States as well. In Bad Elk v United States (1900) 177 US 529, 44 L Ed 874, 20 S Ct 729, for example, the United States Supreme Court held that the defendant, whose murder conviction was reversed, had the right to use such force as was absolutely necessary to resist an attempted illegal arrest.
In the modern American decisions on the question, a number of courts from a variety of jurisdictions have applied or recognized the traditional common-law rule that a person may resist an unlawful arrest by the use of reasonable force, while the courts in a few jurisdictions have modified that rule. Thus, although the statement in some cases that there is a trend toward limiting the right of resistance to illegal arrest is true in the sense that the common-law rule has recently been modified in some jurisdictions, it is not true that the common-law rule has been abandoned more often than upheld in the modern cases.
Assuming that the use of reasonable force to resist an illegal arrest is permissible, the question arises as to how much force is reasonable. The answer most frequently given in the modern cases is whatever force is necessary to avoid the arrest, short of homicide. Of those jurisdictions in which the common-law right to resist an unlawful arrest has been altered, most have adopted the view that a private citizen may not use force to resist a peaceful arrest by one he knows or has good reason to believe is an authorized peace officer performing his duties. This is the best description of current Arkansas law on this topic.
In other jurisdictions, the courts have made exceptions to the common-law rule where the basis for resistance is that the law allegedly violated is invalid, or that the arrest warrant is technically defective.

IV. Merchant Rule (Common Law)

The right of a merchant to detain a suspected shoplifter if they have reasonable grounds to believe the person is committing or attempting to commit theft or shoplifting derives from the common law right of citizen’s arrest

A. Statutory Right to Detain Suspected Shoplifters

Various state statutes giving a merchant a qualified privilege to detain suspected shoplifters usually provide that merchants or their employees or agents may detain, in good faith and upon probable cause or reasonable grounds, any person believed to be removing goods for sale from the store without paying for them, provided that the detention is for a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner. In Arkansas, a suspected shoplifter “may be detained in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time by a law enforcement officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee in order that recovery of a good may be effected.” § 5-36-116.

B. Presumptions of Shoplifting 

A statute may state a presumption that a person concealing unpurchased goods is taking the goods with the intention of depriving the owner of them, thus warranting a reasonable detention by a merchant. This is the current presumption in Arkansas under  § 5-36-102(c)
In Arkansas, a presumption of shoplifting also arises if an antishoplifting or inventory control devices goes off as someone is exiting the store. Sufficient notice must be posted to advise patrons that the device is in use and that activation of the device constitutes reasonable cause for detention. 

C. Procedure After Detention

Arkansas law provides a pretty straightforward for what comes next. First, the merchant calls the police, who may arrest the person without a warrant, if they believe that there is probably cause that a shoplifting has occurred. Then, the police officer and the merchant or merchant’s employee (whoever witnessed the incident) must provide a written statement, explaining the circumstances that led to the arrest. Then, the suspect must immediately be brought before a magistrate and given the chance to make a bond or recognizance. 

D. Immunity

The detention by a law enforcement officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee does not render the law enforcement officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee criminally or civilly liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, or unlawful detention.

E. What’s Reasonable? Murray v. Wal-Mart

Murray, a black female, was shopping at an Arkansas Wal–Mart on June 14, 1986, with her daughter and grandchildren. During her visit to the store, she put one hundred dollars’ worth of merchandise on layaway, purchased fifteen dollars’ worth of other items, and left the store with $207 in her possession. While shopping, Murray had been observed by Dana Elliot, a Wal–Mart loss prevention employee. Elliot testified at trial that she had seen Murray take a bottle of cologne, valued at $5.87, out of its box and place the bottle inside her halter top. As Murray was leaving the store, Elliot, store manager, Harris, and an assistant store manager detained Murray and inquired about the cologne. Murray denied the accusation of shoplifting and pulled her halter top down to show that she was not concealing any merchandise. Harris directed Murray to accompany him back into the store. Profane and racially derogatory comments were made by Harris at this time.
Murray was escorted to the second floor of the store. Harris or Elliot emptied the contents of Murray’s purse onto the floor. More derogatory statements were made to Murray while this episode unfolded. The Wal–Mart employees then telephoned the local police and, based upon the advice of a local prosecutor, requested prosecution of Murray for shoplifting. Murray was taken into custody and was searched by a female officer at the station. The search revealed no concealed items. Murray was denied access to her heart medication when she requested it for pain. Following her release, she sought medical attention because of her nervous condition.
Wal–Mart has an established shoplifting policy which provides that (1) Wal–Mart employees should treat a suspected shoplifter with courtesy, (2) employees should let suspected shoplifters go when in doubt or when unable to find items on the person, and (3) store managers should check with the regional supervisor before prosecuting doubtful cases. Despite this established policy, and notwithstanding the fact that a thorough search of Murray revealed no concealed merchandise, Wal–Mart continued to pursue Murray’s prosecution. Subsequently, Murray was charged with shoplifting but, after trial, was acquitted.
Addressing the merits, the district court found that Wal–Mart had pursued prosecution without probable cause, that the intentional and outrageous conduct of the Wal–Mart employees caused Murray to suffer severe emotional distress, and that the conduct was willful, wanton, and malicious. Furthermore, Harris physically pushed Murray back into the store, even after she warned him of her heart condition. Also, the fact that Wal–Mart continued to detain, search, and prosecute Murray without probable cause and in violation of its own policy smacks of exactly the type of “intentional infliction” to which this cause of action refers. The evidence of the Wal–Mart employees’ outrageous behavior toward Murray sufficiently supports the district court’s finding of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Consequently, the court awarded Murray $15,000 in actual damages, $10,000 in punitive damages, and $7850 in attorney fees.

VI. Not Available in Some States

Citizen’s arrest is prohibited in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Washington State under any circumstances.
And no state actually requires that you yell, “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!” but you obviously try to, if you get the chance.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

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Today is the 30th anniversary of the film that defined my generation, a generation too smart to settle for the mediocrity of earlier attempts at capturing specters on film: GHOSTBUSTERS! If you landed on this page and you are thinking something like, “I never saw that movie,” then just leave. We aren’t gonna call you.

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In honor of this occasion (and because I’m an enormous fan of Bill Murray) we are celebrating with a roundup of tales real life ghost hunters in appellate decisions and the news, and haunted tales from Arkansas.

Aside: I spent my 30th birthday in NYC and a friend took my husband and I to see the firestation in the movie. Here’s my husband’s picture of it:

Ghostbusters Headquarters!
Ghostbusters Headquarters!

Real Life Ghost Hunters:

Ghost Hunting Leads to Death of a Teen

State v. Davis
Slip Copy, 2014 WL 117409

On August 22, 2006, five teenage girls decided to go ghost hunting. The girls had heard that a residence located at 141 Sharon Springs Drive in Worthington, Ohio, was a haunted house. Tessa Acker drove her friends to the address and stopped the vehicle on the street in front of the residence. It was around 10:00 p.m. and it was dark.

Rachel Barezinsky and two of the other girls exited the vehicle and walked toward the home. One of the girls noticed an open first-floor window. As they approached the home a car horn sounded, and one of the girls believed she heard a bat. The girls became frightened and ran back to the car. As they drove away from the home, they heard several popping sounds.

Believing they had heard firecrackers, the girls circled the block and returned to the residence. Some of the girls yelled out in the direction of the home, and then several more pops were heard. The girls again became frightened and drove away. They had traveled only a short distance away from the residence when Rachel slumped over onto the driver. It was at that point that the girls stopped the vehicle and discovered that Rachel had been shot.

Police recovered a .22 caliber rifle from appellant’s home. Appellant admitted that he had fired a number of “warning shots” at a vehicle. According to appellant, two men had harassed him the previous week by pounding their fists on his bedroom window as he slept, and he believed that the same men had returned on the evening in question. Appellant stated that he fired the shots to scare the men away and to protect his family. Appellant did not believe he had done anything wrong.

On August 31, 2006, a Franklin County Grand Jury indicted appellant on five counts of felonious assault, each with a firearm specification. Appellant initially entered a not guilty plea to the charges.

State is Not Responsible for 17 Year Old’s Injuries from Ghost Hunting

Burton v. State
80 A.3d 856

On the evening of November 27, 2005, Burton gathered with four of his friends (ages fifteen to eighteen): T.D., C.A., H.C., and L.V., at T.D.’s home, drank “[m]aybe two” beers, and set off in C.A.’s truck to explore a local haunt—the former Ladd Center in the Town of Exeter. The Ladd property has been closed since 1994; and, in the years since, it has acquired a reputation in certain quarters as a home for ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

There is no perimeter fence around the property, but there are a number of “No Trespassing” signs posted, and the building that was the focus of the group’s exploration was secured by plywood boards over the windows on the first and second floors, chains on the doors, and metal grates welded shut. The plaintiff had visited the property on two prior occasions, and there was testimony that members of the group were aware that they should not “get caught” on the premises. The plaintiff testified that he had not sought permission to enter the Ladd Center property. Undaunted by the numerous obstacles to access, the group shimmied up a pipe to access a third-story window. Once inside, the group began to explore the abandoned hospital building. Although they failed to discover any ghosts, they did encounter the detritus of “medical-like tools,  bed frames, broken stuff” left behind when the Center closed.

Eventually, the group made an intriguing discovery—a cache of four clear glass bottles housed in a Styrofoam container inside a locker. The bottles appeared to be gallon-sized and contained a clear liquid; the labels on the bottles were decrepit and illegible. L.V. testified that he poured a small amount of liquid from one of the bottles onto a table, to see what it was. It was apparent to the group that the liquid had a syrup-like consistency and that it was not water. The plaintiff testified that he believed the bottle contained a hazardous material. Despite not knowing what substance was contained in the vessels, the group spirited away three of the bottles. The group later made its way to the first floor of the building and searched for an exit, finally kicking out part of the plywood that covered an exterior door and slipping, one by one, through the opening created between the plywood and the door frame. The plaintiff exited just ahead of H.C., who was carrying two of the gallon bottles. H.C. dropped a bottle which broke, spattering both plaintiff and H.C. with the unknown liquid.

A few seconds later, plaintiff felt a burning sensation on his legs. He rubbed his hand on them and his hand started burning. Realizing the liquid was “some kind of chemical,” plaintiff stripped off his clothes, leaving his wallet and cell phone behind, and ran screaming for C.A.’s truck. The caustic liquid was later determined to be sulfuric acid. On November 9, 2006, plaintiff filed suit in Superior Court against the State of Rhode Island, Phoenix Houses of New England, and several John Does alleging that defendants “negligently failed to inspect, repair and/or maintain its premises free from defect and/or dangerous condition.”On January 18, 2012, a bench trial was conducted, at which time plaintiff testified and presented two additional witnesses: L.V. and former State Buildings and Grounds Coordinator Carl Abbruzzese. At the conclusion of plaintiff’s case, defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law. The court reserved decision on the motion, and the state declined to call any witnesses.

The trial justice issued a written decision in favor of defendant, finding that plaintiff was a trespasser and that defendant did not owe him a duty of care. Further, the trial justice held that the attractive-nuisance doctrine did not apply to the facts of this case. Final judgment entered on February 27, 2012, and plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal. Further facts will be provided as may be necessary to discuss the issues raised on appeal. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

Local Police Captain Believes Family’s Tale of Haunting

(This is a repost from Gawker by Ken Layne)

A police captain in Gary, Indiana, says he believes a family’s claims of supernatural terror in a rental house they’ve since fled. Levitating children, swarms of flies in wintertime, mysterious footprints, invisible friends, another child “walking backward up a wall in the presence of a family case manager and hospital nurse”—this movie-ready tale even features screaming Catholic priests performing exorcisms.

The photograph shown here was distributed by the police department, according to theIndianapolis Starwhich notes that “officials say the home was unoccupied at the time the photo was taken.”Why is that noted? Because there’s a “figure” visible inside the enclosed porch. And there are 800 pages of official, local government reports on the strange happenings here. The alleged hauntings came to an end once the family of four moved to another home.

Local psychics showed up with their own very specific diagnosis: The small house on Carolina Street was crowded with more than 200 demons. And with that, the newly counted demons went to work possessing the three children, according to mom Latoya Ammons and their live-in grandmother, Rosa Campbell.”The family said demons possessed Ammons and her children, then ages 7, 9 and 12,” the paper reports. “The kids’ eyes bulged, evil smiles crossed their faces, and their voices deepened every time it happened.”

While most children behave this way most of the time, Ammons was convinced the Devil was involved.

Family services caseworkers, priests and a police captain are among those who say they believe the little house was filled with supernatural evil. And the Indianapolis Star dedicated more than 6,000 words to the ghost story. Even the local patrol officers can’t seem to get enough of it, leading the house’s owner to ask the cops to please stop driving by the house at all hours and spooking his new tenants.But when the family’s doctor visited the house during the alleged haunting, he noted their behavior was “delusional.” An unnamed witness told caseworkers the kids were “performing” for Ammons, and that she likewise encouraged the weird behavior. The house was kept clean and there was plenty of food for the kids, but investigators noted Ammons had constructed religious shrines everywhere.

The children were taken away by child services, but things have since settled down and the family is together again, apparently free of demons and ghosts.

[Photo via Hammond Police Department/Indianapolis Star.]

In Arkansas

All from Encyclopedia of Arkansas

 The Allen House

A famous Arkansas haunted house is the Allen House in Monticello (Drew County). It was built in 1905 by Joe Lee Allen, who lived there with his wife, Caddye, and his children, Ladelle, Lonnie Lee, and Louis. Pictures of them still hang in the front hall. Joe Lee Allen died in 1917. Sometime later, Ladelle committed suicide in the South bedroom by drinking potassium cyanide. Caddye Allen had the room sealed off until 1986, when new owners opened it up and found the bottle of cyanide still sitting on a shelf in a closet. The house is said to be haunted by Ladelle and her son, Allen Bonner. Since the 1950s, tenants of the Allen House have heard footsteps and moans and have reported other supernatural incidents. One couple, seeing a closet door ajar, tried to close it but felt someone pushing back on the other side. When they opened the door, they saw that nobody was there.

Lorance Creek

Several places in the natural world are the sites of their own ghost legends, usually connected to murders. Lorance Creek inSaline County is said to be haunted by a girl, her name unknown, who was apparently murdered by being pushed into the creek; she was buried at Cockman Cemetery near the creek a few days later on December 24, 1863. By the 1920s, her wooden grave marker was entirely weathered away. The first reported sightings of her ghost were in 1920, when workers started drilling for oil near the creek and graveyard. Some workers said they heard a woman’s scream, and one worker reported seeing her on Halloween. She was crying and was heard cry out, “Why?” She then walked to the creek and disappeared. She was seen several times later that year, reportedly appearing in the white dress she was buried in. After the workers left, her ghost was seldom seen.

Crossett/Gurdon Lights

Outside of Crossett (Ashley County), where the old railroad tracks once lay, an unexplained light has become a local legend. It has reportedly been seen consistently since the early 1900s by multitudes of people. The light is typically seen floating two to three feet above the ground but also is said to move into the treetops and sometimes side to side. The light reportedly disappears as one walks toward it and then reappears the same distance away, so that one can never get a close look at it. The Crossett Light’s color reportedly ranges from yellow or orange to blue or green.

The Crossett Light is one of many similar phenomena commonly known as “spooklights” in the South. There are other notable “spooklights”—around Joplin, Missouri; Senath, Missouri; and Gurdon (Clark County), to name a few. Like other such “spooklights,” including the Gurdon Light, the Crossett Light is, according to legend, the ghostly lantern of a railroad worker who lost his head in an accident in the early 1900s and who walks the tracks to find it. There seem to be many similar stories explaining this phenomenon, but this seems to be the most common. There are also stories, not widely credited, that the light is related to extraterrestrials.

A commonly expressed scientific theory holds that the Crossett Light could be swamp gas, a natural phenomenon. Some authorities also posit that the light could be an illusion caused by car lights and an incline in the land. This theory is more widely accepted than the swamp gas theory; however, the major drawback for the car light theory lies in the fact that the light was first reported in the early 1900s, before cars were common in the area. The first reports of the light started as the railroads were put in, which may have started the famous railroad worker story. No one knows for sure what the Crossett Light is, but it has entertained many residents and visitors throughout the years who drive down that old road to watch for it.

An Ozark Story: Things that go bump in Eureka Springs

Crescent_Hotel,_Eureka_Springs,_Arkansas_-_circa_1886

Baxter Bulletin (Mountain Home, AR)
Copyright 2011 Gannett, October 29, 2011

jdooley@baxterbulletin.com

EUREKA SPRINGS — Known as a quaint, quirky weekend getaway spot and wedding destination, Eureka Springs is now known as a destination for something a little spookier.

Two hotel owners with shady business dealings and a bank robber shot as he fled the heist are the genesis for the most well-known spook stories told around the Ozarks town.

The Crescent Hotel

The infamous Dr. Norman Baker bought the Crescent Hotel in 1937 for $50,000 and turned it into a cancer hospital. The high school dropout from Muscatine, Iowa, had tried his hand at a number of jobs, including machinist, magician, radio station owner and inventor.nHe also bought a radio station and began a campaign to discredit medical doctors while simultaneously promoting his own “natural” cure he bought from a snake oil salesman. The “cure” consisted of corn silk, watermelon seeds, alcohol and carbolic acid. Authorities soon shut down his radio station and Baker shut down his hospital, took his 144 patients — and his cure — and moved to Eureka Springs.

In addition to treating patients, Baker sold his cure through the mail. Most patients left the hospital only after dying and being autopsied in the basement of the building. Baker eventually was arrested and tried for mail fraud, spent four years in Leavenworth prison and was fined $4,000. Authorities estimated Baker made $4 million from “treating” cancer patients.Rumors of evil things Baker was doing in the basement morgue include organ and limb transplants and cutting live patients. To this day, rumors still make the rounds, particularly on the Internet.

Keith Scales, ghost tour manager for the hotel, says rumors were born from the contents of mason jars housed in the morgue.”People believed the mason jars contained organs,” Scales said. “It’s more likely they contained tumors Baker cut from patients after their deaths.”Baker sold the hotel a few years after getting out of prison, moved to Florida where he retired and later died.

The Ghosts

» Michael, Room 218

The history of Crescent Hotel ghosts actually begins with its construction. According to legend, one craftsman was an Irish stonemason named Michael.”Michael was a handsome 17-year-old, and well known as a ladies’ man,” said ghost tour guide Kathy Gilmore as she briefed two dozen people prior to a tour. “He always had a smile for the good-looking ladies.”

Michael was high up on a beam one day when he saw a pretty woman far down below, Gilmore claims. On his second attempt to get the woman’s attention, Michael allegedly fell to his death. Death has not deterred his interest in women, and he continues to flirt with pretty women to this day, she says. “Michael does like to flirt with the ladies,” Gilmore said. “He’ll touch them, turn lights and water on and off. He doesn’t like men. He’ll try to shove them out of bed.” Those wishing to interact with Michael should book room number 218, Michael’s favorite haunt, as it were, according to hotel legend.

» Theadora, Room 419

Guests who like help with their bags would do well to stay in room 419 where, according to Gilmore, they might receive help from Theadora, a cancer patient with a penchant for neatness. “Theadora is a particularly active ghost — people see her, hear her, she moves things,” said Gilmore to her tour group. “She is solid-looking, small, in old-fashioned clothes, and can often be seen standing in front of the door to 419 looking for her keys in her purse.” If Theadora thinks a guest is too sloppy, they may find Theadora has packed up their belongings and placed their suitcases by the door, in an apparent other-worldly invitation to take their slovenly habits and vacate the premises, according to Gilmore.

» Nurses and corpses, Third Floor

The third floor of the hotel was home to what Baker calls the asylum during the hotel’s time as a hospital. It was on this floor the patients in the most pain were housed. “He may have called it an asylum to paint the people as insane to explain the screaming,” Gilmore said. Nurses were constantly wheeling patients around the floor in wheelchairs, and less often on gurneys after patients died, according to Gilmore. “They still do it today,” Gilmore told her tour group. “People report seeing nurses pushing wheelchairs, pushing dead bodies on gurneys. People say they hear the squeaking of the wheels.”

» A sad, dead little boy, Room 228

Down the hall and around a corner from Michael’s room on the second floor is room 228, where a little boy named Breckie died of peritonitis, Gilmore says. Breckie was weak and was not allowed outside to play like other children. For entertainment, he bounced a ball in the hallway. Guests report he can still be heard bouncing his ball. And, he can be heard to proclaim his fate as unjust. “Guests say they’ve heard him say ‘It’s not fair,’ because he didn’t get to go out to play,” Gilmore said.

» We have a jumper

At one point in its history, the Crescent served as a girl’s college during the off-season. It was during this time, the seed of another ghost story was planted. While the college was strict, girls were known to sneak away from chaperones while in town and meet boys, and boys were rumored to be sneaked in, Gilmore says. Legend says one of the girls jumped — or was pushed — to her death from a balcony high above the hotel grounds. To this day, people, including a Eureka Springs police officer, report seeing a woman fall from a hotel balcony. When hotel personnel check, they find no one, Gilmore says.

» The Basement

Access to the spa is through a door in the basement of the hotel. To the left, lies another door, one much more interesting for ghost hunters. It is through this unremarkable wooden door one must step to reach the hotel’s maintenance workshop. During Baker’s time, the space was used as an autopsy room and a morgue.It was in a room stuffed with spare parts where employees of a televised ghost-huntingshow say they spotted the image of a person while using a thermal-imaging camera. The airing of that and subsequent television shows featuring the hotel and its ghostly goings-on catapulted the Crescent into the national consciousness.

On a recent October night during Gilmore’s tour, no one reported hearing or seeing anything unusual. What they chose to keep to themselves, only they know.

Remember These?

 

Chris Burks on Voting: a fundamental right in Arkansas

I’m reposting an Arkansas Times OpEd by Chris Burks, an Election Commissioner in Pulaski County.


 

Our Arkansas constitution guarantees that “no power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” In other words, voting is a fundamental right.

We have come far to get to the point that voting is a fundamental right. In 1961, well within memory for many, there were zero African-American citizens registered to vote in Amite County, Miss. Zero.

It took the courageous organizing of a young man named Bob Moses to ensure that constitutional rights actually meant something more than mere words on paper.

In 1961, Moses went to the courthouse in tiny Liberty, Miss., the Amite County seat. Moses and an African-American farmer and minster were beaten senseless by a sheriff’s deputy and others that first day they tried to register to vote.

Bloodied and bandaged, Moses announced to an assembled crowd the night of the beating that it occurred to him that he was no different than any other man. It occurred to him that “all” were created equal.

So Moses went back to the Liberty courthouse the next week. And the next. Moses didn’t quit until all could exercise their fundamental right to vote.

We have come a long way since 1961, and racial animus is not nearly what it once was. But even if a law is passed with the best of intentions, laws that disproportionately impact elderly, minority or poor should give us pause.

Now Arkansans’s fundamental right to vote may be threatened.

Act 595 of the 2013 Arkansas General Assembly is known as the Voter ID law. The Arkansas Voter ID law is similar to other laws enacted around the nation during President Obama’s time in office. Courts in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have found that these so-called Voter ID laws place additional burdens on the right to vote. Courts have specifically held that these Voter ID laws also disproportionately impact elderly, minority and poor voters.

In the past, the Arkansas Supreme Court has found that our state constitution is the “fortification within which the people have entrenched themselves for the preservation of their rights and privileges.”

As ever, it’s important not to forget our history. The fortress that defends our rights only survives if those we elect vigilantly stand watch.

The statistics are clear that the Arkansas Voter ID law today disproportionately impacts elderly, minority and poor voters. Even if you buy the argument that the Voter ID law is valid on its face, the law’s implementation has been messy and unequal at best — many voters from the May 20 primary say poll workers illegally quizzed them about the information on their ID.

Gov. Mike Beebe has said that the Voter ID law that passed over his veto was an expensive solution in search of a problem. The problem the Voter ID law seeks to address — in-person vote fraud — is not a problem in Arkansas. A separate absentee bearer issue may be the real culprit, if there is one to be found.

A young woman named Freedom is now one of the plaintiffs seeking to overturn the Arkansas Voter ID law.

How appropriate.

Just as Moses took a stand in Liberty, Miss., Freedom is now fighting in Little Rock. Let’s hope our state Supreme Court takes note, and remembers that we are who we are because of where we have come from.

Tom Cotton Struggles to Pull Off “Country Casual”; Fleece Vest Tells All

Fleece Vest Unzips to Tell Shocking Tale of Neglect

Tom Cotton’s Columbia fleece vest has broken ranks with the Arkansas representative and agreed to this exclusive interview. When pressed for reason behind the vest’s sudden defection, the vest admitted, “I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like a phony. He ignores me until he needs to convince a crowd that he’s just a ‘regular guy’ and just expects me to turn on the charm. And his red tie is always taunting me!”

No word from the rest of Cotton’s wardrobe, but sources say Cotton’s plaid shirt and blue jeans have been spreading similar tales behind closed doors.

Let’s examine the evidence:

tom-cotton2-copy 49672_web_cotton1 TomCanardCotton 21413191_BG1 Still0203_00000 Cotton_Thomas tom-cotton-tractor

Can Cotton pull off this look? You decide. 

Friday Funbag: Real Quotes from Arkansan Politicians Over Photos of Macklemore

Here are some profound (real) quotes from Arkansas politicians and candidates, set to the soothing imagery of Macklemore. You’re welcome.

On race relations:

macklemore

01

8ufgh

On the death penalty:

macklemorememe2

8ufyr

On the President:

macklemorememe1

On gay rights:

Macklemorememe5

macklemorememe4

Macklemorememe7

On women’s issues:

macklemorememe6

On gun rights:

macklemore1

On our failure to institute a theocracy:

8uhc2

8ufvj

8ug2p

 

I Don’t Want To Do This Anymore and You Can’t Make Me (Can You?): Voluntary Dismissals

I love the smell of civil procedure in the morning. There is nothing so comforting as a glass of iced coffee and two rule books to keep me company. And there is nothing so exciting as a finding a civil procedure rule that differs extensively between state and federal. So, grab your coffee and your rule books and join me for this thrilling look at Rule 41. 

Case not going so well? You don’t want to do this anymore? 

nop nope nope octopus

Let’s say you are a plaintiff, things have taken a turn for the worse, and the only chance your case looks like it has to survive  is by quitting it and refiling later. Can you? 

maybe gif

Generally speaking, the Arkansas Civ Pro laws tend to track the Fed Civ Pro laws pretty closely and it’s a rare bird that differs as much as Rule 41 (voluntary dismissals). 

We like to say that a plaintiff “gets one free bite at the apple,” which is pretty much true in state court, but it really comes down when he wants that bite if he is in Federal Court. 

what do we have here gif

What do we have here?

Arkansas

Ark. R. Civ. P. 41 

(a) Voluntary Dismissal; Effect Thereof.
(1) Subject to the provisions of Rule 23(e) and Rule 66, an action may be dismissed without prejudice to a future action by the plaintiff before the final submission of the case to the jury, or to the court where the trial is by the court. Although such a dismissal is a matter of right, it is effective only upon entry of a court order dismissing the action.

Federal 

(a) Voluntary Dismissal.

(1) By the Plaintiff.

(A) Without a Court Order. Subject to Rules 23(e)23.1(c)23.2, and 66 and any applicable federal statute, the plaintiff may dismiss an action without a court order by filing:

(i) a notice of dismissal before the opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for summary judgment; or

(ii) a stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who have appeared.

(2) By Court Order; Effect. Except as provided in Rule 41(a)(1), an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff’s request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper

Did I Get That Right, Judge Judy? 

let me look, ahh yes

That’s a big difference. If you primarily practice in state court, it something you need to be hyper aware of if you have a case in federal court, no matter which side you are on. It could literally make or break your case. 

What’s the standard? 

“We review a district court’s decision to allow a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss an action for an abuse of discretion.” Thatcher v. Hanover Ins. Grp., Inc., 659 F.3d 1212, 1213 (8th Cir.2011).

How Does a Federal Court Decide if they Will Grant a Voluntary Motion to Dismiss under 41(a)(2)? 

It’s a factors based test. 

whether the party has presented a proper explanation for its desire to dismiss;

whether a dismissal would result in a waste of judicial time and effort;

and whether a dismissal will prejudice the defendants.

Likewise, a party is not permitted to dismiss merely to escape an adverse decision nor to seek a more favorable forum. Id. 

Conditions

The court may also include terms and conditions in an order allowing a voluntary dismissal. Some examples include: 

payment of costs

payment of attorney fees

production of specific documents

making the dismissal with prejudice (must give plaintiff a chance to withdraw)

agreement not to assert specified claims in another action

etc. etc. 

Knowing your rules can be the easiest way to win the game

This is a perfect example of how knowing your playbook can win (or lose) the game. The next time you hear an attorney in a federal case tell you they can just nonsuit halfway through discovery, just make this Bill Cosby face: 

bill crosby gif