I, like the Democrat-Gazette, and many others are stunned by Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s decision to prevent public attendance at a court hearing Friday on who’s qualified or not to apply for a casino permit in Pope County.
I can only guess this is an in-your-face gesture by Fox toward County Judge Barry Hyde, who’s continued to impose health guidelines on county buildings, including the courthouse. But as Hyde has said, he doesn’t intend to prevent attendance at court hearings (certainly not virtual hearings, which Fox refuses to hold).
Who knows what this is about? I do know it lends ammunition to those who think all court and legislative decisions are the product of secret machinations. A bad look. Plus court precedent is clear. Court proceedings should be open.
Late today, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette filed an effort to intervene to challenge their prohibition of access to the hearing. Good for them.
They are right. Fox is wrong. The Arkansas Supreme Court shows no reluctance to reverse Fox. See today’s decision on state Plant Board.
Now … the bigger question remains for eventually the Arkansas Supreme Court: Did the amendment that requires local official approval of casino permit mean that to be approval before the permit application process began by a county judge who left office before the application process began?
So far, Judge Fox says yes. So far, the Supreme Court has looked disapprovingly on Fox.