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Mid-South public defender arrested, charged with rape

Updated: Jan. 15, 2021 at 4:36 PM CST
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CRITTENDEN COUNTY, Ark. (WMC) - A Mid-South public defender is facing a rape charge.

Bryan Donaldson, 50, was arrested and booked into the Crittenden County Jail Thursday afternoon. He was released on a $35,000 bond 34 minutes later.

Investigators tell WMC they are not giving out information on the case and have declined to release the affidavit.

WMC’s Chris Luther spoke with several people in Crittenden County who say Donaldson has been practicing law for years in the area and everyone in town knows him.

Donaldson’s offices have been locked all afternoon and no one answered the door.

Well-known Memphis defense attorney Blake Ballin says a special prosecutor and an outside judge will likely be called in for Donaldson’s case to avoid any conflicts of interest.

“He wouldn’t necessarily have a problem continuing to defend his clients because the DA’s office that he’s dealing with on his cases would not be prosecuting him, and the judges he would appear in front of would not be hearing his case, so there are ways to avoid this being too bumpy of a ride for anybody unless and until he’s convicted,” said Ballin.

Tom Montgomery, director of the Crittenden County Public Defender’s Office, says Donaldson is a part-time lawyer in the office.

Montgomery says Arkansas state policy states a public defender must be put on paid leave when they’re charged with a crime, but he doesn’t know if that’s happened with Donaldson yet.

Officials in the Crittenden County Clerk’s Office say Donaldson is next due in court Feb. 26.

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