Candidate for prosecutor accused of bouncing check, failing clients
SALINE COUNTY, Ark. (KATV) —
UPDATE (05/18/18): Heather Crouch waived her attorney/client privilege, allowing Mr. Parker to offer a rebuttal to her claims. It reads in part "I was not Ms. Crouch's attorney when she originally lost her kids by court order. I became involved in this case long after her children were adopted by Ms. Crouch's parents. In February of 2013 Ms. Crouch lost the kids to her parents by Court order because of her "extensive drug and alcohol" abuse. In July of 2017 she came to be because she found out her children had already been adopted by her parents in order to cut off her contact permanently. I told her it was extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to undo an adoption because there is a strong public policy toward finality and the law would not be on our side. Ms. Crouch understood these facts and knew my role would be to research her case to determine if there was any way to undo an adoption. I accepted $2,500.00 as a fee in order to provide research and advise ONLY for 90 days. Between July and October I spent 13.9 billable hours at the rate of $300 an hour in meetings, research and drafting. In October I told her that my opinion was that there was virtually nothing that could be done. It is unfortunate that Ms. Crouch's drug abuse cause her to lose her children, but she refuses to take responsibility for her actions which lead to a court terminating her parental rights and now she is looking for others to blame."
Also, Parker asked his opposing counsel Ray Baxter to address the complaints made by client Connie Shearer. According to Baxter, Parker was not texting on his phone constantly during the recently completed custody hearing and he says Parker called at least three witnesses on Shearer's behalf...or four if you count Shearer herself. Baxter won the case for his client, but in his opinion, Parker did a good job for Shearer as opposing counsel.
Parker has thus far refused to offer a response to the allegation that he wrote a Little Rock business a hot check.
UPDATE (05/17/18): Mr. Parker has responded to our request that he produce any court document filed on behalf of clients Crouch and McCrery and produce a list of witnesses called on behalf of client Shearer as well as a list of questions asked of Shearer's husband during cross examination:
"I am unable to respond to your question because under attorney-client privilege I cannot reveal information relating to representation of a client, unless the client gives informed consent. If a former client does not give informed consent, then you have a one-sided news story because legally I am not allowed to respond. The attorney-client privilege continues even after the client-attorney relationship has ended. If the former client gives me permission, then I will be able to discuss his or her case and set the record straight."
Mr. Parker's response did not address his dealings with Arkansas Copier and the allegations that a hot check was written on Parker's account to that business.
ORIGINAL (05/16/18): 36 year-old Parker Jones is a candidate for prosecuting attorney in Arkansas' 22nd circuit, which includes Saline and parts of Garland counties. Parker's opponent is another Benton attorney Chris Walton. The current prosecutor, Ken Casady, is not seeking re-election.
When we contacted Parker's office on Wednesday to ask some questions about recent allegations being made against Parker, we were placed on hold.
"Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it seems as though they're here to stay."
It wasn't the Beatles. It was another artist covering the classic tune. And it may not accurately summarize Jones' mood this week. But then again, it might.
On Monday, The Saline Courier, the newspaper that serves most of the district that Jones wants to represent as prosecutor, published a report about a hot check allegedly written by Jones' law firm to a Little Rock business. Arkansas Copier says it received a check from Parker's firm in the amount of $909.05 in January that failed to clear the bank. Subsequent attempts to collect the debt have failed, causing the business owner to file a complaint against Parker with the current prosecuting attorney's hot check division.
Channel 7 contacted that division on Wednesday and confirmed that a letter has been sent to Parker giving him 30 days to satisfy the debt or risk having a criminal charge filed. It is common practice involving hot check allegations.
Randall Thompson, the owner of Arkansas Copier, claims that Jones also owes him for the lease of a copier. He says Jones owes him about $1,300.
While the legal system will help Thompson collect that debt if it is indeed owed to him, several clients of Jones claim the damage done to them is not as easily reversed.
Heather Crouch, Heather McCrery and Connie Shearer all say they hired Parker Jones to represent them in legal matters.
Crouch says she paid Jones $2,500 in July of 2017. Also in July of 2017, McCrery says she paid Jones $5,000. And Shearer claims to have paid Jones $10,000 since the spring of 2016.
Shearer's custody case played out in court last week. She lost. Shearer claims Parker spent most of his time in court texting on his cell phone. She says he called only two witnesses on her behalf (she herself was one of them) and that his cross-examination of her ex-husband was lacking. Shearer says Parker did not ask any of her suggested questions.
But Shearer did get something for her money. Both Crouch and McCrery claim that Parker failed to even file a single court document on their behalf. Crouch was contesting the adoption of her children and says Parker's failure to file paperwork with the court within a 365-day window cost her custody of her kids. McCrery is looking for a new attorney to help her in a custody fight involving her two children. She says Parker dropped her as a client because he had too much work.
All three women say Parker was hard to reach, rarely at the office and regularly failing to return phone calls. They say his preferred method of communication is email but that his answers to questions are vague and his requests for more money are frequent.
We have emailed Parker a list of questions related to the claims of his former clients as well as the hot check allegation.