The line is open. Closing out.

* MURDER CONVICTION AFFIRMED: The Arkansas Supreme Court today affirmed the murder conviction and death sentence of Jerry Lard for the fatal shoooting of Trumann Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt during a 2011 traffic stop. Among other arguments rejected, Lard had said it was prejudicial to him to show the jury dash cam videos of the crime, which included Lard speaking to Schmidt abusively as he shot him repeatedly. Lard said it should have been enough that he did not dispute shooting Schmidt given that there was testimony of others. The court said the probative value of the videos outweighed potential prejudice. Prosecutor Scott Ellington cheered the decision but said he was disappointed the court didn’t use the case as an opportunity to clarify the law that would allow a victim’s family the right to be present in court during trial, even if they’d be testifying as a witness in the sentencing phase of the trial.


* CORMAC MCCARTHY COULDN’T MAKE THIS UP: The Smoking Gun has it all — space aliens, a gun, lingerie,  a sex act, a famous author. I kid you not.

* COMPLAINT RELEASED ON ALLEGED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST HARD OF HEARING: The National Fair Housing Alliance released its promised statement today on its contention that people who tested housing practices at a number of property rental companies around the country, including North Little Rock, found discrimination against the deaf or hard of hearing. Here’s the full release. The Alliance also has more details here. In the Arkansas  complaint, a property manager reportedly told a deaf person about the availability of two two-bedroom apartments at Lakewood Hills for $725 a month. A person with hearing made an inquiry at the same property and was also told about a third two-bedroom apartment for $50 a month less. A call to the property has so far not been returned. The release recounts a variety of problems encountered by telephone inquiries nationwide, from hangups to differing information.

* JUDICIAL CANDIDATES FILED: I mentioned this morning some jockeying underway relative to circuit judgeship elections in Pulaski County, complicated by the fact that Judge Jay Moody’s term is up but it’s unclear whether his nomination to a federal judgeship will be completed before he must file again. Luther Sutter announced this morning that he would run for Moody’s seat. Mike Reif, meanwhile, filed petitions today with signatures sufficient to qualify for the ballot and he’ll run for the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Collins Kilgore. Cathi Compton has also announced. Gathering 3,000 signatures amounted to a start on grassroots campaigning for Reif and saves him the filing fee of $5,500. Compton says she hopes to run for Moody’s seat if he does not, but she can’t oppose him as a long-time friend. If he files again, she’ll run for Kilgore’s seat, too.


* STRANGE BEDFELLOWS EDITION: Lobbyist Bradley Phillips guests an opinion piece today on Blue Hog Report. In it, he shows the Club for Growth/libertarian types behind the group that will fight the proposed constitutional amendment that will tighten some ethics rules but also provide a mechanism shorn of politics for higher legislator pay and loosed the term limits law by giving a lawmaker an option for a 16-year run in a single chamber (quasi-permanent incumbency.) I agree with Phillips that there should be no term limits. I’m not sure nibbling at it in a way not to rouse voters — and hiding behind “ethics” — is necessarily the best way to change things. But it’s the only way at the moment. Think about it. Do you want to give Nate Bell 16 years in the House?

* ONE TO WATCH: You remember the $220,000 boondoggle cooked up by Rep. Bruce Westerman? I refer to the cliche-ridden and fact-deficient report from Republican consultant, the Alexander Group, that was supposedly a road map for reducing Arkansas’ “welfare” costs. Some report and what a fix: Cut everything to the bone.  Well, Alexander has been at work for the wacky Republican governor of Maine. They got him for a bargain $54,000 to look at Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. This was the burr in Westerman’s saddle, too. The Maine governor didn’t want to release the report, but will finally do so tomorrow under pressure from the attorney general. It needs to be run through one of those copyright-infringement-detection programs to look for similarities with the Arkansas “work.”


* CHEESEPOCALYPSE — NO PUBLICITY STUNT: So say the fine PR folks at Velveeta about the termporary product shortage.