By Jean Duffey
Perhaps all that needs to be said about Gary Arnold is that when he became District Juvenile Judge, he awarded Dan Harmon custody of his very young great grandchildren. But, there’s so much more to say. In Mach of 1990, I asked Arnold if I could file charges and prosecute a rapist, he immediately said, “absolutely not” and gave no further explanation until I pressed him. He jumped up from behind his desk and said, “Go get me an empty coke bottle.” I looked confused and he repeated his command, so I went to the office break room, got the bottle, and started back to his office, but he met me in our secretary’s office. He took the bottle, held it out toward me, started wiggling it around, and said, “now try to stick your finger in the hole.” I said, “Gary, what is your point?” He said, “It’s hard to hit a moving target. It takes cooperation from the female.”
Arnold’s vulgarity was reprehensible and I couldn’t imagine him sinking any lower. I was wrong. In December of 1990, Arnold dropped the ball in a case where a 16-year-old deaf girl was raped by the 37-year-old son of a court reporter. The circumstances of that case were reported by the Benton Courier in a September 6, 1991 article. Stuart’s DNA matched that in the semen found on the little girl, which positively identified Stuart as the rapist. This was a slam dunk case, but Arnold managed to throw it away by failing to provide the DNA test results to Stuart’s defense attorney in time for proper trial preparation, so the case was dismissed. That unfortunate slip-up might be forgiven under circumstances where the prosecutor was working under a time-crunch deadline, but in this case, Arnold had two years to comply – TWO YEARS! This was either gross incompetence or dirty dealing, but another rapist walked, compliments of Gary Arnold. Arnold tried to appear like he was trying to correct his blunder by filing an appeal, but any half-witted attorney knows that there is no ground for appeal unless there was wrong doing on the opposing side, which there was not.
Going back to January 1989, Arnold took office as prosecutor for the Seventh Judicial District of Arkansas, a three-county district of Saline, Hot Spring, and Grant County. Although I campaigned for his opponent, Arnold asked me to work for him in Saline County. I knew nothing about the political climate there, but came in and immediately disrupted the well-established “good old boy” system where $2000 could buy off a DWI. Several prominent attorneys and a municipal court judge complained to Arnold, but he supported me. The county’s conviction rate for DWI’s alone shot up from 67% to 94% in just six months, which was politically beneficial for Arnold. However, Arnold made an about face when the district’s cops wanted Jean to be appointed to head a newly federally-funded drug task force. Several politically prominent public officials, that are now known to have been involved in illegal drug activity, opposed Jean’s appointment. Arnold, who had higher political ambitions, not only ceased to support Jean, but did what he could to discredit her. For his efforts, he was set up to run unopposed for the district’s juvenile judgeship, a position he has held since 1991 to the present. Arnold’s part in this story is detailed in “The Rise and Demise of Jean Duffey’s Task Force.”