The Arkansas Supreme Court in a brief, unsigned order today refused to require an expedited response to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s “emergency” petition that Judge Wendell Griffen’s procedural ruling in a marijuana license case be overturned and that he be removed from all cases involving her office.
Here’s the order. Without comment, it denies the state’s request for an expedited response. But that leaves before the court other portions of Rutledge’s filing yesterday.
Rutledge asked the Supreme Court to give Griffen only 48 hours to respond to its motion yesterday and that it grant at least a temporary order blocking his evidentiary ruling.
Griffen, ruling from the bench, required the state to produce by Monday, Sept. 23, responses to requests for information from Carpenter Farms, which is appealing denial of its request for a permit to open a medical marijuana dispensary. The state contends it is immune from this lawsuit and thus the discovery process should be halted. The judge’s lack of jurisdiction is so plain, Rutledge’s office argues, the Supreme Court should immediately overrule him.
The Supreme Court, citing sovereign immunity, has overruled Griffen on an earlier appeal by a potential marijuana dispensary, but this case differs in that Carpenter Farms’ application was never considered because of what the ABC judged were deficiencies in the application.
Rutledge’s petition went on to seek Griffen’s removal from all state civil cases because of what it sees as “biased” conduct. Griffen’s lawyer says Griffen has conducted court fairly. He suggested the state is merely sore losers and resents being cited for shortcomings in its arguments by the judge. The attorney general’s office has said the request grew out of, but was not limited to, comments made by Griffen in the recent evidentiary hearing to Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Merritt.
More still to come on all this.