Rogers Officials Respond To City Attorney’s Lawsuit, Say He Doesn’t Live There
ROGERS (KFSM) – Rogers city officials say they broke no laws by stripping Ben Lipscomb of many of his city attorney duties because he is ineligible to serve.
Rogers Mayor Greg Hines and city council members filed the statements last week in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, as a response to Lipscomb’s lawsuit against the city. The response alleges Lipscomb does not actually live in Rogers and thus has no legal standing.
The city attorney filed the lawsuit in early November, alleging an ordinance passed by the Rogers City Council in September was unconstitutional because it singled him out and curtailed his job duties to prosecutorial matters only. The ordinance kept Lipscomb from representing Rogers in any other legal matters as the city attorney.
In a response filed Nov. 26, Hines and the Rogers aldermen state the city is immune from the punitive damages Lipscomb is seeking because it has legal protection as a municipality against such action. The response goes on to state Lipscomb “is not a resident of the city of Rogers and thus has no standing to bring this suit because he does not legally qualify to serve as the city attorney of Rogers.”
The response does not state where city officials believe Lipscomb lives, but the city attorney is listed by emergency crews and in directories as living at a home on Dearhurst Road in Rogers near Beaver Lake.
The filing does not respond to Lipscomb’s allegations that the ordinance in question is unconstitutional, stating a response is not necessary because the ordinance speaks for itself.
Several summons were carried out earlier this month in the case, but federal court records show no further court date has been set.
The Rogers City Council approved an ordinance Sept. 23 isolating the city attorney’s duties to prosecutorial matters. A new staff attorney position, filled by Chris Griffin, takes over civil matters and acts as the city’s legal advisor, jobs that Lipscomb states should fall under his own duties.
Griffin served as the deputy city attorney from 2005 to 2008, according to the city website.
When Lipscomb was initially elected city attorney in 1997, the city attorney duties outlined by city ordinance include all civil and criminal matters, as well as representing the city and acting as a legal adviser on Rogers city issues, the lawsuit states.
Lipscomb’s most recent four-year elected cycle began in 2010, the suit states.
The lawsuit names Mayor Greg Hines and city council members as defendants. The suit states Lipscomb’s duties were stripped as “punishment,” although it does not go into detail.
Lipscomb was involved in a criminal investigation by a special prosecutor in August and September. Crawford County prosecutor Marc McCune investigated whether Lipscomb broke any laws by using a city badge to gain entry into a VIP tent at a Miranda Lambert concert over the summer at the Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, according to investigation documents released by McCune’s office.
McCune announced Sept. 5 that Lipscomb would face no criminal charges in the matter. McCune was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case to avoid any conflicts of interest by local prosecutors.
The mayor told 5NEWS the same day that Lipscomb’s actions were “egregioius” and “troubling.”
“The greater concern is an elected official thinking it’s OK to use his position to gain access to a restricted area for the sole purpose of obtaining a cocktail,” Hines said. “If getting a drink is so important, buy the VIP tickets.”