Tuesday, January 17, 2017


In two previous posts (here and here) we have detailed less that cooperative response from David Ethredge, the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney, and Rhonda Watkins, the Boone County Circuit Clerk, in their complying with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.


This evening at approximately 6:30PM, the publisher of this blog received a certified envelope from Watkins that contained these documents.  

The first document in the packet was a copy of a Motion to Seal, for a civil court case.

Back on December 16th, we sent a FOI request to the Boone County Circuit Clerk using the email address "jsteen@boonecounty-ar.gov".  We obtained that email address from an online document located at here.

We never received a response, nor did we receive any message from the county email server that the email address we used was not active.

Then on January 9th, we contacted the Boone County Circuit Clerk's office by telephone, inquiring as the why they had failed to respond to our FOI request. 

Watkins advised us that she never received the email and after telling her the email address we used.  Watkins stated that that email address was for the previous clerk.  We advised her that it was still active as it was not bounced back from the county server as undeliverable. Watkins asked us to send it to her so we forwarded it to her at "rwatkins@boonecounty-ar.gov.

We also sent a FOI request for filings in a civil case filed by Shannia Rutt against Brittney Breedlove.


Watkins tried the same lame excuse that Ethredge tried to use in not providing his file for the documents filed in Breedlove criminal case - that there was an order sealing the file.

As we pointed out in our previous posts, the one sealed record that Ethredge provided to us clearly states that once Breedlove entered a guilty plea, the seal was lifted. We stated our position to her and she had no response.

As you can see, Watkins maintains that order sealing the criminal case does not state that the seal is lifted upon a guilty plea.

Watkins did not provide any of the documents from the civil case, except for the motion to seal (more on that in a minute) and her failure to provide the documents is a violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Attentive readers will have noticed that the motion to seal in the civil case was faxed to the circuit clerk's office at 14:30 or 2:30 p.m. and filed at 2:41 p.m. Our email to her reminding her that the time for her to respond had passed was sent at 11:30 a.m.  We checked for additional filing in the criminal case as there was a hearing for a petition that day and just out of curiosity we looked at the civil case.  We noticed that Rutt had filed the motion to seal and mentioned that in our last email to Watkins.

Did Watkins contact Rutt and tell her that a FOI request for the case filings had been received?  There is no provision in the AFOIA to do so. 

Watkins had and has an obligation under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act to provide the filings

Rutt did not seek a temporary restraining order to prevent any release of documents and her son, who is now an adult (18yrs), is not a party to the action.  Nor is his child (any guess on who the mother is?).  

There is nothing to prevent Watkins from complying with our FOI request except her unwillingness to do so.

Watkins has positioned herself to be charged with a criminal offense for her willful violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Ethredge has not made any further contact with the publisher of this blog, nor has he provided a copy of his file. Like Watkins, Ethredge has positioned herself to be charged with a criminal offense for her willful violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

We will pursue all legal remedies available to us and Ethredge and Watkins might have actions filed against them other that an appeal of denial of rights under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.