Peltz-Steele cited by former student, now state supreme court judge

Peltz-Steele cited in Arkansas Supreme Court opinion authored by former student, now associate justice

Peltz-Steele (Law Faculty) (old portrait)

Professor Richard Peltz-Steele was cited in an Arkansas Supreme Court opinion about the state freedom of information law (FOIA). That in itself is not unusual; Peltz-Steele's book on the FOIA, co-authored with University of Arkansas professors John Watkins and Robert Steinbuch, is often cited by Arkansas lawyers and judges.

This case was special because the author of the court opinion is a former student, and later colleague, of Peltz-Steele's from his service on the law faculty of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).  Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Rhonda K. Wood is an alumna of UALR Law and later worked there as an assistant dean.

The case involved the unsolved murder of Ruby Lowery Stapleton in 1963.  Arkansas State Police (ASP) refused public access to the investigation file, claiming the investigation remained ongoing.  Writing for the appellate court, Justice Wood recounted that the trial court found "sparse activity by ASP from 1965 until 2014."  Wood quoted the FOIA book, which opined that the "ongoing investigation" exemption should be refused when it "would excessively insulate the government against legitimate probes by the public and media into the performance of law-enforcement functions."  Wood concluded for the court, "This is a 54-year-old murder case. . . .  The victim’s family and the public are entitled to know how the officials in this case, i.e., law enforcement, performed their duties."


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