After spending the night in the Pulaski County jail, blogger Russ Racop was released Thursday on his own recognizance on the order of Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.
Racop was ordered jailed for six months on Monday by Sherwood District Judge Milas Hale, who found Racop guilty of three counts of harassment involving city workers and a school employee on separate occasions last year. Hale ordered Racop to report to the jail by Wednesday afternoon.
Racop, a former candidate for Little Rock Board of Directors, is a frequent critic of Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and law enforcement in Little Rock and around the state, blogging and tweeting as Bad Government in Arkansas, Bad City of Little Rock and Snarky Media.
Racop's attorneys tried to keep the 63-year-old out of jail by appealing the verdicts to Circuit Court, removing Racop from the jurisdiction of the district court. The lawyers -- Little Rock law professor Robert Steinbuch, a recognized authority on Arkansas' open-government laws, and Chris Corbitt of Conway -- spent Thursday trying to get him out.
They were hampered, in part, because the first two judges assigned the case, Karen Whatley and Cathi Compton, recused Wednesday before the proceedings landed in Griffen's court, just before Racop's deadline to surrender to the jail.
The lawyers said that Racop's confinement became illegal under the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure when he filed his appeal Wednesday because of the nature of misdemeanor appeals, which sets aside the district-court verdict to give the defendant an opportunity for a new trial in circuit court.
Racop was scheduled to make his first circuit court appearance June 23 to schedule proceedings.
Court records show harassment complaints came from three people:
City of Little Rock Recreation Facility Supervisor Larry Gilmore reported Racop accosted him in January 2021 at the West Central Sports Complex on John Barrow Road by yelling sexual and homophobic slurs. In March 2021 at the West Central Community Center on Colonel Glenn Road, Gilmore reported that the blogger called him a "Black fat-a** b******" and made an obscene gesture in a display witnessed by another city employee.
City Hall security guard Willie Boyd complained about Racop over an Oct. 29 encounter. Boyd reported that Racop made an obscene gesture, described Boyd as a "fat a**" and made what Boyd said was a racial remark about Boyd needing "to go back to the plantation" in front of Boyd's co-workers.
Jessica Duff, the executive director of communication for the Pulaski County Special School District, reported that Racop, after telling her he had accidentally been given her Social Security number by the school district through an open-records request, repeatedly published it "inadequately redacted" between Nov. 15 and Dec. 7 as part of a post on his Bad Government blog. She was able to have his web host remove the post after complaining, but Racop kept republishing, even as prosecutors warned him to stop.