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story.lead_photo.caption In this Feb. 12, 2018 file photo, Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson sits inside the House chamber while waiting on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to deliver his State of the State address in Little Rock. (AP Photo/Kelly P. Kissel)


An Arkansas judge has ruled that some TV stations can resume running an out-of-state conservative group's ad criticizing a state Supreme Court justice seeking re-election, and the ruling comes just hours after another judge blocked other stations from airing it.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce on Friday denied a request to prevent northwest Arkansas stations from running the Judicial Crisis Network's ad targeting Justice Courtney Goodson. Pierce was assigned to handle the case after a Washington County judge who had temporarily blocked the ad recused himself following questions about a potential conflict of interest.

Pierce's ruling came hours after another Pulaski County judge ordered several Little Rock-area stations to stop running the ad through the May 22 non-partisan judicial election. Goodson is being challenged by Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson and state Department of Human Services Chief Counsel David Sterling.

Goodson has called the ads false and defamatory.

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

— The Associated Press


A judge in Pulaski County has ordered that ads critical of high court Justice Courtney Goodson be taken off the air in the state’s largest media market through the Supreme Court election Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza found that Goodson had a likelihood of proving that the ads are defamatory at a later trial.

But he also suggested the justice’s legal team reformat its case once the election is over so that it includes the actual purchasers of the ad.

The decision came after attorneys for Tegna, which owns Little Rock TV station THV11, asked Piazza to dismiss the lawsuit against it. The dismissal request is based on arguments that the broadcasters were not properly given notice of the judge’s complaints over ads being run on TV.

Attorneys for the TV companies argue the ads are protected free speech.

Ultimately, Piazza said, the case has the potential to reach the U.S. Supreme Court because it dealt with “sacred” issues involving free speech.

But, he said he feared irreparable harm was being done in the meantime by the ads, which derided Goodson for gifts received from trial attorneys while serving on the state’s highest court. Goodson has said she recused from all cases involving gift givers and that the ads falsely claimed she had continued to oversee cases involving conflicts.

“There’s something obscene about what’s going on with the type of judicial advertising that’s going on right now,” Piazza said.

After the ruling, Goodson embraced her attorneys with a wide smile.

A related case that involves stations in Northwest Arkansas has a hearing in the same courthouse scheduled for 2 pm.

“I feel like we have the wind in our sails,” Goodson said.

—John Moritz


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Archived Comments

  • nub
    May 18, 2018 at 2:07 p.m.

    do not need ads to tell me how sleazy this SNOWFLACK is

  • BigA
    May 18, 2018 at 5:29 p.m.

    Wow... so much for the 1st Amendment. I guess it only applies to regular folks... can't talk about lawyers and judges. Next thing they'll say we can't tell lawyer jokes. I'm not saying the truth was told about the woman... the truth has nothing to do with the right of people to express their own opinion about their perception of truth. Especially when it comes to public officials and politics. If she can't take the heat she should get out of the kitchen :)

  • NoUserName
    May 18, 2018 at 5:48 p.m.

    Big - there ARE limits to free speech. It isn't absolute. Regardless, Goodson needs to lose.

  • slawrence1234
    May 18, 2018 at 6:09 p.m.

    Her and Rutledge both need to go.

  • wolfman
    May 18, 2018 at 6:29 p.m.

    what happened to free speech? has trump already done away with it? let people run whatever ads they want and hopefully the people will vote correctly.

  • GeneralMac
    May 18, 2018 at 8:36 p.m.

    Just say NO to Courtney Goodson on election day.

  • Skeptic1
    May 18, 2018 at 9:36 p.m.

    Good for Judge Pierce, this woman never should have been elected in the first place, she ran a sleazy campaign run by a Conway consulting firm now crying foul having it dished back on them.