A special prosecutor will be appointed to review the Arkansas State Police investigation into Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson.

A special prosecutor will be appointed to review the Arkansas State Police investigation into Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson.


On Monday, Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones signed an order directing State Prosecutor Coordinator Bob McMahan to select a special prosecutor to handle the matter.


Jones acted after Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter filed a motion seeking to recuse himself from the case.


In his motion, Hunter said the investigation is complete and resulted in allegations of a criminal nature against Johnson, who is the elected county clerk for Jefferson County.


"That because of the working relationship between Ms. Johnson, her office and my office, it’s in the best interest of justice and this community that a special prosecutor be appointed to review the investigation and make the decisions involving this matter," Hunter said in his motion.


There have been no charges filed against Johnson to date.


McMahan was out of his office Tuesday and could not be contacted.


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."


A message left for County Attorney Jackie Harris, who is representing Johnson, was not immediately returned.


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.