Thursday, April 10, 2014

Every Arkansas Supreme Court Justice has paid annual bar dues late

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM

click to enlarge scgroup-new.jpg

All seven Arkansas Supreme Court justices have paid their annual bar fees late in the past. Two justices, Justice Karen Baker and Justice Courtney Hudson Henry*, failed to pay their annual dues within eight years of joining the Court. That time window may be significant because Amendment 80 of the Arkansas Constitution requires Supreme Court justices to be licensed attorneys at least eight years immediately preceding the date they assumed office.

Several lawsuits alleging that similar administrative suspensions due to late payments should disqualify circuit judge candidates from assuming office have been winding their way through the courts. The constitution requires circuit judge candidates to be licensed attorneys in Arkansas for six years prior to holding office. 

In the case that started the controversy, specially appointed Judge John Cole found that Valerie Bailey, a candidate for the 6th Judicial District seat, was ineligible for office because her license had been suspended for nearly nine years. That Bailey's suspension was of an administrative nature, rather than for misconduct, didn't matter, Cole said. "A suspension is a suspension is a suspension," he said from the bench.

Since then lawsuits challenging the eligibility of candidates Angela Byrd, Judge Tim Fox (the judge whom Bailey planned to challenge) and Judge H.G. Foster have been filed. On Wednesday, Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled that Byrd shouldn't be disqualified and that it's unconstitutional for the Arkansas Supreme Court Clerk to suspend an attorney's license without holding a hearing. In Griffen's courtroom, Supreme Court Clerk Les Steenin testified that he's always treated suspensions for late payment differently from other suspensions, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported. Some 700 to 900 attorneys pay late annually, Steenin told Griffen. 

Meanwhile, Judge H.G. Foster has asked the Supreme Court to claim jurisdiction in the suit filed against him and, after being named as a respondent in Foster's petition to the Court, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel also asked the court to intervene and argued that late payment of dues shouldn't disqualify a candidate. 

So. The Supreme Court is sure to take the question up soon. Will Baker and Henry be forced to recuse?

This whole thing seems more than a little silly. Surely, in the end, it will amount to little more than exposing that attorneys are as prone to forget to do bureaucratic things as the rest of us. 

Below are the records of late payments by Supreme Court members. March 1 is the annual deadline for dues. Voters passed Amendment 80 in 2000. The Court, which provided the Times the information that follows in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, only has records of late payments dating back to January 1970.

*A previous version of this post included Chief Justice Jim Hannah among the justices who might be ineligible to assume office depending on how Amendment 80 of the Arkansas Constitution is interpreted. Voters approved Amendment 80 in 2000, but it didn't go into effect until July 2001. Hannah took office in January 2001, so Amendment 80's requirements wouldn't affect his eligibility regardless of how it's interpreted.


Chief Justice Jim Hannah
Paid dues on: 3/27/74
3/12/97

Justice Donald Corbin
Paid dues on: 3/21/74
6/10/77

Justice Cliff Hoofman
Paid dues on: 3/29/74
7/15/77

Justice Josephine L. Hart
Paid dues on: 7/30/75
3/29/95

Justice Paul Danielson
Paid dues on: 8/26/81
3/29/83
6/18/84
5/4/88

Justice Karen Baker
Paid dues on: 8/10/94
5/13/97
3/29/00
3/5/03

Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson
Paid dues on: 6/7/04


Tags: , ,

Favorite

Speaking of Arkansas Courts, Law

Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • Hotel planned for Hall-Davidson buildings

    A new real estate firm is in talks with national hotel groups to bring a boutique hotel to the Hall-Davidson buildings at 209-215 W. Capitol.
    • Feb 17, 2017
  • The Max Is Back Edition

    State legislative doings, the latest on the LR school district and more — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • Feb 10, 2017
  • Criminal reform bill faces uphill battle in Senate committee

    An omnibus bill that sponsors say would curb the rapid growth of Arkansas prisons without sacrificing public safety received a cool reception from the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Senate Bill 136 has been in committee for weeks as Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock), chairman of the committee and lead sponsor of the bill, has been working with state prosecutors and other groups to address concerns.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In defense of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights

    An op-ed in today's New York Time by Katha Pollitt says what I've been struggling to say about the reaction to the attack on women's reproductive rights launched by means of the undercover videos made by anti-abortion activists.
    • Aug 5, 2015
  • Matt Campbell files ethics complaint against Dennis Milligan

    Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell, whose knack for deep research brought down Mark Darr, Mike Maggio and Dexter Suggs, now has his sights trained on another worthy target. Today, he filed a 113-page ethics complaint against state Treasurer Dennis Milligan that includes 14 separate allegations.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Rutledge refuses open records of fired trooper who now leads ABC enforcement

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday refused to allow release of records that explain the 2000 firing of Boyce Hamlet as a state trooper.
    • Sep 1, 2015

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation