Masters deny funding for expert testimony

(February 26, 2004) - (Little Rock-AP) -- Two special masters denied a request by Lake View School District lawyers for the state to pay costs for a consultant's testimony. The lawyers had asked that the state pay 22- thousand dollars to Lawrence Picus, a California consultant, to testify before the special masters, who are reviewing progress the state has made to improve the public schools. The lawyers believe Picus' testimony will bear out their contention that the state's efforts fall short of the Arkansas Supreme Court's order to provide equal educational opportunities for Arkansas children. Attorney General Mike Beebe argued that the state has already paid enough to the plaintiffs' lawyers in the Lake View case, which resulted in the Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court approved three-point-four million dollars in attorney fees for the plaintiffs.