A felony arrest warrant was issued Tuesday for a man accused of punching Circuit Judge David Clark last week.
Mason Hess, 19, 1905 Little River, was served with the warrant and released later Tuesday.
According to Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Marcus Vaden, a second-degree felony battery charge was filed on the basis of the seriousness of the injury. Clark said his nose was broken in seven places and will require surgery.
"It was a felony charge because of the serious physical injury," Vaden said. "A jury will then make a determination based on factual evidence."
Hess was also charged with a DUI later on June 28, which Vaden said played no role in the felony battery charge.
"Although alcohol is usually a factor in a lot of the battery cases we see, it was not a factor in determining this charge," Vaden said.
According to Conway police reports, Clark stated that on June 28 Hess made an obscene gesture toward him at the intersection of Prince Street and Hogan Lane. Clark proceeded to follow the black Tahoe Hess was riding in to Victoria Park.
According to Clark’s statement, Hess approached his vehicle, leaned in the window and wanted to know why Clark was following him. Clark then asked Hess "why he did what he did." The discussion reportedly went back-and-forth, before Hess began punching Clark in the face, according to Clark’s written statement.
Hess stated that Clark pulled to the side of the Tahoe and began yelling profanities at Hess and the driver. Hess said he approached Clark’s vehicle and Clark grabbed at him and pulled him into his vehicle, scratching his arm. Hess stated that he punched in the direction of Clark in self-defense.
"This isn’t about me being a circuit judge. This is about an individual getting punched," Clark said. "I know the justice system will run its course."
Vaden said sentencing for a second-degree battery conviction ranges from possible probation to up to six years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
(Staff writer Stephanie Fischer can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)