Clinton produces benefits of Means


The Sentinel-Record   7-27-1977

Little Rock  (AP) – Atty. Gen. Bill Clinton produced data Tuesday showing that Judge Henry B. Means received what may be prohibited benefit from his business connections and services.

Clinton, working for the Committee of Legislative Affairs, produced documents and drew out testimony about remuneration as the committee continued its probe to decide whether to recommend that Means be removed from office.

Means, 57, of Malvern, has been judge of the 7th Judicial Circuit for 19 years. The circuit includes Hot Spring, Saline, and Grant counties.

The attorney general focused on Means’ relationship with the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Malvern.

Harold Elder, the S&L president the last three years, said Means had been a director of the association for 23 years and had rendered title opinions for the association about three years. Clinton introduced checks showing that over the last 5 1/2 years Means had been paid $18,000 in director fees.

The attorney general also introduced copies of checks paid to Means for giving title opinions, which are legal statements aimed at establishing the validity of titles to property involved in the association’s loan business. These checks totaled $17,085 over the last 36 months.

One of the issues before the committee is whether Means’ title opinion work is the kind of law practice prohibited by the Constitution or other codes which apply to judges.

Means’ lawyer, Ted Boswell of Bryant, contends that the Constitution is talking about something else when it says judges should not practice law.

Elder did not call the work “legal services.”

But Clinton pointed out that the association had listed Means as the association attorney in association documents for 1974, 1975, and 1976. Elder said the association listed the name of Means as the association attorney because the association had no regular attorney and “we had to list somebody there.”

Under questioning by Sen. Stanley Russ of Conway, Elder later said the association was not required to list anyone, and that he was using only a figure of speech when he said the association “had to” list somebody there.

Clinton estimated that Means had done about 340 title opinions for the association out of the 519 which were rendered for the association over the last 3 1/2 years.

Elder said that giving the opinions did make the judge an employee of the association. He said it was a service which was compensated by the borrower of a loan from the association, rather than by the association itself.

But Clinton got affirmative answers from Elder when he suggested that in most cases the association alone received the opinion and that the borrower rarely communicated with Means or even knew he had done the title opinion.

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