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Now-former officer arrested in drug case


HOXIE — A now-former Hoxie police officer is facing at least four felonies after his arrest in connection with a drug case, according to authorities.

Joshua Lynn Barber, 42, of Jonesboro was arrested Friday on suspicion of simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, delivery of Schedule IV or V, possession of Schedule IV or V with purpose to deliver and use of a communications device. A $50,000 bond was set by Craighead County District Judge Tommy Fowler during a probable cause hearing Monday.

Barber is set to be arraigned June 26 in Craighead County Circuit Court in Jonesboro.

Hoxie Mayor Dennis Coggins said Monday that Barber was terminated when he was arrested in the case. Coggins said while he did not know any specifics on the case, he said he was notified about the investigation about a week or so ago and was notified by the police chief over the weekend about the arrest.

Coggins said he was thankful and appreciative of the investigation and the arrest.

The 2nd Judicial District Drug Task Force said that Barber was arrested as he pulled into the Hoxie Police Department parking lot Friday.

“Barber’s arrest stems from a multi-county operation that was initiated after the 2JDTF received information that Barber had been selling narcotics while he was in a police uniform and armed with his service weapon,” the DTF said in a media release. “Agents with the 2JDTF were able to ascertain that Barber was a parttime police officer for the city of Hoxie, but a resident of

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Jonesboro. 2JDTF Agents then conducted a controlled purchase from Barber while he was in uniform and armed with his service weapon, prior to arriving on-duty for the city of Hoxie.”

On Monday, authorities released a probable cause affidavit in connection with the arrest. The affidavit noted that Barber was arrested on a bench warrant on drugs and weapons charges in the case.

Agents then searched the vehicle that Barber was driving.

“At the time of Barber’s arrest, a search warrant for the vehicle Barber was driving was secured and upon execution of the warrant, Agents located 22 Xanax tablets which Barber does not have (a) prescription for,” according to the affidavit.

Authorities also believe Barber used his cell phone to arrange for the “delivery violation.”

Barber is being represented by attorney Randel Miller of Jonesboro in the case. Other than confirming the $50,000 bond set in the case, Miller declined to comment about the case when reached for comment Monday afternoon.


State Supreme Court overturns ruling that new voting laws are unconstitutional

LITTLE ROCK — A circuit court ruling in March 2022 that said four voting laws were 'unconstitutional' has been reversed and dismissed by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The highest court's opinion came two years after Judge Wendell Griffen ruled that Acts 249, 728, 736, and 973 were unconstitutional. The laws were challenged by the League of Women Voters of Arkansas as well as five residents of the state.

“It is evident that these laws will continue to pose significant challenges to voters, particularly older Arkansans and those living in rural areas,” Bonnie Miller, president of the League of Women Voters of Arkansas, said in a statement.

Griffen's ruling would rely on the 'fundamental right to vote' and said the laws did not provide a 'compelling government interest' or that the rules were the 'least-restrictive infringement' on rights afforded under the Arkansas Constitution.

In the opinion, written by Associate Justice Cody Hiland, while the right to vote is fundamental, 'the right to vote in a particular manner is not guaranteed.'

Hiland said that many courts have ruled absentee voting is not a fundamental right and the U.S. Supreme Court said restrictions on it do not disenfranchise voters. He also called Griffen's decision an 'error of law' because the state was 'not required to prove a compelling state interest.'

'Upon examination of the plain language of the Acts, it is clear the fundamental right to vote is not at stake here,' Hiland said in the opinion.

Plaintiffs in the case argued that Act 736 would make it harder for voters who want to submit an absentee ballot by making the 'signature-matching process more unreliable and error-prone.' That law allows county clerks to compare signatures on the absentee ballot with the person's voter registration and if the signatures don't match, 'the clerk will not send an absentee ballot to the applicant.'

It also requires that county clerks 'provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee ballot applications.'

They also said Act 973, which moved the deadline for absentee ballots from the Monday before an election day to the Friday before, disenfranchises voters by shortening the deadline. They said Act 249 would also disenfranchise voters by 'enacting a strict voter-identification requirement.'

That law removes a section that allowed voters the ability to sign an affidavit if they didn't provide an ID at their polling location. The new law would allow a voter to fill out a provisional ballot and then go to the county clerk or local election board by noon on the Monday after the election to verify their identity.

Plaintiffs also called Act 728 'unnecessarily vague' and 'impede nonpartisan votersupport activities' that generally support voters waiting in line. That law restricts people from entering or remaining within 100 feet of a polling location while voting is underway, except for 'lawful purposes.'

Hiland called the four laws 'neutral on their face' and that the evidence provided against them 'was only speculative' because the laws were not effective at the time of the lawsuit 'because the Acts are facially neutral and do not contain any discriminatory classes, equal protection was not invoked.'

Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin called the ruling “a total victory for Arkansas voters and the security of our elections moving forward.”

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