News » The Week That Was

Kids leading

Also, patient and examiner caught, opioid lawsuit filed and more.


Quote of the week

"When I forced myself to walk out of my school March 14 at 10 a.m., I did so knowing politicians and adults weren't going to save me and my friends. ... They want us to sit down and shut up. To silently be spectators to our own future. Don't. Go up there and do what you think is right no matter the consequence. Don't allow the Koch brothers, Tom Cotton, Asa Hutchinson or the NRA — don't allow them to decide what your future should be. What your country should look like. — Wylie Greer, a 17-year-old Greenbrier High School student who was paddled after he participated in a national school walkout for gun safety, speaking Saturday at Little Rock's March for Our Lives, part of an international day of marches for gun safety. Several thousand people attended the Little Rock march, which culminated with speeches at the Capitol.

Patient and examiner caught

The Arkansas State Hospital psychological examiner and patient who disappeared together last week have been arrested in Clark County, Nev.

On March 20, hospital employee Michelle Messer escorted patient Cory Chapin from the facility and to her personal vehicle, according to a police report. Before their departure, Messer apparently was questioned about providing contraband to Chapin.

Warrants were issued for both Messer and Chapin after the pair went missing.

This marks the second time Chapin has fled to Clark County, Nev. Court records show he was originally committed to the State Hospital in 2015 after being charged with attempted kidnapping, drug possession and theft. Chapin fled the state while on a pass to visit his father in February 2016; he was then arrested in Las Vegas in October and readmitted to the psychiatric facility in November.

Perry Wyse, the police chief at the State Hospital, said in a statement that both Messer and Chapin were being detained at the Clark County Detention Center. Messer faces a misdemeanor charge of aiding an unauthorized departure of a state hospital patient and a felony charge of providing prohibited articles to a patient, Wyse said. Chapin will be returned to the State Hospital.

Opioid lawsuit filed

Arkansas cities and counties have joined in a state court lawsuit against opioid makers with the hope of winning damages to address the problem.

The lawsuit by 72 counties and 210 cities — representing about 90 percent of the population in the state — names 65 drugmakers and individual defendants. It was filed in Crittenden Circuit Court. A similar number of Arkansas counties and some cities previously filed a lawsuit in federal court.

"Arkansas's one-voice approach to this lawsuit is one that gives us a seat at the table," Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League, said in a news release. "Neither the state or any county or city is big enough alone; this litigation approach ensures that recovered damages remain in Arkansas."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arkansas has the second-highest legal opioid prescription rate in the nation: 114.6 prescriptions for every 100 people in the state. Only doctors in Alabama prescribe more opioids. The CDC also ranks Arkansas first nationally when it comes to children ages 12 to 17 who have misused opioids.

Suhl conviction upheld

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the bribery conviction and seven-year sentence of Ted Suhl, the former operator of a behavioral health company in Arkansas. Suhl was convicted in July 2016 and later sentenced to seven years in federal prison. A jury convicted him on four of six counts of bribery and fraud-related charges.

Suhl's case drew heavy attention because of periodic past news coverage of his operations, which included the Lord's Ranch, later called Trinity Behavioral Services, in Randolph County, and his political influence. He was a contributor to legislative races, became friends with Gov. Mike Huckabee and served on the state's child welfare board. Suhl's appeal rested in part on an argument raised successfully in some other bribery cases around the country that the government had to prove a quid pro quo agreement for money paid for official acts.

In a 16-page ruling, the appeals court rejected that argument. It disagreed with the argument by Suhl's attorney that federal statutes and a case involving gifts to former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell weighed against the conviction. Intent is key, the court said.

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