by Max Brantley
A hearing is set at 11 a.m. Friday in Judge Michael Fitzhugh's court in Fort Smith on a curious case.
It is a challenge of the order by Judge William Storey of Fayetteville banishing a public defender, Julie Tolleson, from representing defendants in his court, which handles most of the criminal work in Fayetteville. He apparently was perturbed at her Facebook criticism of his decision to continue with court hearings one day with 23 inches of snow on the ground and the rest of government closed, a decision that presented difficulties for her poor clients.
This looks like a no-brainer to me. I don't see how a judge can take away a lawyer's ability to work because he doesn't like her. If he's got a problem with a lawyer sufficient that he can't tolerate her appearance in his court, HE should vacate the courtroom on those occasions. Our First Amendment is pretty empty if criticism of a judge's decision is ground for being prevented by that judge, an employee of the state, from pursuing your livelihood.