Local attorney weighs in on what's next for Shoffner

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - One of Martha Shoffner's former employees and campaign workers spoke out Wednesday on her guilty verdict that was handed down the day prior.

"We would have been fine with her serving no time...saying that she was guilty on the front end, taking responsibility instead of trying to pass the buck onto a group of us," Cord Rapert told Region 8 News.

"For almost six and a half years, so many people, dedicated state employees have been under this woman's rule and under this woman's thumb, knowing that something was going on."

Rapert said her guilty verdict brought back many emotions.

"Sad, number one, that an elected official would do something like this but maybe relieved would be a good word? We were relieved that she was found guilty because she was caught, red handed, on tape," Rapert explained.

While Shoffner was found guilty, the judge has yet to rule on a defense motion for directed verdict. The defense claims the prosecution failed to prove that interstate commerce was affected. Jonesboro attorney Bill Bristow explained motions for directed verdict are routinely thrown out, but not this time.

"He's taking this legal argument very seriously and making sure that both sides can put that in writing and then he can take his time to deliberate on that," Bristow said.

Bristow said there will be two possible outcomes. If the judge denies the motion, the case will move forward as it was. However, if the judge finds interstate commerce was not affected, showing the case had no federal jurisdiction, it could basically be thrown out on a technicality.

"Then it would be kicked back to the state authorities to make a decision as to what to do," Bristow said. "That would be unusual and somewhat extraordinary but that is a possibility."

Bristow explained why he thought Judge J. Leon Holmes is giving the defense that opportunity, as he has personally appeared before him.

"I know him to be a very deliberate, careful, intellectual judge who looks at legal arguments very carefully. This is consistent with the way he approaches things."

Bristow explained sentencing will be another process in itself. If the judge throws out the directed verdict motion, Bristow said we can expect pre-sentencing to take up to three months and it will be hotly contested.

We'll continue to track the developments of this story.

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