Judge, county to pay $52K in Nativity suit

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the county and a county judge to pay more than $52,000 to a Mountain Home resident and a nonprofit promoting secularism, three months after he ruled that a Nativity scene on the Baxter County courthouse lawn violated the U.S. Constitution.

The Baxter Bulletin reports that U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks ordered Baxter County and County Judge Mickey Pendergrass to pay Dessa Blackthorn and the American Humanist Association for attorney fees and costs in the suit.

The lawsuit began in December after Pendergrass was denied a request to place a “Happy Winter Solstice” banner alongside a Nativity scene display on the courthouse lawn.

Brooks ruled in favor of Blackthorn and the association in November, saying the Nativity scene was displayed in violation of the First Amendment.