Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, under court order to answer questions about some of her decision-making practices, blocked Friday’s inquiry hearing at the last minute by transferring the case from state court to federal court.
Rutledge is being sued over the way she decides whether ballot initiatives can be brought before the public.
The suit filed earlier this month was brought by lawyers who accuse her of deliberately thwarting their efforts to get proposed constitutional amendments on casino gambling and sovereign immunity on the ballot for voters to decide.
The lawyers are also challenging the constitutionality of the state law that gives the attorney general the authority to review proposed laws and constitutional amendments before they can be submitted to voters for approval.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen had ordered the first-term Republican to submit to questioning under oath at a Friday hearing, but Rutledge moved the case to federal court about 90 minutes before the 10 a.m. proceeding.
Griffen stated that he only ordered her to submit to questioning because she had refused to cooperate in the pre-trial exchange-of-evidence process called discovery.
The venue change means that Rutledge’s lawyers now will have to persuade federal Judge Karen Baker that she should retain jurisdiction of the case at a hearing yet to be scheduled.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.