LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court issued an order Thursday for a county clerk to appear next month and explain why the court should not hold her in contempt.
The court ordered Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Cindy Glover to appear before the court on May 5 and explain a filing issue with an inmate’s legal appeal. The state’s high court also issued an administrative order Thursday to correct other similar filing issues from the past two years.
Inmate Kenny Halfacre had asked for a poverty designation to file a lawsuit without paying the filing fee last year. The original court filings with the details of that lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Correction were unavailable Thursday.
The poverty request was denied, and Halfacre tried to appeal. The clerk’s office had not filed the court documents regarding the request because no fees had been paid, which halted the appeal.
The Supreme Court ordered the Lincoln County Clerk’s office to mark the documents “filed” and send copies to the Supreme Court’s clerks. But the order Thursday said the county clerk’s office marked them “received” instead, which further delayed the appeals process.
“In our order February 18, 2016, we made clear that a circuit court is charged with filing its orders so that an appeal can be taken if a party so desires. … We also explained that a circuit court may not prevent an appeal from an adverse decision by implementing procedures that prevent indigent petitioners for filing timely appeals,” the justices wrote Thursday.
Phillip Green, the Lincoln County attorney, said he needed to do some research before commenting on the order.
The court also issued an order Thursday saying several county clerks’ offices around the state were violating the rules of the court by marking judgments, decrees and orders as “received,” ”presented” or “recorded” instead of marking them “filed.”
“The clerks’ noncompliance with (the administrative order) calls into question the effectiveness of thousands of orders in this state,” the justices wrote.
The court said a glitch in automated filing software might have been to blame in a handful of the counties.
Baxter County Clerk Canda Reese said her office became aware of the software issue a few months ago, and it has since been fixed. She said the order Thursday was mainly an historical correction.
The order marked all of the incorrect documents between May 2013 and Thursday as “filed” to correct the issue.
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