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Pulaski County justice of the peace reacts to claims that she’s ineligible

Gulley says suit ‘a vindictive act’ by Neal Earley | May 17, 2022 at 6:51 a.m.
Supporters of a candidate cavort across the street from a polling place in Little Rock's Hillcrest neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, March 3, 2020. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/John Sykes Jr.)

Kristina Gulley, a Pulaski County justice of the peace, fired back during a community meeting Monday after being ruled ineligible to hold public office because of a pair of hot check misdemeanors from 1997 and 2003.

At First Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Gulley, a Democrat who represents District 10 on the Pulaski County Quorum Court, told constituents the campaign to have her ruled ineligible for office was a "vindictive act" by supporters of her opponent, Barry Jefferson, also a Democrat.

"It don't take a rocket scientist to figure out there is something motivating that -- it's political," Gulley said.

On May 10, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan E. Welch signed an order stating Gulley was ineligible to hold public office because of her prior hot check misdemeanor convictions. In Arkansas, hot check misdemeanors are considered an "infamous crime" according to a prior ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court.

In Arkansas, under the state Constitution, a person can be deemed ineligible to hold public office if he or she was convicted of an "infamous crime." Some infamous crimes include bribery, embezzlement of public money, forgery, abuse of office, any felonies or a case where a defendant admitted to an act of deceit, fraud or false statement.

Henry and Detrice Robinson filed a complaint against Gulley, alleging her prior misdemeanor convictions made her ineligible for public office in Arkansas. Gulley's name will remain on the ballot, but election officials won't certify her as the winner if she gets the most votes. Welch also ordered the Pulaski County Board of Election Commissioners to not count any votes cast for Gulley.

Despite the circuit court judge's ruling declaring her ineligible for public office, Gulley encouraged supporters to still vote for her.

At the meeting Monday, Gulley alleged Henry and Detrice Robinson had personal ties to Jefferson, her only primary opponent.

In a statement to the Democrat-Gazette, Jefferson denied any connection to the petition made by Henry and Detrice Robinson.

"I have not [led] any petition, nor have I participated in it," Jefferson said. "This is my third political campaign and with each one of them, my team and I have pledged to run a respectful and positive campaign."

Gulley did not previously disclose her misdemeanor convictions because she wasn't required to, she said, saying candidates must sign a form attesting to whether they have been convicted of a felony.

"I am not a felon, I am not a criminal," Gulley said. "Yes, I made mistakes in the past -- we all have."

Gulley, then 28, pleaded guilty to a hot check misdemeanor made to Pizza Hut in 1997. In 2003, Gulley was found guilty of a second hot check offense made to Jade China.

Gulley said she hasn't decided whether to file an appeal, saying the cost for attorney's fees may be too steep and is unsure if she could win in court.

"Appeals are costly, OK, it's costly," Gulley said. "If I don't do the appeal I can always run back again. You know, get this stuff cleaned up and run again."

Gulley has served on the Quorum Court since 2021. Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde said the Quorum Court will hold a vote on whether to vacate Gulley's seat at a meeting later this month.


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