What the Faulkner? Cody Hiland & Those Pesky Judicial Rules

Cody Hiland currently serves as Prosecuting Attorney for Faulkner and Van Buren counties. While technically a non-partisan office, prosecuting attorney is not an office that has near as many limitations on political activities as, say, running for Court of Appeals does.

Oh, yeah…Cody Hiland is also running for Court of Appeals.

Arkansas Rule of Judicial Conduct 4.1(A)(6) prohibits a judicial candidate from publicly identifying himself as a member of a political party. Which might have made it a little strange if you live in Conway and saw this in your mailbox:

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Of course, you don’t have to vote in the Republican primary to vote for Cody Hiland. If you live in the right district, you can vote for him in any primary–including a non-partisan ballot. That said, this mailer might not have caused you too much pause; after all, Hiland has made no secret of his Republican leanings, with seemingly every billboard and sign between Conway and Clinton, to say nothing of his website and Facebook page, touts him as a Conservative.1

What might throw you off a little, given what you know about Hiland’s political leanings, would be if you lived in Clinton and you received this mailer:

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Zuh?!

Look, the lack of proper punctuation or the word “on” notwithstanding, Hiland would have been totally fine saying “vote for Cody Hiland Tuesday, March 1st.” He would have been totally fine2 saying “vote for Cody Hiland Tuesday, March 1st[,] in the primary election.” He could even have said to vote for him “in the non-partisan primary,” though that wouldn’t be a particularly helpful campaign message.

The only thing he could not do was to “publicly identify himself…as a candidate of a political organization.” Meaning that these mailers appear to being two violations of Rule 4.1(A)(6).

In fact, to the extent one might argue that merely referencing the Democratic or Republican primaries does not definitively identify Hiland as a candidate of those parties, you still have the issue of Rule 4.1(A)(11), which, as we discussed in the posts about Dan Kemp, prohibits “knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, mak[ing] any false or misleading statement.”If these mailers are not actual identification of Hiland as a candidate of those parties, they are almost certainly misleading statement designed to give that impression.

While we’re here, there is also this:

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That’s…not good. Rule 4.1(A)(3) specifically, unequivocally says that a judicial candidate cannot “publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for any public office.” Hiland is a judicial candidate. Tim Ryals is a candidate for public office. Hiland’s endorsement is improper on its face.

Just as I was about to wrap up this post, I thought to myself, given how lax Hiland has been in following the judicial rules, I bet I can find something improper in his campaign finance reports in under five minutes of searching. Sho’nuff:

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I know shady PACs well enough to know that there’s no such thing as a registered Eddie Joe Williams PAC. There is a PAC called GoEddieJoePAC3

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–but, obviously, that’s not the same thing. A candidate cannot put the wrong name on a PAC on a CC&E. So, I suppose Mr. Hiland should consider this his “should have known” notice for purposes of the Ethics Commission’s affirmative defense.

As for the judicial-rule violations, if someone from Hiland’s district wants to file a complaint over those, you can do so here.

 


  1. Almost always with a capital C, because…Reagan? Something like that.

  2. Again, not accounting for the lack of punctuation or the word “on.”

  3. The intentional lack of spaces makes it much harder to find for the average person using the Secretary of State’s horrendous website.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Why is “swing a dead cat” still a descriptor? C’mon, man….. We can be more creative than that.

  2. We could really use you swinging through Union county for a day or 2 and filling out a few folders of ethics violations.

  3. Mainly because I don’t like cats, I reckon. That said, I am going to see if I can make “swing a dead probiscus monkey” a thing.

  4. Swing through Jacksonville and see all the mess with the new school district. I wonder how many ethics violations you could find.

  5. What is the problem with the descriptor? Holy shit, if we have gotten protective of the deceased felines, we have lost the war.

  6. Did he endorse Ryals before or after he filed to run himself? If he did it before he was an official candidate, and hasn’t made any new endorsement since then, would it be a violation?

  7. If common sense serves me correctly, and I can read a calendar the right way, I believe October 31st occurs prior to November 4th. Doing minimal research yields that the endorsement of Ryals occurred on October 31st & the announcement of candidacy for Court of Appeals occurred on November 4th. It makes me wonder if any research was done at all before this article was posted.

  8. I have one that says “Cody Hiland was elected as a Republican prosecuting attorney…”
    and “Vote for Cody Hiland Tuesday, March 1st in the Republican Primary”
    Does this go too far???
    BTW I have never been a registered republican.

  9. I did on this one. I do that every now and then if the primary target audience for a post is a geographical area where I don’t normally get a lot of traffic from Facebook. Van Buren County, Sebastian County (until recently), etc. That said, 95% of the views on this one have been organic last I checked, so the payment might not have been all that necessary this time.

  10. Even more basic research would show that statewide media was already reporting Mr. Hiland’s imminent candidacy before the endorsement. It’s pretty sad when a judicial candidate thinks that he can avoid the letter of an ethical rule by making an endorsement after he decides to be a candidate but before he officially files.

  11. Matt Campbell is a slimmy liberal who uses his law position to target conservatives!! Go after your slimmy kind like Hillary!!!

  12. You’re clearly brilliant. If “liberal” is a pejorative, label me accordingly. But, I have to ask: what is a “law position”? Relatedly: do you use your ignorant douchebag position to target liberals?

  13. Douchebag is a turn used in the 60’s!!! I rest my case of you being a liberal. Your just slimmy!

  14. You use your position as a lawyer to file suits on conservatives and issues that are against democratic positions.

  15. I have another one that just has the vote in the Republican primary bit but it didn’t raise the same red flags as this one.

  16. Blue Hog Report You have a newspaper? Go back to college! BTW, it’s you’re. NOT, your.

  17. Prosecuting Attorneys don’t have a boss , Or can you go complain to someone about this other than ethics in-which you would more than likely have the wrath of him down on you .

  18. Generally I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, quite nice post.

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