Oct 272016
 

Garland County citizens who were anticipating access to public records in order to answer questions related to financial malfeasance in the County Judge’s  office, have now been denied access to public records related to “STATE OF ARKANSAS VS. KRISTI LYN GOSS” by order of Circuit Judge Marcia Hearnsberger.

 

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Scanned Document Scanned Document Scanned Document

 

Subject:
FOIA Request – State Police Investigative File, State of Arkansas vs. Kristi Goss
From:
Sherry Jones <SJones@garlandcounty.org>    
Date: Wed, Oct 26, 2016 12:53 pm
To: “‘ceh@july4.org'” <ceh@july4.org>

Mr. Herrmann,

Terri Harris dictated the following:

This letter is a follow-up to my correspondence with you of October 25, 2016, regarding the subject of this email.  The Office of Attorney General was unable to address my issue.  However, at this time in the pending criminal case, a protective Order has been entered respecting pretrial publicity.  Pursuant to A.C.A. , Section 25-19-105(b)(8), the documents you have requested are protected from disclosure by Order of a Circuit Court Judge.  Accordingly, I am prohibited from any further discussion of this case in the media and am further prohibited from disseminating any documents pertaining to this case.  This Order also applies to the State Police and any other investigative agencies involved in the criminal litigation.  You can, however, gain access to the charging documents and the Affidavit of Probable Cause that are found in the Court Connect web site.  Those documents are of public record. 

With reference to your question pertaining to any alleged violation of the Public Meeting provision of the Freedom of Information Act, I watched the video in question but it was unclear as to the date that the meeting occurred.  There are two issues of concern.  The first is if the meeting occurred more than one year ago, any action, criminal or otherwise, would be barred by the Statute of Limitation.  I am also concerned that the statement you make reference to in the video is somewhat vague.  I have doubts as to whether or not the statement made on the video rises to the level of triggering a criminal investigation.  If you disagree with me, you may feel free to contact the Garland County Sheriff’s Department and request that they conduct an investigation into this matter. 

Based upon the above and foregoing, I believe I have fully complied with my statutory duties pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. 

Terri L. Harris
Prosecuting Attorney

TLH/sj

Sherry Jones
Administrative Assistant
Garland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
18th Judicial District East
501 Ouachita Avenue, Suite 107
Hot Springs, AR 71901
P: (501) 622-3720
F: (501) 622-3797
SJones@garlandcounty.org

order-regarding-publicity

https://caseinfo.aoc.arkansas.gov/cconnect/PROD/public/ck_public_qry_doct.cp_dktrpt_frames

 

 

Subject:

 
From:
Sherry Jones <SJones@garlandcounty.org>    
Date: Tue, Oct 25, 2016 11:46 am
To: “‘ceh@july4.org'” <ceh@july4.org>

Terri Harris dictated the following:

Dear Mr. Herrmann:

I am in receipt of and responding to your Freedom of Information request regarding the investigative file pertaining to alleged criminal wrongdoing by the former Administrative Assistant in the Garland County Judge’s Office.  I have conducted research on the issue of whether or not the law requires that the records of an investigation conducted by the Arkansas State Police as well as other investigative agencies should be closed to the public.  Your argument is that the investigative file is a public record under the FOI and you believe there are no applicable exceptions which would prevent disclosure.  The more compelling issue in your request is whether or not the release of the investigative file would deny the subject of pending criminal charges the right of due process to a fair trial.

There has been a high level of publicity and media attention in this case.  The Constitutional rights of an accused to a fair trial must be weighed against the public’s right to access to public records under the FOIA.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has previously noted that if the question is whether a defendant can or cannot receive a fair trial as required by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, then conflicting law must give way to a defendant’s right to due process.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has also noted that a law enforcement agency’s file is not disclosed merely because the press has published articles concerning the matter or everyone knows about it.  If an investigative agency discloses a file it obviously is not exempt under the FOIA.  It also follows that the file does not necessarily become disclosed after a criminal conviction or acquittal.  The file may still contain information not subject to disclosure under the FOIA. 

I intend to send a letter this date requesting an opinion on your issue for the release of these files from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.  Until such time as Attorney General Rutledge issues an opinion either in your favor or denies your request, these records will not be released. 

Terri L. Harris
Prosecuting Attorney

TLH/sj

 

Sherry Jones
Administrative Assistant
Garland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
18th Judicial District East
501 Ouachita Avenue, Suite 107
Hot Springs, AR 71901
P: (501) 622-3720
F: (501) 622-3797
SJones@garlandcounty.org

From: ceh@july4.org [mailto:ceh@july4.org]
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 6:35 AM
To: Sherry Jones
Cc: Sentinel Record; news@hsvvoice.com
Subject: FOIA Request

Terri Harris
Prosecuting Attorney
501 Ouachita, Room 107
Hot Springs, AR 71901
501.622.3720

RE: FOIA Request

Terri,

Please provide a complete copy of the recent State Police Investigation Report about financial malfeasance in the County Judge’s office.

In addition, please also provide copies of all of the County Judge’s credit card itemized statements from 2011 to the present which I previously requested, but was not provided because at the time, as I was informed, the records were connected to an “Undisclosed Investigation” by a law enforcement agency.

I would prefer to receive the records in PDF or other appropriate digital formats rather than paper.

Also could you please let me know if you have made a decision about whether or not to address the “open meeting” FOIA noncompliance by Quorum Court members that we previously discussed?

Thank You,

Clay Herrmann
Garland County Info – Managing Editor
www.garlandcounty.info
4246 Park Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 71901
501.620.3176

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