Retired Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck, writing today for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial pages, obliterated alleged lawyer and senator Trent Garner’s recent cheerleading for Issue 1, which would allow the legislature to seize control of courts, devalue human life and pretty much close the doors of the courthouse to lawsuits against malpracticing doctors and negligent nursing homes and other corporate outlaws. (Protection of corporate outlaws is the point of Issue 1.)

It was a battle of wits with an unarmed man. She wrote, in part, about Garner’s work:


As a lawyer he knows, or should know, that frivolous lawsuits are ultimately dismissed and lawyers can be punished for filing such lawsuits under Rule 11 of the Arkansas Rules for Civil Procedure. Furthermore, the column includes numerous false assumptions, unsubstantiated allegations and baseless conclusions not supported by any facts. It is a mere litany of “soundbite” buzz words. Nowhere is there an attempt to explain what the amendment actually says or will do.

Unfortunately, this kind of misleading information will be repeated ad nauseam from now until Nov. 6.

…Issue 1 no doubt is strongly supported by many Arkansas legislators, not because it is good for Arkansas, but because it gives the Legislature more power, with ultimate authority (through the enactment of court rules of pleadings and practice and rules of evidence) to control how justice is administered in Arkansas courts. The problem, as noted in an opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court, is that politicians are expected to do what their contributors demand of them, while judges are expected to protect the constitutional rights of all persons, without regard to the wishes of campaign contributors.

Give control of the courts to the legislature?


I have an idea for an ad. It would feature photos of Micah Neal, Jon Woods, Jake Files, Eddie Cooper, Hank Wilkins, Jeremy Hutchinson, Michael Lamoureux, Gilbert Baker and others who’ve worked in service of assorted special interests over the public at large. That Greenbrier nursing home patient left to die in abject pain despite a doctor’s orders for hospitalization does not influence decisions by their likes compared with, say, Michael Morton.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Supreme Court Justice Shawn Womack jumped into the fray on Twitter yesterday with some snark about Tuck’s appearance at the Arkansas Bar Association convention. After several, including me, said it sure sounded like he was advocating Issue 1, Womack said it wasn’t so. He says he has no position.


That’s bull. He sponsored “tort reform” when he was in the legislature. He was reportedly seen lobbying to get the tort reform amendment back on track in the House in 2017. He benefitted from nursing home money in political races.