Haile v. Johnston (Majority, with Concurring)Annotate this Case
In 1995, Josh Johnston pled guilty to a Class A misdemeanor hot-check violation. In 2014, Johnston filed to run as a candidate for Celburne County Sheriff. Brian Haile, a registered voter in Cleburne County, filed a petition for declaratory judgment and a writ of mandamus requesting that the circuit court find the misdemeanor hot-check violation an infamous crime that rendered Johnston ineligible to run for or hold public office. The circuit court ruled that Johnston's previous conviction rendered him eligible to run for or hold public office. Later in 2014, the circuit court entered an order sealing Johnston’s misdemeanor conviction. In 2015, Johnson filed as a candidate for Cleburne County Sheriff. Haile again filed a petition for declaratory judgment and writ of mandamus alleging that Johnston was ineligible to serve and that the court’s 2014 order controlled. The circuit court dismissed Haile’s petition, concluding that Johnston’s record was sealed and expunged, and Johnston was therefore eligible to run for and hold public office. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of Ark. Code Ann. 16-90-1417 dictates that it is as if Johnston never had the misdemeanor conviction, and therefore, Johnston is eligible to run for and hold office.