Arkansas judge dismisses attorney general’s litigation against Board of Corrections

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An Arkansas judge on Monday dismissed Attorney General Tim Griffin’s lawsuit that accused the Board of Corrections of violating the state Freedom of Information Act, part of an escalating dispute between the panel and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders over who runs the prison system.

Griffin said he planned to appeal the two-page ruling from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox tossing out the complaint stemming from the board’s hiring of an outside attorney in the dispute.

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The panel and Sanders have been feuding over the governor’s push to add more temporary prison beds despite concerns raised by board members. The panel earlier this month voted to fire Corrections Secretary Joe Profiri, four weeks after suspending him from the job.

Sanders named Profiri to the job before she took office and he was confirmed by the board. The board ousted him after another judge blocked a law Sanders signed last year that took away the board’s authority to hire and fire the corrections secretary.

An attorney for the panel said it was pleased with the decision.

“The board did not violate the FOIA, and there is no reason for the FOIA litigation to continue,” Abtin Mehdizadegan said in a statement. “We invite the attorney general to meet with the board to work through these differences directly, once and for all.”

In his decision, Fox said the AG’s office had not complied with his earlier order to obtain special counsel for the board or to approve its outside attorney as special counsel.

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