Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue, who has held the post since January 2009, is seeking reelection in the non-partisan job. He will face Fort Smith attorney Mosie Boyd in the election set for May 24. Early voting in the county has begun.
Arkansas’ 28 prosecuting attorneys have the authority to investigate and file criminal charges, including actions against public bodies and elected officials.
Talk Business & Politics sent questions – with answers to each question limited to 200 words – to each candidate. Following are their responses.
• Explain why you believe you are the best qualified for the office?
Boyd: Sebastian County is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and many of us work hard every day to strengthen our economy and build a bright future. We deserve a prosecutor who works hard to find better solutions to keep our communities and law enforcement safe. A 10th generation American who founded True Grit Law Firm and The River Valley Economic
Development Council, Mosemarie Boyd has proven her commitment to supporting our
law enforcement teams & improving safety and fairness. Boyd has experience handling criminal cases in our district, circuit and federal courts, the Arkansas Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, the Eighth Circuit, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She graduated from UALR Law School and earned a M.A. in National Security leadership from
Georgetown. Passionate about stopping terrorists and drugs coming across our borders, Boyd
has supported law enforcement investigations right here in the River Valley. Boyd’s family served in WWI, WWII and the Cold War, and she is kin to a former Republican Congressman born in Cass County, Missouri.
Shue: I am the best qualified person for the position of Prosecuting Attorney for Sebastian County because I have dedicated my entire legal career to the prosecution of crime and criminals. I am endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. Not only have I had over 30 years of experience as a Prosecutor, I am the only candidate who has any experience as a Prosecutor. I have tried over 100 jury trials, including 9 Capital Murder cases. I have worked in Sebastian County as an Intern, as a Deputy, as Chief Deputy, and for over 13 years as your elected Prosecuting Attorney. As the elected Prosecutor, I am the supervisor of 15 Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys who constantly come to me for advice because I am the most experienced attorney in the office. My credo is: Seek the Truth, Protect the Innocent, Convict the Guilty. I strive to vigorously, effectively and fairly prosecute those who break the law and I am completely committed to safeguarding the citizens of Sebastian County – I have never run for any other elected office. To have noble, special, meaningful work is a blessing, and I want to keep working for you as your Prosecuting Attorney.
• What do you believe will be the top three challenges for the Prosecuting Attorney’s office in the coming years?
Boyd: Election Integrity. Our freedoms, liberty, and defense against tyranny depend upon
election integrity at every level. Our Prosecuting Attorney’s Office must avoid any appearance of putting a thumb on the scale of an election, i.e., by making an announcement the Friday before early voting starts on Monday—especially when a reported gag order prevents response and the alleged conduct occurred months earlier. Drug Market Intervention Strategies. To reduce overdose deaths caused by fentanyl coming across our borders from Mexico and China, our Prosecuting Attorney’s Office should implement successfully proven drug market intervention strategies. By working together as a team with faith community leaders and family members of offenders, we can do a better job of holding drug dealers accountable and improving safety for our communities and law enforcement. Working with three consecutive police chiefs running the model program in High Point, N.C., Boyd coordinated collaboration with Arkansas law enforcement leaders and presented these strategies at the Arkansas Association of Police Chiefs’ annual convention in 2012.
Protecting Children. Multiple law enforcement families in our community report that our Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is not doing enough to protect children from predatory crimes that rob them of their innocence.
Shue: The Opioid Crisis continues to be the top challenge for my office. Fentanyl and Oxycodone are absolute scourges in our community, and dealers of these substances are arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated as a matter of public safety. My office also works with the Sebastian County Opioid Task Force to seek alternatives for opioid addicts. I have expanded Drug Court, which reduces recidivism and offers a rehabilitative approach that transforms users into productive citizens. There is a delicate balance with regard to those Defendants who should be incarcerated versus those who should receive alternative sanctions. With violent/sexual offenders, the guilty offender should be incarcerated. Defendants often do not wish to plead to penitentiary sentences, and it takes an experienced Prosecutor to convict these Defendants at jury trials – I am the only candidate with that necessary jury trial experience.
Public safety is always my primary concern, but the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center is consistently overcrowded, and my Office works closely with the Sheriff’s Office and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee to alleviate the problem. My office reviews the jail lists daily and gathers information so that informed decisions can be made by the judges regarding pretrial release.
• What is a state and/or federal law/rule that could be changed or implemented that you believe would not only make the PA job better but also result in enhanced community safety?
Boyd: Misdemeanor Drug Court. By admitting misdemeanor offenders into Sebastian County Drug Court the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office would have more leverage to help people turn their lives around before they get involved in serious crimes. As a result, our prosecutors could reduce petty theft, help employees retain their jobs, keep families together, reduce prison costs, and improve community safety. Drug court has proven highly effective at transforming lives, but admission currently requires a felony charge.
Fairness. Thirty percent of Sebastian County residents are proud Americans from diverse backgrounds, law-abiding citizens who pay taxes, value safety and deserve fairness. Currently, 16 of 16 attorneys in our PA’s office are listed as “White/Not Hispanic Origin” on
Transparency.Arkansas.gov. About 10 years ago, Boyd asked the incumbent to please try to hire at least one attorney of color. His response: “No one applies.” When Boyd recently requested recruiting records, his FOIA response showed no records.
Term Limits for Prosecuting Attorneys. Since 1983, tax payers have paid $2,887,996.40 to the incumbent for his service in our PA’s office, according to Freedom of Information Act responses from the State of Arkansas and Sebastian County.
Shue: The Arkansas Habitual Offender Act needs to be amended to take into account the seriousness levels of the prior offenses and, to be fair, multiple convictions for the same offense or same spree need to be treated differently. For example, a person who is previously convicted for four non-violent forgeries in one night might be subject to a certain level of punishment, while a person who is previously convicted of four violent robberies over the course of ten years should be treated more severely. Second, the Department of Community Correction needs to have a budget increase by the General Assembly to increase the number of probation officers, which will, in turn, increase the supervision over the non-violent offenders who are on probation. This will also have an effect of improving re-entry for Defendants. These officers will then be available for the expansion of our Specialty Courts, which rely on them to monitor compliance by the participants. I have been elected by the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association as Legislative Chairman for the last four legislative sessions and have drafted many major bills that have been enacted as law that have improved the criminal justice system. I plan on continuing that work.