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story.lead_photo.caption Courtney Goodson is shown in this file photo.

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.

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Comments

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  • RBBrittain
    December 12, 2018 at 12:02 p.m.

    The immediate issue is moot, but the underlying issue of an unconstitutional injunction against free speech -- even speech I personally disagree with and believe should be otherwise regulated -- still needs to be addressed by either the Arkansas or U.S. Supreme Courts under an exception to the mootness doctrine. Sadly, that may not happen because Goodson is still on the ASC (I voted for her but only because the alternatives were even worse, and even her certain recusal might not remove the taint) and the odds of getting SCOTUS to hear anything, much less a mootness-doctrine exception, are extremely slim.

  • GeneralMac
    December 12, 2018 at 12:38 p.m.

    If all campaign ads had to pass the "truth test" before going public, there would be very few ads.

  • Quackenfuss
    December 12, 2018 at 1:51 p.m.

    I agree with Generalmac about the almost complete unreliability of election ad claims. I also agree with RBB that the issue is important, even if moot. As to Miss Courtney's claim that she was being picked on, well, yeah, that's what political opponents do in their ads. If any of their statements or claims are defamatory or libelous, I would think that a Supreme Court justice would understand that the remedies lie in civil law, as in suing the party making a statement and forcing them to demonstrate the truthfulness. If they fail, then a jury will surely find them guilty of libel and set monetary damages. For a sitting justice of the ASC to attempt to remediate such unpleasantness by a naked attempt to force the exercise of prior restraint of free speech by a commercial television station is breathtaking, jawdropping, and bless her tiny little heart, more than a bit arrogant. Like RBB I found myself voting for her because the alternative was worse, but I kinda hoped for some miracle, like everyone writing in Elvis Presley for the job. Sadly, that did not happen. As for the Court of Appeals and Judge Piazza, well, I won't venture to say what I think they did, as I am SURE that their legal opinions were based on wholly sound reasoning and interpretation of the law. Not.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    December 12, 2018 at 2:13 p.m.

    Goodson is a tyrant

  • Skeptic1
    December 12, 2018 at 5:14 p.m.

    We have a very serious problem with the judiciary in this state. Goodson is a poster child for why we need independent oversight as the judiciary will not police itself. Goodson refuses to recuse in cases she has a connection to and this latest arrogant display of hers during the election shows just how much power these judges have. Complaints about rogue and out-of-control judges by citizens go into the circular file leaving them with no recourse, time to reign them in.

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