RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – From the classroom to the courtroom, an Arkansas teacher is being ordered to face the same judge she says deprived her of her rights.
Kelly Young-Franklin faced Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne in 2017 after she was charged with obstruction and disorderly conduct. The city tried to dismiss those charges, but Bourne disagreed and then found her guilty.
Young-Franklin is arguably the most vocal defendant to call out Bourne publicly. She has been paying off her probation fines ever since Bourne found her guilty, and now finds herself in a new battle in his court.
“I have a warrant for my arrest,” Young-Franklin said. “Failing to pay [fines], even though I made the payment on it.”
Records show a warrant was issued in February on three counts of contempt of court, all of which are tied to Young-Franklin not paying her probation fines – or did she?
A receipt she provided to Working 4 You reveals the Pope County District Court accepted one of her payments on January 28, 2022, though she found that she was not in the clear.
“[The court] didn’t process the payment until three days later,” Young-Franklin said. “So it showed up in their system as I made a late payment, so they issued a warrant for my arrest.”
E-mails show Chief David Ewing with the Russellville Police Department tried to help the schoolteacher.
“We do have the warrant in hand, but I am instructing the Warrants Officer to wait about a week before contacting you over it. This should give you time to see if you can resolve your concerns with the court,” Ewing wrote. “If the warrant remains active and we are required to serve it, we will just contact you by phone and serve it that way with a court date. This would avoid you from having to drive from Helena-West Helena from where you currently live to have it served.”
Even with those efforts by the chief, Young-Franklin said the court served the warrant anyway, despite the receipt proving the payment was made on time.
“A call was made to him concerning this particular situation. He had the choice,” Young-Franklin said of Bourne. “He could’ve said ‘No, we’re not going to issue a warrant. I can see the timestamp, date.’ He went ahead and signed off on the warrant.”
It’s not the first time the judge has taken a hardline stance against her. In 2017, Young-Franklin said Bourne denied her a public defender despite her receiving governmental assistance.
Ever since, she’s publicly spoken against the judge to anyone who would listen, including at city council meetings in Russellville.
The schoolteacher said the entire situation makes her mad.
“It takes me away from the job that I love, and it makes me have to drive three hours away,” she explained.
The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has been investigating Bourne since at least October.
Young-Franklin hopes her charges get dropped but said her prior experience suggests anything is possible in Bourne’s courtroom.
“Do not make my life worse because someone is digging into your issues,” she said.
If Bourne finds her guilty, she could face more fees and could be sent to jail – again. Young-Franklin will be in court Tuesday.