County Clerk Margaret Darter will appear in court two weeks before her jury trial after prosecutors requested a motion hearing.
Special Prosecutor Brian Clary requested a hearing regarding a motion in lemine he filed Sept. 16. Clary stated in the motion that he "anticipates that [the] defendant will present evidence of the past custom and practice of the Faulkner County Clerk as a defense to committing the offense of tampering with a public record" and that the "defendant’s defense is merely an explanation of why she committed the offense and is not relevant as to her guilt or innocence."
Defense Attorney Frank Shaw said he plans to file a response to Clary’s motion by the end of the week.
Darter, 52, was charged with tampering with public records on Oct. 27 and has pleaded not guilty to the felony charge.
With the general election drawing nearer, Clary has said it was important Darter’s trial be held before Nov. 8. Her jury trial is set for Oct. 18-19.
Incumbent Darter won the Republican nomination for county clerk in the March primary election and will face Democrat Penny McClung.
If she is found guilty, votes cast for Darter will not be counted.
State law dictates that any elected official convicted of a felony be removed from office. Misdemeanor charges involving malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance also require removal from office.
Darter’s charge stems from a June request by Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland to Arkansas State Police to conduct a criminal investigation into the date elected officials filed their Statements of Financial Interest versus the date stamp posted on the documents, according to an affidavit.
A Feb. 27 email from Darter to Faulkner County Justices of the Peace regarding SFI forms stated she would hand file late forms for Jan. 31.
(Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)