The Arkansas Supreme Court building Benjamin Hardy

Last month, state Attorney General Tim Griffin announced his office would appeal two recent circuit court rulings in favor of the Arkansas Board of Corrections, opening another chapter in the constitutional showdown between the corrections board and Gov. Sarah Sanders and her allies.

Along with his notice of appeal of Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s dismissal of Griffin’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the corrections board, Griffin also filed a motion to expedite that appeal — or, alternatively, a motion to disqualify the board’s attorney, Abtin Mehdizadegan. (Typically, the attorney general would represent the Board of Corrections in a lawsuit, but in this case the board hired outside counsel. Griffin, after all, has made it clear for months he is not on the board’s side.) Whether Mehdizadegan’s hiring was proper is part of Griffin’s ongoing dispute with the corrections board, and Fox has so far sided with the board.


Griffin is now looking to the Arkansas Supreme Court for help. But according to today’s Supreme Court syllabus, Griffin’s request to expedite the case has been denied. Because the court refused to expedite consideration, Griffin’s appeal brief is due by April 10. The board’s response will be due 30 days after Griffin’s is filed.

Griffin’s motion to disqualify Mehdizadegan remains pending. According to Mehdizadegan, other procedural issues are also on the horizon.


“We will need to provide a response to the Motion to Disqualify,” Mehdizadegan told the Arkansas Times via email. He will also likely file a motion to dismiss the appeal, he said, because “the order from which they appeal is not final — it was dismissed without prejudice — and because, by abandoning all pending and unresolved claims in the FOIA action (all of them), they have effectively abandoned subject matter jurisdiction.”

The second case is a lawsuit the corrections board filed against Sanders in December over who has constitutional authority in the state prison system. Circuit Judge Patti James ruled in favor of the board in January. But the cases overlap so much that Mehdizadegan believes the two appeals should be consolidated and treated as a single case by the Supreme Court.


“I previously asked [Senior Assistant Attorney General] Noah Watson whether they would agree to consolidate and to my continued representation on appeal,” Mehdizadegan said. “Noah objected to both requests.”

Mehdizadegan said he finds the attorney general’s objection to consolidating the cases “surprising, because consolidation would have the effect of saving time and money for everyone.” He said that he does “not believe the attorney general cares at all about taxpayer expense.” Why? “If he did,” Medizadegan said, “he wouldn’t have sued his own client.”


The attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment regarding both today’s decision and the question of consolidating the two cases.