Defendant in defamation case leaves courtroom with chest pains | Arkansas Blog

Defendant in defamation case leaves courtroom with chest pains

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JIM HARRIS: His report of chest pains halt trial. - BENTON COUNIER
  • Benton Counier
  • JIM HARRIS: His report of chest pains halt trial.
This from the federal courthouse in Little Rock, where testimony has been continuing in a lawsuit by David Singer over his firing as an employee of state Treasurer Dennis Milligan.

A witness in the gallery of the courtroom said Milligan Chief of Staff Jim Harris was taken from the courtroom about 10:40 a.m. by EMTs after suffering chest pains. The witness, who asked not to be named, said that at the time of the incident, Milligan's executive assistant Holly Beaver was on the stand, testifying as to whether she thought Harris was an honest man. 

Singer contends he was defamed by an e-mail written about him by Harris that questioned his mental stability. Harris said he hadn't meant for the e-mail to be made public, though he'd shown it to a KATV reporter. Milligan has testified Singer was fired for poor performance.

We're attempting to find out more about Harris' condition. The case was recessed until 9 a.m. Friday. He reportedly left the courtroom talking to paramedics.

Still no update on Harris' condition, but Linda Satter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has reported that when lawyers talked with Judge Brian Miller about whether the trial should proceed or there should be a mistrial, that Singer's lawyer, Luther Sutter, had said he doubted whether anything was wrong with Harris and that he'd be "fine" tomorrow. Satter reported that the judge responded: "That was the most despicable thing I’ve heard from a lawyer.”  Harris has  had heart problems in the past.

Harris' attorney, Byron Freeland, said he hadn't received a medical update on Harris, but hoped to have a report for the court in the morning. He said Harris didn't look well when the trial was interrupted.

Elicia Dover of KATV says Singer's lawyer, Sutter, wants the case dismissed and retried. She said he jumped up in court when Harris began having chest pains and said, "Called it." She reports that Sutter believes he can't get a fair trial because of potential sympathy for Harris.

The judge said the last thing he wanted to do is retry the case, but also understood the jury may have sympathy toward Mr. Harris.

"The last thing the State of Arkansas wants is to put the money up for another week of trial," Judge Brian Miller said. "If his health isn't restored in a day or so, I think we're done."



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