Here come the lawsuits on judicial candidates: suits filed against Judge H.G. Foster and Angela Byrd | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Here come the lawsuits on judicial candidates: suits filed against Judge H.G. Foster and Angela Byrd

Posted By on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 9:25 AM

click to enlarge FOSTER: His license was suspended four times, totaling 216 days. Can he still run as a judicial candidate?
  • FOSTER: His license was suspended four times, totaling 216 days. Can he still run as a judicial candidate?
The D-G reports this morning that separate lawsuits have been filed against Judge H.G. Foster and Angela Byrd, asking that they be disqualified from running in next month's judicial races because of issues with past suspensions of law licenses for non-payment of bar dues. 

These sorts of suits were inevitable in the wake of Circuit Judge John Cole's recent ruling disqualifying lawyer Valerie Thompson Bailey from challenging Circuit Judge Tim Fox. The constitution requires that judicial candidates be "licensed attorneys of this state for at least six years immediately preceding the date of assuming office" (or eight years for the Supreme Court). Bailey's license was suspended between 2002 and 2011 for failing to complete a required annual legal education course. Cole declined to make a distinction between an administrative suspension and a disciplinary suspension. "A suspension is a suspension is a suspension," he said from the bench.

Well, it turns out that a number of candidates, including sitting judges, had suspensions in the past that — applying Cole's logic — would arguably amount to an interruption in the required time as licensed attorneys. This is an issue that Blue Hog Report has been stirring the hornet's nest on ever since

Foster, seeking election to a 20th Circuit Court seat* has had his license suspended four times since 2009 for not paying bar fees on time. In total, the suspensions amount to 216 days. Doralee Idleman Chandler, running against Foster, has filed suit, arguing that Foster was unlicensed during those 216 days and therefore is disqualified from running. 

Byrd, a Conway attorney seeking a different Circuit Court seat, had her license suspended for a single day in March for failure to pay bar fees on time. The suit against Byrd was filed on behalf of Lonnie Williams, a resident of the 20th Judicial District (including Faulkner, Van Buren and Searcy counties), where Byrd is running. 

Meanwhile Tim Fox himself — the judge who Bailey sought to challenge — had his license suspended for non-payment of dues in 2013. I'd say a lawsuit against his candidacy for re-election is inevitable. Probably against Rhonda Wood, now running for Supreme Court, too. Plus more. 

I've been corresponding with a local attorney who argues that the courts who hear the suits against Foster and Byrd — or other similar cases in the future — won't necessarily be bound by Cole's ruling (though Fox would be a stickier matter since Cole's ruling was against Fox's opponent). Of course, whether or not they pay attention to Cole, other judges may well reach a similar conclusion in these copy-cat cases (my attorney correspondent thinks that's likely). We may begin to see disqualifications left and right. In any case, the Arkansas Supreme Court will likely eventually need to issue a clear ruling on precisely what the constitutional eligibility requirements for judicial candidates mean. With the election nearing — perhaps sooner than later. 

*A previous version of this post incorrectly said that Foster was running for the judgeship to which he was appointed. Appointed judges can't run for the position to which they were appointed. It also mistakenly said he was appointed to fill Rhonda Wood's vacated position. Instead, Foster is running for the division in the 20th Circuit that Wood vacated that's currently held by Judge Amy Brazil.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Latest Obamacare repeal bill would hit Arkansas treasury hard

    The latest effort to undo Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy legislation, would shift federal support for health coverage to a block grant system to the states. Bad news for Arkansas.
    • Sep 18, 2017
  • Payday lenders on the march at legislature

    Payday lenders are working hard to get legislative cover for the reintroduction of their usurious loan business to Arkansas. Some are fighting back.
    • Mar 10, 2017


Most Viewed

  • Six Supreme Court justices found to have violated ethics code

    The Arkansas Judicial and Disability Commission has announced the filing of formal charges of ethics violations against six members of the Arkansas Supreme Court for their handling of a case involving Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.
  • Clarke Tucker punches an absent French Hill in TV 'debate'

    Democratic state Rep. Clarke Tucker took full advantage of Republican incumbent Rep. French Hill's refusal to participate in a TV debate on Channel 7 last night with a series of jabs at Hill on policy issues and for avoiding debate.
  • Feds bust Central Arkansas drug ring

    The U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock announced today the indictment of 31 people on 53 drug, gun and money laundering charges in a Central Arkansas drug distribution operation supplied from California.
  • Blasey Ford prepared to testify, with conditions

    Christine Blasey Ford, who's accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, has said she's willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but not on Monday as Republicans have demanded.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation