Josh Duggar’s 2006 police report has caused a furor in a number of ways, including a debate over whether the record release was legal, Josh’s resignation from the Family Research Council, the temporary removal of the Duggar family’s reality show from TLC, and an interview in which the Duggar family made statements that contrast the police report.
However, a few new controversies have arisen over the report, centering on the judge who ordered the report destroyed, exactly what she ordered, and exactly what she was allowed to order. As orders surface that weren’t previously known, new legal analysis suggests the judge may not have had the authority to issue certain orders regarding Josh Duggar’s case.
You are probably aware that there was a debate about whether the Duggar police report was released legally. Jessa and Jill Duggar, their parents, and Megyn Kelly, all claimed in their Kelly File interview that the release was illegal, because Josh Duggar was a juvenile.
However, the Springdale mayor released a response to the interview, denying that there was any wrongdoing in the release, and explaining why: because the Duggars covered up the crimes, Josh was an adult at the time of the investigation — and thus his record was not that of a juvenile, but an adult.
By this time, though, the record had already been destroyed (though it was already widely available online) at the order of Judge Stacey Zimmerman. This was done, according to 5NewsOnline, at the request of one of Josh’s victims, who, twelve years later, is still a minor.
However, a new FOIA request from In Touch netted new information — an investigation by Child Protective Services, in which the Duggar family refused to cooperate. While DHHS investigations are not public record, 911 calls are — so the Duggar family’s failure to cooperate was actually what brought the case to public light, as the caseworker was required to call for police backup.
Now the Springdale Police Department is under fire again for responding to a request under FOIA law — it seems that Judge Zimmerman issued additional orders, forbidding the department to release anything pertaining to the Duggar family. Unfortunately, that additional order somehow didn’t make it to the police, who say they only became aware of the additional orders after releasing the Duggar 911 call.
According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the department is now seeking legal clarification: is it within the judge’s authority to issue a long-term ruling that nothing pertaining to the Duggar family, including new cases, can ever be released?
According to Attorney Brandon Cate, these additional orders likely violate the public’s right to free access of information — and that isn’t all. He believes the initial order to destroy Josh Duggar’s record may also be problematic.
“I have reviewed Judge Zimmerman’s May 21 order and her two supplemental order. None of the Arkansas statutes cited in her orders provide the court with the authority to order the destruction of the police report.”
The Springdale Police Department has requested further information from Judge Zimmerman on what her order entails, as they seek to determine whether the destruction of Josh Duggar’s police report was within her authority, and whether they are allowed to release the 911 call.
[Image via: Family Research Council (Screengrab)]