RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – An Arkansas schoolteacher has a new trial date and is bringing an attorney after a judge issued a warrant for her arrest that she believes never should have been issued.
Kelly Young-Franklin is facing contempt of court charges for not paying fines on charges that the city attorney tried to drop five years ago.
Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne issued the warrant earlier this year. Young-Franklin said she paid the fines on time and has a receipt to prove it.
Young-Franklin was originally scheduled to stand trial in early June but it’s been rescheduled for 10 a.m. on July 6, according to Pope County District Court.
Young-Franklin, who has spoken publicly against Bourne, was denied a public defender several years ago in her original case but is now represented by former prosecutor turned defense attorney Kelly Ward from Kamps, Ward & Griffis law firm.
In October, Ward expressed concerns over Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne denying public defenders. At the time, Ward said she took on a case pro-bono after an intellectually disabled man facing harassment charges was denied a public defender by Bourne.
“The client could not pay. He didn’t have any money, he was unemployed, he was on disability, he was hearing impaired,” Ward said at the time. “He would kind of hang around, downtown Russellville, everyone knew him and he had a dog that he took everywhere with him. He would actually push the dog in a stroller.”
At the time, Bourne wrote in a statement that he always tries to make the right decision about appointing a public defender.
Russellville City Attorney Trey Smith tried dropping Young-Franklin’s original case several years ago.
Smith confirmed he requested a special prosecutor in Young-Franklin’s contempt of court case.
“I referred this case to the Prosecutor’s Office to assign a prosecutor to the case which does not have any prior history or connection to the original case,” Smith wrote.
Fifth Judicial District Chief Deputy Prosecutor Heather Patton has been assigned Young-Franklin’s contempt of court case, according to a court clerk.
In April, Bourne recused himself from Young-Franklin’s case.
Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp approved the recusal and issued an order appointing Crawford County District Court Judge Charles Baker to hear the case instead.
Bourne has been under investigation since at least October by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.