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Court action delayed as crowd waits for judge

In a day marked more by waiting for the judge than by listening to defandants’ cases, Van Buren County Circuit Court was held in Clinton on Monday.

Circuit Judge Charles E. Clawson Jr. was one hour and 48 minutes late for the 9 a.m. scheduled start time. Shortly before his arrival, Deputy Prosecutor Jordan Crews walked in to the courtroom and joked he had “tried to race him up here.”

When Clawson arrived, he said, “Yes, I’m late, but I already started in Conway.”

The story was the same after lunch. Clawson said the court stood in recess until 1 p.m., but he didn’t return to the bench until 3:05 p.m. The cause of the delays apparently is because Clawson has taken over much of embattled Judge Mike Maggio’s docket.

In the time Clawson did spend on Van Buren County cases, several defendants were sentenced to probation and some to prison.

• Steven Ray Nunley’s attorney Helen Rice Grinder of Conway was allowed to enter a guilty plea outside the courtroom for her client. Nunley pleaded guilty to a charge reduced to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to six months probation, according to Crews. Nunley, 54, originally was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in October 2012.

• Brian David Hardaway was sentenced to 120 days in county jail with 104 days of jail credit, a 36-month suspended imposition of sentence and ordered to pay restitution of $1,075. Several charges against him were nol prossed. Among those he pleaded guilty to were theft by receiving, misdemeanor criminal trespass, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

• Gary Wayne Holley, wearing white jail garb that said “trustee,” was ordered back to court on July 1 on kidnapping, domestic battery-second degree, and several drug charges. His bond is set at $100,000.

• David Allen Stain, 33, was sentenced to 72 months at the Department of Correction after pleading guilty to theft of property, theft by receiving, residential burglary and commercial burglary. He admitted to stealing items that prosecutors say were worth more than $10,000 in Fairfield Bay.

• Eric Riggin, 29, was sentenced to 12 months in the county jail after pleading guilty to theft of property, commercial burglary and residential burglary. Riggin originally faced 29 charges, but many of them were nol prossed by the state Monday. He also was ordered to pay restitution of more than $4,000.

• Michael Dean Williams, 54, was sentenced to 60 months probation and one year in the county jail after pleading guilty to possession, use and delivery of drug paraphernalia, and driving while intoxicated. He admitted having items to manufacture methamphetamine. Williams received 168 days of jail credit. Several charges against Williams were nol prossed.

• Rickie Wright, 31, was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to failure to register as a sex offender or report address change. He was credited with 55 days already served and also was given a 36-month suspended imposition of sentence.

• Travis Whitson was sentenced to 36 months probation after pleading guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia-meth. “I had a pipe used for smoking meth,” the 41-year-old told the court.

• Benjamin Soles received one-year probation after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of unlawful burning. Originally, he was charged with arson after allegedly burning down a shed on his parents’ property.

• Rebecca Hardy, 27, was sentenced to 24 months in a regional correctional facility after admitting she had violated conditions of her parole.

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