The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed a Little Rock TV station’s appeal of an order not to run election attack ads critical of Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, as the judges made the determination that the issue was moot.
Goodson had filed defamation suits against several broadcasters in the run-up to the non-partisan judicial elections in May, claiming that ads being run by the Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Crisis Network included false and defamatory information. One judge on the Pulaski County Circuit Court, Chris Piazza, agreed, and halted the ads from running in central Arkansas media markets in the final days before the election.
Tegna Inc., the operator of Little Rock’s KTHV, appealed, arguing that Piazza’s order was an unconstitutional prior restraint on political speech.
But after months of brief filings and the case being bounced between the state’s appellate courts, a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals determined that the case had been "rendered moot by the passage of time.”
Goodson and Little Rock attorney David Sterling were the top two finishers in the first round of voting, held in May. Goodson bested Sterling in November’s Supreme Court runoff election, which was also fraught with negative ads.
John Tull, an attorney for Tegna, said he disagreed with the Court of Appeals’ decision Wednesday, saying “the issue is real, even if the election is over.”
Goodson’s attorney, Lauren Hoover, said she was not surprised by the outcome of the case.
Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.