SUMMARY OF SERVICE AS ATTORNEY GENERAL
Winston Bryant was elected Arkansas Attorney General in November 1990, began serving in January 1991 and served for the next eight years (two terms). The attorney general traditionally had been viewed as only defending the interests of the state before various judicial bodies and quasi-judicial tribunals. General Bryant energized the office and expanded its reach to not only represent the state and its agencies, but to represent the interests of the people of the state.
The focal point of the Outreach Division is the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program. The program assists victims of crime and their families by providing payments for medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, mental health expenses and funeral expenses. The program is not financed by tax dollars, but by fees assessed by the court system on criminals convicted of crimes. Under General Bryant's leadership millions of dollars were awarded to deserving victims and families.
"Smart Choices, Better Chances" is an innovative program begun by General Bryant to educate Arkansas' young people about state laws and the impact crime can have upon their lives. The program has been a tremendous success and thousands of young Arkansans have graduated from the program.
General Bryant founded the Arkansas Youth Suicide Prevention Commission, which is a private nonprofit organization, dedicated to reducing youth suicides in Arkansas. In addition to working with the schools throughout the state to educate students about the warning signs of suicide, the Commission holds an annual conference in Little Rock, which attracts up to eight hundred participants.
General Bryant was a strong advocate for Arkansas utility consumers, fighting in their behalf before the Arkansas Public Service Commission and the state courts. Bryant put the telecommunications, gas and electric consumers first and worked to keep their rates as low as possible.
General Bryant asked for authority from the Arkansas General Assembly to enforce the federal and state environmental laws in Arkansas. The General Assembly passed legislation and granted, for the first time,
specific environmental authority to the attorney general. General Bryant filed hundreds of cases to protect Arkansas' land, water and air.
General Bryant issued approximately 2500 opinions, during his tenure as attorney general, to state officials, agencies, members of the General Assembly, county election commissioners, and prosecuting attorneys to give them legal direction to discharge their official state duties.
General Bryant was a watchdog for the consumers of Arkansas. Hundreds of lawsuits were filed to protect consumers and to insure that the marketplace was a place that people got what they paid for and that advertising fairly represented the product or service being promoted. Millions of dollars were returned to consumers who were defrauded.
Under the leadership of General Bryant, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was one of the top units in the country. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has the responsibility for investigating criminal allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of residents by employees of long-term care facilities in Arkansas. This responsibility also includes the protection of the elderly in nursing homes and of the developmentally disabled in Human Development Centers.
CORRECTIONS AND PUBLIC SAFETY
The attorney general represents the Arkansas State Police Commission, the Board of Corrections and Community Punishment, the Arkansas Crime Information Center and the Arkansas Post Prison Transfer Board. By representing these agencies, General Bryant and his staff handled numerous cases in
state and federal courts to defend against lawsuits brought by inmates pursuant to §1983 for alleged violations of constitutional rights. The attorney general also represents Arkansas State Troopers and
state criminal investigators.
The attorney general represents the citizens of Arkansas, state judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers in all appeals to appellate courts by persons convicted of criminal offenses in state courts, as well as those cases that proceed through the federal courts all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.
A second aspect of the attorney general's role in the criminal justice system concerns post-conviction or collateral attacks on judgments of conviction. At least one-third of the appellate caseload consists of post-affirmance attacks on convictions, the most typical being a habeas corpus proceeding in which a convicted defendant seeks release from prison.
Under General Bryant's leadership, the Criminal Division in the Attorney
General's Office compiled one of the best records in the country. He argued two cases before the U. S. Supreme
Court regarding the constitutionality of Arkansas' death penalty statutory scheme and a 4th Amendment search and seizure
The Civil Division is the largest division in the attorney general's office and is divided into two sections: Litigation and State Agencies. The Litigation Section represents the state, its agencies and its officials in
approximately 400 cases annually. The Litigation Section also defends the constitutionality of legislation passed by the General Assembly and initiatives enacted by the people of Arkansas.
The State Agency Section in the Civil Division represents approximately 100 state agencies and serves as "in house" counsel to those agencies. The State Agency Section also provides technical and legal assistance to state commissions and the legislature on such issues as school funding, redistricting, tax issues, constitutional issues and other issues of state import.
The landmark case, U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Hill, was handled by the Civil Division before the Arkansas Supreme Court and General Bryant argued the case before the U. S. Supreme Court. Additionally, General Bryant settled the "tobacco litigation",
State of Arkansas v. American Tobacco, et al., for $l.6 Billion, the largest settlement in the State's history.
General Bryant proposed over 200 legislative proposals, which were adopted by the Arkansas General Assembly during his tenure as attorney general. The criminal laws, environmental laws, deceptive trade practices act, child pornography laws, asset forfeiture laws, victim reparation laws, professional fundraising laws, regulation of telemarketer laws, medicaid provider fraud laws, and others were
greatly strengthened. General Bryant also authored the "Lemon Law" to protect new car buyers and the "Salvage Title Law" to protect used car buyers. Stalking was made a felony offense and criminal and civil penalties were enhanced to protect seniors and disabled persons.