Arkansas Supreme Court
JUDGE L.T. SIMES: His plan to remove prosecutor stayed.
today issued two orders related to the controversial 2011 murder case in Phillips County against Tony Bernard Smith.
This is the case that Prosecutor Fletcher Long
had tried to nolle prosse for lack of evidence. Judge L.T. Simes
wouldn't accept Long's motion and ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor, an action most legal observers believe he didn't have authority to take.
Smith has tried to get Simes' order nullfied. The attorney general entered the case
on his behalf and also argued that Simes had abused discretion, too.
Today, the Supreme Court granted accelerated consideration of Smith's pleading and stayed proceedings in Simes' court until it can rule on Smith's request for either an order prohibiting Simes' action or give him a full appeal on the question. The court said, however, that the attorney general's intervention in support of Smith was "improvidently filed."
Simes claimed he acted because the prosecutor and a deputy could be involved in Operation Delta Blues,
a federal investigation of public corruption, based on testimony from one of the people implicated in the probe. Long and the deputy dispute that. Others have said that the FBI investigation in the Delta has left hardly a courthouse or court unexplored for potential illicit activities, including Simes' own court. But, to date, other than drug dealers, the dragnet has only swept up some law officers. Simes has twice been recommended for removal from the bench by the state judicial discipline agency, but the Supreme Court has allowed him to continue in office, though suspending him on one occasion.