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Judge: Former Rep. Smith can't run in primary

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published April 9, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. Updated April 9, 2012 at 2:15 p.m.

former-rep-fred-smith-right-leaves-court-after-a-hearing-over-his-eligibility-to-run-in-the-upcoming-democratic-primary

Former Rep. Fred Smith, right, leaves court after a hearing over his eligibility to run in the upcoming Democratic primary.

— A Pulaski County judge ruled Monday that a former state representative who resigned after being convicted of a felony charge cannot run again for the post in the upcoming primary election.

Former Rep. Fred Smith, D-Crawfordsville, resigned from the House in January 2011 after being found guilty of felony theft of property delivered by mistake. But in the closing minutes of the filing period on March 1, Smith refiled for the position, not directly answering questions about whether his criminal record had been expunged.

Party officials filed a lawsuit to have Smith removed from the ballot and Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mary McGowan heard arguments from the two sides at a hearing last week.

An attorney for Smith argued that a judge gave Smith a deferred sentence with conditions that Smith met, keeping a conviction from ever appearing on his record and allowing him to run. Attorneys for the party contended that Smith was convicted and while the charge was dismissed by the prosecutor, it happened after the filing period had ended.

McGowan ultimately agreed with the party, noting Smith filed to have his theft sentence vacated on March 8.

"As Smith did not file his petition to vacate the sentence until a week after he had filed as a candidate for elective office, the Dismissal Order entered on March 14, 2012 is too late to meet the statutory requirements of the filing deadline of noon on March 1, 2012," she wrote.

Candace Martin, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, applauded the decision.

"Obviously from the onset of this process, our no. 1 priority was making sure Arkansas law is upheld," she said. "We're pleased with the court's decision."

Smith's name will appear on the May ballots because they have already been printed, but no votes for him will be counted, according to the order.

McGowan issued the order Monday afternoon.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Comments on: Judge: Former Rep. Smith can't run in primary

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 total comments

StrayGoose says... April 9, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.

Now, only DemocRATs who haven't been caught will be elected.

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SPA says... April 9, 2012 at 3 p.m.

Wish they'd do something about R-Harris in NW AR. That scumbag has taken federal funds for his private-for-profit pre-school, "Growing God's Kingdom", and has provided religious instruction at the school. When challenged, he gets a lawyer for right-wing church groups with the agenda to push allowing religious instruction in private schools. He's not fit for office; doesn't even respect the U.S. Constitution.

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VOM says... April 9, 2012 at 3:02 p.m.

It's rulings like this that keep Marion Barry awake at night...

Confucious say, "Never get lawyer who has to borrow his father's too-big suit.'

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AmericasDoomed says... April 9, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.

He's only got ONE felony? For a black man that's basically a clean record.

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justlooking says... April 9, 2012 at 4:08 p.m.

""Never get lawyer who has to borrow his father's too-big suit."
Too funny.
He wore it for the lulz.

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Packman says... April 9, 2012 at 5:41 p.m.

Such a "scumbag", teaching children God's word. What exactly do you have against God, SPA?

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amberjack says... April 10, 2012 at 8:43 a.m.

Good, I am sick of reading about the thug

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