ICYMI: Shut it DownFri, Jan 8, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Today, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in Independent Journal, or IJ Review, which is a social first, mobile first news company serving millions of Americans with shareable, informative and mobile friendly content. The piece is a call to action from Rutledge, urging local, state and national leaders to join her in expressing appreciation for members of law enforcement and to help shutdown the negativity toward these dedicated public servants.
From comic strips, to books and television shows and movies, we encourage children to find a hero who inspires them. Some choose Batman, Iron Man or Wonder Woman as their favorite super hero.
But what about these names: Chief Kirk Lane, Officer Michelle Hill or Officer Mark Willis? These three names could belong to anybody, but in my home State of Arkansas, they belong to local law enforcement officers. These three, along with countless others, get up every day with one mission: to protect and serve their communities and neighbors.
If they are not heroes, I do not know who is.
As Arkansas’s chief law enforcement officer, I am proud of the work of our officers and am honored to assist them in protecting our citizens by providing them with life-saving training and resources.
I have personally seen officers sacrifice so much and expect so little in return. I have joined in the celebration of newly sworn officers, and, tragically, I have stood with families and communities as they mourn officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
I am deeply troubled by the extreme rhetoric circulating across the country about members of law enforcement. If you turn on your television or pick up a newspaper, almost every day you can find somebody making disparaging comments about law enforcement and unfairly judging officers based on emotions fueled by rumors and irresponsible media coverage.
This must stop.
As I have held roundtable meetings in all of Arkansas’s 75 counties this past year, I have reminded local leaders of this negativity and have challenged them to join me. Whether these negative comments are driven from the national media or sadly from our nation’s Capital, it is time that we, as leaders, shut this down.
When families choose where to call home, they ask two questions: Are the schools good and what is the crime rate?
Without the commitment of local law enforcement to confront dangerous situations every minute of every hour of every day, the crime rates families use to determine where to live would climb. If families begin to look elsewhere to live, communities can count on the job market suffering and the economy struggling. People want to feel safe and deserve to be safe. We need to challenge Americans to consider what message detrimental comments toward our law enforcement send. I fear that this nation may lose an entire generation of men and women who want to wear the badge but will choose not to join the ranks because of the backlash they are witnessing against law enforcement.
A young boy once told me he wanted to be a superhero for Halloween. I told him there were dozens to choose from, but if he wanted to be a real hero he should wear a police officer’s uniform. I hope that more parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will encourage children to consider serving their communities as sworn officers. Being a police officer is a noble calling. I want to thank all members of law enforcement in Arkansas and across the country for answering that call to protect and serve.
Tomorrow, January 9, is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and I am calling on local, state and national leaders to join me in expressing our appreciation for our men and women in blue and the public service they perform. I hope that as a nation we will not only thank our officers tomorrow but every day by shutting down the negativity toward those who protect and serve our communities.
Rutledge Urges Court to Protect Marine’s Religious ExpressionThu, Jan 7, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with nine States to file an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces asking to correct a misinterpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.
“Our country guarantees the right of religious freedom to all citizens, including those who wear the nation’s uniform,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Congress established the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect religious liberty, but a ruling from the Court of Criminal Appeals incorrectly narrows the circumstances in which the act’s safeguards would apply. Along with my colleagues, I hope the Court of Appeals will swiftly recognize that a Marine’s decision to post biblical verses around her workspace is precisely the type of religious activity RFRA was intended to protect.”
On Oct. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces granted review in United States v. Sterling, the court martial of Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling, whose workplace allowed other service members to have personal items in their workspaces but punished her for posting Biblical verses at her desk. The lower courts ruled that RFRA did not apply because posting a Bible verse does not constitute “religious exercise” protected by that law.
Oklahoma and Nevada are leading the effort and along with Arkansas are joined by Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to reverse the misinterpretation of RFRA by recognizing that the challenged conduct is an exercise of religion under the law.
In the brief, the attorneys general said, “‘Exercise of religion’ includes any practice that is at least in part motivated by religion or engaged in for religious reasons. Even under the First Amendment, a practice is protected as religious exercise so long as it is ‘rooted in religion’ and not ‘purely secular.’”
Rutledge Files Suit Against Arkansas Funeral CareThu, Jan 7, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a consumer-protection lawsuit today against Jacksonville-based Arkansas Funeral Care (AFC) because the business did not provide various funeral-care services in a timely, professional and respectful manner, and in some cases did not provide the expected service at all.
“Anytime Arkansans enter into a contract with a business, they expect all agreed-upon services to be performed timely and ethically,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult periods in anyone’s life, and a funeral provider has an obligation to make this time easier. Unfortunately, Arkansas Funeral Care violated the trust of Arkansas families and they must be held accountable for their disgusting actions.”
The complaint states that Arkansans entered into written contracts for chosen funeral goods and services with AFC based on advertised representations on their website, as well as other oral representations made during the sales process. The contracts detailed the costs of the funeral goods and services to be rendered at the time of need.
The Attorney General’s office has received formal complaints from effected families in which AFC did not perform various agreed-upon funeral-care services, including: failure to provide cremation services, nauseating odor of bodies that were left unrefrigerated without being embalmed, failure to provide adequate staff to transport bodies and untimely receipt of death certificates.
Arkansans reported delays in embalming that caused extreme levels of decomposition to the bodies, resulting in some not having the ability to hold an open-casket service and one person reported that the cremation of her husband, a veteran, was delayed over three weeks and was not available for his memorial service.
Rutledge is asking the court to impose civil penalties, restitution for the affected consumers, attorneys’ fees, costs and other relief against AFC.
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for JanuaryWed, Jan 6, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for January.
Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. In October, the initiative celebrated the milestone of holding office hours in all 75 counties, marking the first time that the Attorney General’s office has held office hours in each county across the State. With the arrival of the new year, the office will once again travel to all 75 counties to assist Arkansans.
The mobile offices assist constituents with consumer-related issues in filing consumer complaints and providing information about scams, identity theft, fraud and other protections. Attorney General Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.
The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:
Monday, Jan. 11
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Faulkner County Senior Wellness and Activity Center
705 E. Siebenmorgen Road
Conway, AR 72032
Tuesday, Jan. 12
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Betty Fort Senior Center
1 Newberry Drive
Lonoke, AR 72086
Thursday, Jan. 14
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Lightle Senior Center
2200 E. Moore Ave.
Searcy, AR 72143
Thursday, Jan. 21
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
James “Jitters” Morgan White Hall Community Center
9801 Dollarway Road
White Hall, AR 71602
Monday, Jan 25
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Pocahontas Senior Wellness Center
1505 Airport Road
Pocahontas, AR 72455
Tuesday, Jan. 26
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Walnut Ridge Senior Wellness Center
504 SE Southern Ave.
Walnut Ridge, AR 72467
Thursday, Jan. 28
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Central Arkansas Development Council Benton Senior Wellness and Activity Center
210 Jefferson Street
Benton, AR 72015
Rutledge Statement on the President’s Action to Implement Gun Control through Executive OrderTue, Jan 5, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement after President Barack Obama announced executive actions to restrict gun rights of law-abiding Americans.
“Enhancing public safety and reducing the impact of gun violence on our communities must be a top priority, but the President is once again attempting to side-step the legislative branch, this time to restrict gun rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am extremely concerned at the President’s executive actions. As Arkansas Attorney General, I have a duty to protect Arkansans and to make sure our fundamental, Constitutional rights are not violated.”
Rutledge Statement on the Passing of Former Senator Dale BumpersSat, Jan 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released the following statement after learning of the passing of former Senator Dale Bumpers:
“Dale Bumpers served the people of Arkansas for years with dedication and distinction. From his time as Governor and Senator, he never lost his passion and commitment to take care of Arkansans and to move our State forward. Sen. Bumpers' thoughtfulness and servant heart will be missed. I extend my heartfelt prayers to his family.”