In a brief order today, the Arkansas Supreme Court declined today to accept a friend of the court brief from Pope County Judge Ben Cross in the Cherokee nation’s appeal of the state Racing Commission’s award of a casino permit in Pope County to the Gulfside Casino partnership.
Pope County wanted to argue that approval of a current county judge (Cross) was necessary under the casino amendment to the Arkansas Constitution for a casino permit. Gulfside offered a letter, sent before the casino permit application opened, from the previous county judge. The county, with support from other county judges, also wanted to argue against the infringement of the constitutional powers of county judges.
Justices Barbara Webb and Robin Wynne would have allowed the brief to be considered. Jim Spears sat as a special justice on the case because Chief Justice Dan Kemp didn’t participate.
Because of the decision, the court said a request by Gulfside to respond to the brief was moot. Cross’ decision to ask to intervene was criticized by members of the Pope County Quorum Court, where opposition to the casino development is strong. Several members defeated casino supporters in the last election.
This is but one of several pending lawsuits on the Pope County casino permit. Cross’ point was central in the circuit court ruling the Cherokee Nation is appealing.