Attorney says nothing illegal in Redus’ wife signing lawsuit

Pine Bluff attorney Gene McKissic said Monday his client, Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. did nothing wrong when he allowed his wife to sign his name on a lawsuit seeking an injunction to halt the Nov. 6 mayoral election.

“The law does not require that a person be present to sign a document as long as the notary knows the person who is to sign the document,” McKissic said.

Last week, Redus admitted that his wife Trudy Redus had signed the document while he was attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

“He had seen a preliminary draft of the document but the final draft was not ready when he left,” McKissic said. “We e-mailed him the final draft and when he approved it, he told his wife to come by and sign it for him.”

McKissic said his office stayed in contact with Redus by e-mail, text and telephone, and in fact was on the phone with Redus when his wife signed the document.

Attorney Eugene Hunt, who is also a notary, said he has on occasion notarized legal paperwork even when the party who signed the paperwork was not present.

“I would have to know that person’s voice and would call them on the phone and asked them if they signed such and such a document and describe the document to them,” Hunt said. “If they said yes, I would notarize the document.”

Hunt said he had done that “two or three times over the years.”

He also said claims that Trudy Redus’ signing of the document was a forgery and a criminal act are incorrect, and that there have been many instances where spouses have signed documents for their husbands.

“Forgery is when someone tries to obtain results they are not entitled to,” Hunt said. “They’re trying to achieve something contrary to the best interest of a person rather than achieve something in that person’s best interest.”

According to Arkansas code section 21-14-111, it is unlawful for any notary public to witness any signature on any instrument unless the notary public either: witnesses the signing of the instrument and personally knows the signer or is presented proof of the identity of the signer; or recognizes the signature of the signer by virtue of familiarity with the signature.

The law states that any notary public violating this section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

The law defines the term “personally knows” to mean having an acquaintance, derived from association with the individual, which establishes the individual’s identity with at least a reasonable certainty.

Also Monday, McKissic filed legal documents asking Judge Jay Moody to dismiss Gov. Mike Beebe and Secretary of State Mark Martin from the lawsuit.

“Governor Beebe was sued because he is the chief executive officer of the state but after a telephone conference with the judge last Friday, we felt that his interests would be protected by the Secretary of State,” McKissic said. “At this point, the Secretary of State is not a necessary party and would become necessary only if the judge denies our motion for declaratory judgment and it came down to certification of the results.

“We’re letting them out and reducing the number of parties in the case,” he said.

County attorney Terry Wynne, who is representing the three members of the Jefferson County Election Commission and County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson has asked the judge to consider adding the city of Pine Bluff and the remaining mayoral candidates to the lawsuit, since Moody has already approved a request by Debe Hollingsworth to intervene.

“Rule 19 (Rules of Civil Procedure) says that you bring everybody into a lawsuit that has an interest in that lawsuit,” Wynne said. “Certainly the city would have an interest, and so would the other candidates who have filed for the office and been certified.”

Wynne said Moody agreed during the telephone conference last week to take those motions under consideration and will announce his decision later.

Staff writer Michael S. Lee contributed to this article.