dismisses jury after hearing
By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer
===Lonoke County Circuit
Judge Lance Hanshaw, who previously denied a prosecution motion to quash
the sitting jury panel, did just that Monday. He ruled that way because
of testimony by a juror at Hanshaw's recusal hearing last Friday and
widespread press accounts regarding statements of other jurors.
=== "The court does not feel it would be
fair to the State, the defendants before the Court nor the jurors themselves
for the present panel to continue to serve in criminal matters," Hanshaw
=== He said the jurors could continue to
serve in civil matters until the new jury panel was empanelled.
=== In his one-page order, Hanshaw wrote,
"The Court is not saying the jurors presently serving could not be fair,
and, in fact, this Court has already found to be the contrary. In light
of new factors consisting of the recent hearing and extensive publicity
involving the panel, however, it would not be fair to these good jurors
to add upon them additional burdens of controversy which they did not
=== Hanshaw requested the circuit clerk
to call a new jury panel. Dismissal of that jury was one of two things
that Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain, and later special prosecutors
in her stead, sought from Hanshaw.
=== The other was for the judge to disqualify
himselfrecusein all current and future criminal trials in his court.
=== McCastlain has charged that Hanshaw
has a vendetta against her office. Hanshaw has countered that the prosecutor
is dragging his name through the mud and wants his job.
=== Hanshaw appointed retired Circuit Judge
John Plegge to serve as a special master in both matters, and to report
his findings back to Hanshaw. Plegge, who held a day-long hearing last
Friday, wants final briefs this Friday and said he would report his
findings to Hanshaw before March 1.
=== The entire matter, dating back to McCastlain's
Jan. 31 request for Hanshaw's recusal, has been acrimonious andsince
=== Both Hanshaw and Jacksonville District
Judge Robert Batton have called McCastlain a "bitch," and according
to testimony in the hearing, Hanshaw called her deputies "a bunch of
pussies" in front of defense attorneys.
=== Hanshaw, on the other hand, contends
that McCastlain wants his job and had asked a former quorum court member
to secretly tape record the judge's conversation.
=== He also said her prosecutors are overzealous.
Special Prosecutor Jack McQuary says that if Hanshaw, after hearing
Plegge's report, still refuses to recuse from the 118 current criminal
cases and all future criminal cases, the state will appeal to the state
=== It was the refusal of that court to
issue an order of prohibition last week that cleared the way for the
hearing, but the case could be re-filed later. In addition to alleging
prejudice, nepotism and other violations of the canons of judicial ethics,
McQuary said that a transcript of the Jan. 31 court proceedings would
show that Hanshaw already recused and was therefore not authorized to
appoint a special master or, for that matter, to rule on quashing the
=== On the telephone Tuesday, McQuary said
lines seven through 16 on page 15 quote Hanshaw as saying: "due to matters
that cannot be disclosed, are confidential, pursuant to Canon 3E of
the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct, the Court disqualifies on its
own motion and will reset everything but the first appearances.
=== All first appearances stay here and
reset all those matters for hearings on Thursday, Feb. 3, at which time,
another judge can come in and can consider this stuff."