Means financial records sought


The Sentinel-Record   7-21-1977

Little Rock (AP) – The attorney general’s office has issued six subpoenas for documents related to its investigation of Judge Henry B. Means and is issuing about 27 subpoenas for witnesses.

The documents include some personal financial records of the judge, but Atty. Gen. Bill Clinton refused Wednesday to say which documents were under scrutiny.

He specifically declined to say whether they included any of the judge’s tax returns, or papers concerning the judge’s home loan, or records of any of the judge’s business dealings.

Clinton likewise declined to name any of the prospective witnesses, but he said the legislative committee investigating Means may choose to hear from some of the witnesses at a meeting next week.

The list of prospective witnesses does not include Means, Clinton said.

He specifically declined to say whether the list included Sen. Harold King of Sheridan, who represented one defendant in a drug case which ignited the Means controversy last fall.

In that case, the judge dismissed a charge against one man who pleaded innocent and gave only probation and fines to four who pleaded guilty.

The Committee on Legislative Affairs, which has a hearing Tuesday, is investigating to see if there is any good cause for recommending the removal of Means.

A dozen of the subpoenas for witnesses had been issued Wednesday and 15 others were being prepared for issuance this week.

The attorney general’s office also has obtained copies of the Code of Ethics statements Means has filed since the code became law in 1971.

As a public official – for 20 years he has been judge of the 7th Judicial Circuit, which includes Hot Spring, Grant, and Saline counties – he was required to file the statements.

The judges form for 1975 did not mention two items – his position as a director of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association at Malvern and the fact that he received more than $1,500 a year in that capacity.

Willful concealment of the information public officials are supposed to disclose on the form may be punished by removal from office. Failure to obey for other reasons may result in fines and jail terms.

In addition, the committee co-chairman, Rep. W. F. “Bill” Foster of England and Sen. Jim Caldwell of Rogers – met with Clinton, means and others this week about whether Means has practiced law while holding the office of judge.

The Constitution forbids law practice by judges. Means attorney, Ted Boswell of Bryant, took the position that the type of tasks performed by the judge apart from the bench did not constitute the practice of law.

Clinton said he would give the committee a summary of the work done so far in the investigation, outline what some of the witnesses might testify, and discuss whatever the committee wants to discuss when it decides what steps it wants to take next.

The committee probably will want to start hearing some witnesses, Clinton said.

At its last meeting, the committee went into a closed meeting to hear one of Clinton’s assistants, John Fincher, explain the work he has done so far in the probe. Some committee members were upset then because they did not believe Fincher had been moving quickly enough in the investigation. Clinton and Fincher apparently will be able to show considerable work at the next meeting.

When asked Wednesday if all of the prospective witnesses would testify in an “antiMeans” vein, Clinton said, “I don’t know how to answer that question – I’ll have to say no comment.”

Asked why Means was not on the list of prospective witnesses prepared by the attorney general’s office, Clinton said he was sure that the committee would be “willing and happy to hear from him at the appropriate time.”

While representing Means, Boswell has maintained that the committee does not have authority to engage in the kind of investigation it is conducting.

No charge has been filed against Means. The resolution which brought about the probe suggested no area of inquiry and did not limit how far into Means’ past the probe might go. Clinton said that the inquiry had “generally” dealt with activities which took place over the last three or four years. He refused to say specifically whether some of those activities took place prior to the last election in which Means won another term.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in 1977. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply