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Judge orders state to provide information, legislative testimony in Fayetteville civil rights suit

October 17, 2017

Arkansas Times,

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October 16, 2017-

Circuit Judge Doug Martin of Fayetteville has issued a formal order that quashes a state effort to block
requests for information and sworn testimony from legislators and other state officials about the motivation behind the state law that prohibits cities from enacting local ordinances that extend civil rights protection to gay people. We’d reported previously on the substance of the ruling. But his formal order issued today lays out his finding that the state not only fought the effort to produce information such as e-mails, it also made no reasonable effort to comply with the requests, as the law required.

He also rejected an argument that legislators couldn’t be questioned about matters on which they’d engaged in debate. They may not be PROSECUTED for anything they say in a debate, but that’s not an issue in this civil lawsuit. The judge said the request for information was over-broad but most of the issues could have been worked out without court intervention had the state not resisted. The information request targets, first, sponsors of the pro-discrimination law, Sen. Bart Hester and Rep. Bob Ballinger.

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