Jim Hall, a Republican candidate for state House from Monticello who was disqualified on account of a hot check conviction, has renewed his claim for the ballot by arguing his record has been expunged.
The Democratic Party is up in arms about it. Party counsel Chris Burks said Hall has filed a motion before Judge David Laser, who disqualified Hall, saying his conviction had been expunged and he should be allowed to run.
Problem I’ve discovered: Faulkner Prosecutor Cody Hiland said the record was NOT expunged. He said the office had not opposed a motion by Hall to seal the record of his hot check conviction. He said the office routinely doesn’t oppose efforts to seal hot check records when debts have been satisfied and there aren’t other complicating factors, but he insisted the record had not been expunged. He added he had no idea who Hall was until he began getting calls about the case. He also added that he was not sure an expungement necessarily cleared a conviction for purposes of ballot qualification anyway.
Burks said he was prepared to argue, if there was an expungement, that the law required a 90-day wait for expungement after a request was made. But he isn’t buying Hiland’s defense.
The omnibus Motion to Seal Act wipes out the conviction exactly like a expungement. Cody Hiland knows that and he knows the law-I can’t believe he would tell you otherwise. (“(b)(1)Upon the entry of the uniform order, the person’s underlying conduct shall be deemed as a matter of law never to have occurred, and the person may state that the underlying conduct did not occur and that a record of the person that was sealed does not exist.”) The 2016 Arkansas Supreme Court case out of Cleburne County that I attached stands for the proposition that a sealed conviction does not disqualify a candidate.
The re-emergence of Hall as a potential candidate against otherwise unopposed Democrat LeAnne Burch, set Party chair Vince Insalaco off. He suggested Hiland was in cahoots with Hall and lumped them in with other disgraced Faulkner Republicans, including Mike Maggio and Gilbert Baker. He mentioned the personal hot checks Hiland had to deal with before his run for prosecutor.
Insalaco noted that Hall had been in court on a variety of other allegations, including harassing an ex-wife and others (though these are not necessarily the “infamous crimes” that can get a candidate disqualified.)
Insalaco’s attack on Hiland rests on the notion that Hall’s record was expunged. Hiland said repeatedly it was not.Burks says Hiland doesn’t know what he’s talking about (or alternatively, not telling the truth). Next chapter will be Friday in Drew County. Burks is loaded with arguments:
The petition to seal was only filed on August 30, 2016. The Order to seal could not have been entered for 40 more days. Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1413(c)(1) reads that “the court may not grant the uniform petition until ninety (90) days have passed since the uniform petition was served on the prosecuting attorney, although the court may deny the uniform petition at any time.”
Plus, the attached criminal history proves the expungement never should have been granted in the first place. The Deputy on the case was Taylor Martin, and he admitted to me he never checked Jim Hall’s criminal past before signing the Order to expunge in a hurry. His office assistant also admitted to me they all knew about the politics of it and that “the Democrats” wanted Jim Hall off the ballot, so that is why his expungement was being sent over.
Hiland responded that his office had checked Hall’s record and found no disqualifier. He said the timing of filing of the order was a matter for the court, not his office. He reiterated no special treatment was given and that he had no idea who Hall was. Finally, as to Burks’ statement that a sealing order included expngement, he said, “tThat may be. I would disagree, but I don’t know the law.”