Judge Woods Taken off Case: Tucker Charges Reinstated

By Seper, Jerry | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 16, 1996 | Go to article overview

Judge Woods Taken off Case: Tucker Charges Reinstated


Seper, Jerry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


A federal appeals court yesterday reinstated fraud charges against Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and disqualified the U.S. district judge in Little Rock who dismissed the case as being too friendly with President and Mrs. Clinton.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis said Judge Henry Woods erred{D-} in ruling last year that independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr lacked jurisdiction to bring a June 7 indictment against the governor as part of the Whitewater inquiry.

The appeals court panel also said the judge's long-standing ties to the president and first lady represent the appearance of a conflict of interest. The panel ordered Chief Judge Stephen M. Reasoner of the Eastern District of Arkansas to assign a new judge to the case.

"Judge Woods' link with the Clintons and the Clintons' connection to Tucker has been widely reported in the press," the panel wrote. "There is no shortage of other judges." The three members of the appellate panel were Pasco M. Bowman II and Clarence A. Beam, appointed by President Reagan, and James B. Loken, appointed by President Bush. Judge Woods was appointed to the district bench by President Carter.

Mr. Tucker's attorneys - who argued in an appeal last year that Mr. Starr's jurisdiction was limited to matters involving the Clintons, Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association, Capital Management Services Inc. and Whitewater Development Corp. - said they would poll 11 judges of the 8th Circuit to rehear the case. Failing that, they said they would petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

Mr. Starr, in an unusual public statement, said he was "pleased and gratified" by the decision. "The indictment returned by 23 Arkansans in June of last year has been restored in its entirety," he said. "After a lengthy and unfortunate delay in our investigation, the processes of justice can go forward."

Mr. Tucker, on trial in Little Rock in a separate fraud and conspiracy indictment brought by Mr. Starr, was named in June in an indictment accusing him and a business partner of lying to illegally obtain $300,000 in Small Business Administration loans.

He is charged with making false statements to an Arkansas lending company owned by former Little Rock Municipal Judge David L. Hale - now a cooperating Whitewater witness - in an effort to illegally obtain the loans to buy a cable-television company. The indictment also accused Mr. Tucker and William J. Marks, a business partner in a Florida cable-TV venture, of conspiring to make false statements to obtain the 1987 loan from a federally licensed small-business investment firm, knowingly making false statements and conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Tucker's attorney, John H. Haley, also was named in the 38-page indictment on charges of conspiring to defraud the IRS.

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Judge Woods Taken off Case: Tucker Charges Reinstated
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