RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Minutes before an Arkansas schoolteacher stood trial a deal was made between the defense and prosecution.
Kelly Young-Franklin was facing contempt of court.
Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne issued an arrest warrant after the court believed her payment was late. Young-Franklin claims she paid on time and had the receipt.
The fines stem from a case five years ago that the Russellville City Attorney wanted to drop back then, but Judge Bourne disagreed.
Before the Arkansas Supreme Court’s special appointed judge could decide who was right and who was wrong, a deal was struck.
Young-Franklin agreed to plead guilty Wednesday on contempt of court, in exchange, her court fines would be cut in half from $1,255 to $500. The negotiated plea included that her case would be sealed from the public after she pays her fines by December 6.
Young-Franklin’s attorney, Kelly Ward, said this solidifies why there’s a right to counsel.
“I think Ms. Young-Franklin, the whole time wanted someone to speak for her to be able to look at the case, look at evidence and help to advocate for her position,” Ward said.
Pope County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Heather Patton took on the case when Russellville’s City Attorney recused himself.
Working 4 You wanted to know if the arrest warrant should ever have been issued.
“I have no comment,” Patton said while leaving court.
Patton would not answer any other questions.
“I think what we can really take away from — in criminal cases when you have zealous advocates on both sides, you get a resolution that ends up in the right position,” Ward said.
Ward could not comment on whether Young-Franklin will attempt to have her original charges from several years ago overturned.
Bourne was not seen in court Wednesday because of the state Supreme Court appointment.
Bourne has been under investigation by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission since at least October.