Our View

Our View

Lawyers still fighting to keep Issue 1 off the November ballot

By hook or crook, by golly, the opponents, many of whom are lawyers associated with the Arkansas Bar Association, used one of their own, a Pulaski County circuit judge, to disqualify the highly controversial constitutional ballot issue that, if voters favor, will limit the amount of money they make off of certain type of lawsuits.

Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce wrote in his ruling that he failed to find various provisions in Issue 1 – including limitations on attorneys’ fees and certain types of lawsuit damages, as well as a reworking of the judiciary’s rule-making process – “reasonably germane” to one another, which by simple definition means not relevant.

Let’s face it, this is his opinion and a ruling we hope is swiftly addressed by the Arkansas Supreme Court with our hope that the people have an opportunity to way in on the issue.

As we have seen, this has been a very intense and expensive battle between lawyers who are adamant in making sure politicians keep out of their business of determining how much money they can get from lawsuits. It is very clear that these lawyers will fight tooth and nail to also keep politicians from having any say whatsoever into the judiciary’s rule-making process.

Let’s remember Issue 1 was approved by the Arkansas Legislature in the 2017 regular legislative session as one of two proposed constitutional amendments to refer to voters in the Nov. 6 general election.

The other proposal is on voter ID which also is getting strong resistance from the liberal left among us.

Should we be surprised to hear this judge come out at this point saying the general subject of this attempt to set limitations on attorneys’ fees and certain types of lawsuit damages is unclear to him?

And what is this idea that setting limitations on how much attorneys can get from certain lawsuits is an infringement on the rights of the citizens? How is it that setting a limit on non-economic and punitive damages will prevent litigants from being “adequately compensated for the full amount of damages suffered”? How can one determine at this point what compensation should be given when it hasn’t been determined what the damages are? Isn’t this judge putting the cart before the horse sort of speak?

Regardless, it is very clear this circuit judge has just thrown a monkey wrench into the process and making an attempt in behalf of the state’s lawyers and other opponents of Amendment 1 to keep voters from having a say in the matter.

This circuit court judge’s action will clearly head to the Arkansas Supreme Court where justices will make the final decision as to whether voters will have an opportunity to say yea or nay to Issue 1.

We’re also told the Supreme Court will also have to decide whether or no voters will have a say on a ballot measure to raise the state’s minimum wage, which is being opposed by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.