North Little Rock attorneys announce plans to replace retiring Sixth District Prosecuting Attorney in 2022
August 2-8, 2021
By Daily Record Staff
North Little Rock attorneys Alicia Walton and Will Jones have both announced their intentions to replace Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley, who announced on May 12 he will step down in 2022 for Health reasons.
The 68-year Jegley has served as the chief prosecuting attorney for the largest judicial district in Arkansas for eight terms and 24 years. The Sixth Judicial District is one of 23 circuit courts in Arkansas that serves Perry and Pulaski County. The sprawling district also includes 17 divisions with one presiding judge each and eight circuit courtrooms that includes a specialized juvenile and drug court.
In his role, Jegley’s caseload includes prosecuting criminal cases in Little Rock, Arkansas’ largest city. Jegley who replaced former Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, also oversees a staff of 47 deputy prosecutors that handle thousands of cases each year.
On the same day Jegley announced he was not running for re-election, North Little Rock public defender Alicia Walton said that she intends to run for the open position.
In a recent interview, Walton said she decided to run for office left vacant by Jegley because the prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’ largest judicial district chooses who to charge, what to charge, and how most cases are resolved. She said the office represents a substantial investment of community resources but must serve all citizens.
“I have not only worked extensively within the criminal justice system, but I have also been a crime victim. With that experience in mind, I will work to empower victims, dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, provide a pathway for offenders to seek redemption, and provide more diversionary programs for those with mental health and substance abuse challenges,” said Walton. “It is time for the criminal justice system to work for all of us.”
Walton is a graduate of the University of Arkansas Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law and currently works as a public defender for the Sixth District. She is also veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Arkansas Army National Guard. A criminal law attorney by trade, Walton practices in a wide range of local, circuit and specialty courts across the state.
In her race to become the new chief prosecutor for Pulaski County and the city of Little Rock, Walton will face former Jegley protégé Will Jones who announced his candidacy in early June. Jones was a former deputy prosecutor under Jegley for 11 years before moving to the Arkansas attorney general’s office and working for Democrat Dustin McDaniel and Republican Leslie Rutledge, who is running for governor in 2022. Jones is now the chief deputy prosecutor specializing in homicide cases in the Pine Bluff-based 11th Judicial Circuit.
“As Prosecuting Attorney, I will work to unite our community, help victims of crime, and create a safer place for the citizens of Pulaski and Perry Counties,” said Jones. “For twenty years, families have trusted me to navigate the criminal justice system with them. This trust has allowed me to achieve justice for countless citizens whose lives have been impacted by crime. I will use this experience to bring a new energy, a new direction, and systematic changes to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.”
In his most recent term in office, Jegley has had a somewhat combative relationship with the city’s Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Little Rock Police (LRPD) Chief Keith Humphreys, the city’s first duly elected Black mayor and second Black police chief.
That contentious relationship was heightened shortly after Scott took office in 2019 and LRPD officer Charles Starks shot and killed Bradley Blackshire on Feb. 22. Starks, who was later fired by Humphreys for violating department policy, was later cleared and ultimately did not face criminal charges for the fatal shooting of the 30-year Black man.
Amid the social movement calling for judicial and police reforms in Arkansas and across the U.S. following the George Floyd murder last summer by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Jegley’s office has not offered a public statement on judicial or police reform and has remained largely silent concerning the national unrest.
If elected, Jones said his administration will institute a community safety program where prosecutors will be assigned to work with community leaders to combat specific problems in local neighborhoods. He said also said he will implement new procedures for officer-involved shootings to promote transparency and accountability.
“I believe in the power of restorative justice and its integral part in rebuilding community trust,” said Jones. “Restorative justice is understanding the difference between those defendants who have made a mistake, need help and another chance, and those defendants who require more severe punishment. While we will show empathy, we must never lose sight of the victims and their right for justice.”
Jones received his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville and his Bachelor of Arts from Henderson State University. He has also served as an adjunct professor at the Bowen Law School.
No other candidates besides Walton and Jones have announced their intentions to run for Jegley’s soon-to-be vacated position. The non-partisan election is scheduled for May 2022.