Saturday, April 30, 2011

AG Opinion Mute on Helena Budget Because of Litigation Pending

The Arkansas Attorney General's office released an opinion on April 29,
2011 declining to comment on the situation in Helena-West Helena because
of its long standing policy of no comment on pending litigation. See
opinion below.
Opinion No. 2011-027

April 29, 2011

The Honorable Jack Crumbly
State Senator
1823 SFC 414
Widener, Arkansas 72394-9404

Dear Senator Crumbly:

You have requested my opinion on a number of questions concerning the
City of Helena-West Helena and its budget situation. It has come to my
attention, however, that a lawsuit has been filed on the subject matter
of your request: Pride, et al. v. Willis, et al., CV-2011-42 (Circuit
Court of Phillips County, Arkansas, Civil Division, complaint filed
February 8, 2011).

I have a statutory duty to render my opinion to legislators,
prosecuting attorneys, and other state officials on certain matters of
state law.[1] But my office follows a long-standing policy against
issuing opinions on matters that are the subject of litigation.[2] This
is in recognition of the judiciary's independent constitutional role. It
has long been the policy of the Attorney General, as an office in the
executive branch of government, to refrain from rendering opinions on
matters that are pending before the courts for determination.[3]

I must therefore respectfully decline to issue an opinion in this
instance. Your questions relate directly to the legal issues before the
court. The questions must be resolved in that judicial forum. Any
opinion from my office would amount to executive comment on matters that
are properly before a judicial body.

Deputy Attorney General Elisabeth A. Walker prepared the foregoing
opinion, which I hereby approve.


Attorney General
[1]A.C.A. § 25-16-706 (Repl. 2002).
[2]See, e.g., Op. Att'y Gen. Nos. 2009-089, 2008-183, and 2007-039 (and
opinions cited therein).
[3]See Op. Att'y Gen. 2008-034.

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