Citing the possibility of a conflict of interest, Jefferson County Attorney Jackie Harris said Thursday he will not represent County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson in any potential criminal proceeding.

Citing the possibility of a conflict of interest, Jefferson County Attorney Jackie Harris said Thursday he will not represent County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson in any potential criminal proceeding.


Johnson was investigated by the Arkansas State Police and, according to Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter, that investigation resulted in "allegations of a criminal nature" against Johnson.


On Monday, Hunter recused himself from involvement and asked that a special prosecutor be appointed, and Thursday, Harris said he was also removing himself from the incident and is recommending that Johnson hire her own attorney.


State Prosecutor Coordinator Bob McMahan said Thursday afternoon he has received the case file from Hunter and plans to name a special prosecutor Friday who will review the file to determine if criminal charges are warranted.


There have been no charges filed against Johnson to date.


Hunter has declined to discuss the nature of the investigation or what prompted it.


Johnson, who is currently serving her third term as Jefferson County clerk, defeated Trey Ashcraft in the May Democratic primary and faces no opposition in November.


Contacted Tuesday afternoon, Johnson said she had no comment and "no knowledge of it."


Although the nature of the investigation has not been revealed, there have been complaints about Johnson during the political filing period this year when Johnson accepted the filing papers for former Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., Lloyd Franklin and Loretta Whitfield, although a circuit judge, the prosecutor and Arkansas Secretary of State said the offices they filed for — mayor of Pine Bluff, city treasurer and city clerk, respectively — were not actually up for election.


Additionally, James Murry, who filed as an independent candidate for Jefferson County sheriff, was told by the clerk’s office that he did not have enough signatures to qualify to get on the ballot.


After Murry went to court, an agreement between his attorney and Jefferson County Attorney Jackie Harris allowed a review of those petitions, resulting in Murry being placed on the ballot.


Johnson was also accused of allowing Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairman Ted Davis to use the office’s fax machine to fax documents to Little Rock and was the subject of an ethics complaint when she used her county-issued vehicle to attend her own fundraiser.


The State Division of Legislative Audit recently completed an audit of all Jefferson County offices but the results of that audit have not been released.


In 2005 former Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Jeanette Hence resigned after an audit indicated she had used a county-issued credit card to purchase more than $14,000 inappropriately over a 27-month period. In 2007 Annette Branch, who was elected Jefferson County circuit clerk, resigned after an audit showed a total of $5,500 in improper cash transfers had been made from the clerk’s account.