NWA EDITORIAL | Thursday Thumbs: Some Thoughts on Law Enforcement and the Courts

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It’s Thursday and another opportunity to put a few thumbs up or down on some of the news developments in our corner of the country and elsewhere:

[THUMBS UP] It’s undoubtedly a sad reality, but few people will be surprised that law enforcement officers today are well served by the presence of body cameras and Tasers. The public is also well served. It’s not that their presence guarantees that nothing will ever go wrong. Think of George Floyd. But consider the many instances in which cameras provide vital information about what happened. Again, think of George Floyd. Tasers, too, provide a less-than-lethal response when something more than a good conversation is nonetheless needed. Arkansans can be forgiven for believing the job of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers is in a different category, but consider enforcing the laws in the many off-the-beaten-path places they must travel. . The Game and Fish Commission recently agreed to a 10-year contract for 181 cameras and Tasers for its enforcement officers and the infrastructure to support them. The project should improve everyone’s safety and help answer crucial questions when — not if — conflict arises. Transparency and increased security is a big advantage of the arrangement.

[THUMBS DOWN] The highly partisan activities of Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, undoubtedly raise questions, given her activism in the “Stop the Steal” movement and her direct communication with the White House on strategies. seeking to overturn the 2020 election results. Some Democrats have even called on Judge Thomas to resign or recuse himself from cases involving the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol or efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Common sense would suggest that a Supreme Court justice spouse should refrain from behaviors that create potential conflicts of interest for justice, but spouses have their own lives and it is unfair to require them to limit themselves to facilitate the life of public responsibilities of their wife or husband. The onus rests with Clarence Thomas to step aside, recuse himself if necessary, if a case presents a conflict or even the appearance of impropriety. If it appears that Clarence Thomas has ignored conflicts in previous cases in which he did not withdraw, then justice should take big steps to clear the court of any compromising circumstances. Likewise, Ginny Thomas is not expected to receive any special treatment as authorities investigate her involvement in the January 6 and 2020 elections.

[THUMBS UP] It is satisfying that two men convicted of tricking investors into spending their money on a wind farm project in Elm Springs will spend years in federal prison and be forced to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution. The project was a fraud from start to finish, the court found. “You are a crook of a crook,” Judge Timothy Brooks told one of the men. “It’s just who you are.” We can appreciate the judge’s disgust at the actions of people who used deception and prayed over people’s interest in renewable energy and their hopes that their investments would pay off. Our hearts go out to the investors who have invested considerable sums in this project. We hope that they will somehow emerge thanks to the court’s decision.

[THUMBS UP] After two years of changes inspired by the lusts of those very slow-turning wheels of justice even at the best of times, it’s good to hear that the Benton County Criminal Courts are reviving in-person hearings on cases that they will hear. This means fewer video conferences and more parties involved in the same room. A public defender said a return to old ways would potentially help settle more cases since defense attorneys and prosecutors will have more time to speak directly. Achieving some disposition of more cases is desperately needed due to the downturn that has occurred during the worst times of the pandemic.

[THUMBS UP] The comments sound incredible, but Tyler Franks would have no reason to make this stuff up. This is the Prairie Grove police officer who nearly a year ago was shot multiple times – resulting in the loss of a leg – while responding to a domestic dispute. And he says he wouldn’t change anything: “To break it down, I feel like it’s part of my life,” Franks said in a recent interview. “It happened to me. Honestly, I wouldn’t change it. I can be a good influence and inspiration to others with the way I handled my incident, and I wouldn’t change it. It happened , and you must do the best and carry on.” The best, according to Franks, includes opportunities to talk to other injured officers to encourage them. Looks like Franks realizes he’s lucky to breathe and still be able to be with his wife and kids. Despite these challenges, it is a blessing worth seizing.

Give them a thumbs up

Want to give a brief feedback on the news? Someone who deserves a pat on the back? An idea that requires a dose of common sense? Recommend a “Thumbs Up Thursday” by calling Greg Harton at (479) 872-5026 or emailing [email protected]

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