Political campaign signs are allowed in the flower bed adjacent to the Jefferson County Courthouse that has been at the center of a dispute this week, the county attorney has determined.

Political campaign signs are allowed in the flower bed adjacent to the Jefferson County Courthouse that has been at the center of a dispute this week, the county attorney has determined.


Jefferson County Attorney Jackie Harris said Thursday that, aside from a law that prohibits political activity of any kind within 100 feet of the main entrance to a polling place, there are no further restrictions on political activity in a public place.


"This would indicate that there is no problem with putting campaign signs in the flower bed next to the west courthouse parking lot," Harris said. "The most on-point law that I could find is from a 2011 Arkansas attorney general’s opinion. While it was pertaining to private property, the public forum analysis is pertinent. Outside of the restriction on political activity inside the 100 foot buffer zone, there are no further restrictions."


Harris said that in cases like this one, the law tries to err on the side of protecting free speech as opposed to restricting it.


Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said that she is thankful for clarity on the matter.


"I just wish this had been settled a long time ago," Hollingsworth said. "It would have prevented a lot of drama at the courthouse the last few campaign seasons. I am fine with the ruling and we will adhere to it."


Hollingsworth said that she is all for spirited campaigning.


"There are still certain limitations on where signs can be placed in terms of easements, right-of-ways and that sort of thing," Hollingsworth said. "Our Zoning Official Lakishia Hill sent letters out to all of the campaigns letting them know what the rules are."


A phone call to Jefferson County Judge Dutch King seeking comment was not returned.


The question over whether signs could be placed in the flower bed that runs along the Barraque Street side of the courthouse’s west parking lot was raised Tuesday.


Several of the signs for Ward 2 Pine Bluff alderman candidate Glen Brown Jr. were removed, along with those of other campaigns.


Glen Brown Sr. arrived on scene when he was informed about the situation and a confrontation developed between him, street department Director Rick Rhoden and Hollingsworth.


Hollingsworth said that she was contacted by an upset city resident who told her that campaign signs were in this flower bed and should not be because the area is considered city right-of-way.


Rhoden removed the signs, with help from Hollingsworth and Police Chief Jeff Hubanks.


A number of campaign signs were again present in the flower bed Wednesday afternoon.