- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Carroll County court is owed about $2.8 million in fines, court costs and restitution, Clerk Ramona Wilson said after a meeting where lawmakers questioned her about a legislative audit.

Wilson said Monday that outstanding amount owed to the 19th Judicial Circuit-East, which encompasses only Carroll County, dates back to the 1980s and includes recent court orders that aren’t delinquent. Wilson said other counties are in a similar situation, with millions of dollars owed to their circuit courts, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1zrQ6s4 ) reported.

Lawmakers questioned Wilson and a public defender Monday after a review by the Division of Legislative Audit said some fines weren’t being paid in a timely manner.

Out of the 370 criminal cases filed between January 2013 and June 2014 that auditors analyzed, payment hadn’t been made in 53 cases for three months. Auditors also found 31 cases in which payments were delinquent and the circuit judge wasn’t notified.

According to the Legislative Audit, Wilson provided only one report of the status of cases to the circuit judge. Wilson said Carroll County Circuit Judge Kent Crow asked only once for the list to be generated and didn’t ask again after May 20, when he lost his bid for re-election.

A legislative panel on counties and municipalities deferred action until it could hear from Crow, who said he hadn’t had time to review the findings.

The report also said there was no administrative order from the judge allowing the public defender’s office to waive fees in some cases mentioned in the audit. Public Defender Robert Allen said Crow had given the OK to waive the fees but that Allen failed to note that in his waiver.

Keith Caviness, a staff attorney for the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts, said the amount owed to the Carroll County court likely isn’t any more than in other counties. But, he said, no statewide records are kept on outstanding court fines and fees.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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