LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A lawyer running for Congress in southern Arkansas was reprimanded and fined $1,000 because he missed a deadline to file documents in a criminal appeal for one of his clients earlier this year, according to a professional conduct committee's decision released Thursday.
The Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct said Hot Springs attorney Q. Byrum Hurst was a day late in filing appeal documents in January.
Hurst, a congressional hopeful in Arkansas' 4th District, said the reprimand and fine were too harsh, but said he doubts he'll appeal them. He said his office was having computer problems and that his assistant missed a deadline.
"I'm the captain of the ship, so I understand they look to me," Hurst told The Associated Press on Thursday. "I, like most people, have secretaries and a staff that we depend on. They normally do a great job, but every once in a while something will slip."
He said the assistant felt bad about it because he was the one getting the reprimand.
"I'm not trying to be critical of my staff or anything," he said. "They missed it by one day even though I was questioning them about it."
News of the reprimand comes the same week Hurst came in second place in the Democratic primary for the congressional seat. He'll face state Sen. Gene Jeffress in the June 12 runoff for the Democratic nomination. The winner will face Republican Tom Cotton in November.
"I wouldn't think that anybody should consider not voting for me because I was 24 hours late in lodging a transcript," Hurst said. "I just think that would be sort of ridiculous."
Cotton's campaign declined to comment.
Jeffress, who finished first in Tuesday's primary but fell short of the majority needed to win the nomination outright, said he didn't want to comment on Hurst's reprimand.
"I think it's an issue, but I'm going to leave it with his clients right now," Jeffress said.
Hurst, meanwhile, said the reprimand doesn't affect his clients, including the one in the case that drew the reprimand.
"Nothing adverse to the client, nothing adverse to the case occurred," Hurst said. "It was simply a 24-hour mistake."
The reprimand and fine stem from a case involving one of Hurst's clients who pleaded no contest to a charge of sexual indecency with a child, according to the Committee on Professional Conduct's decision. Hurst appealed the case, though he declined Thursday to comment on the case other than to say it was pending.
The committee said it took into account four previous disciplinary actions against Hurst for missed deadlines. Hurst said Thursday that if there were missed deadlines, he couldn't recall them. He acknowledged other disputes over the years, but he said he's tried to get them resolved.
"Most people regard my law practice as very successful and very good," he said. "I'm not at all ashamed of anything in regard to my practice."
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