Wendell Griffen v. Arkansas Supreme Court: The probe heats up | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Wendell Griffen v. Arkansas Supreme Court: The probe heats up

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 2:08 PM

Michael Laux, attorney for Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen in his judiciary disciplinary committee complaint against the Arkansas Supreme Court, is unhappy with the work of the person appointed to investigate the case.

Laux is perturbed that he has just learned that the Arkansas Supreme Court argued in a letter eight months ago that the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission had no standing to investigate the action of the Supreme Court in removing Griffen from all cases involving the death penalty.

The Court acted without a formal proceeding after Griffen participated in a demonstration against the death penalty after earlier that day issuing a ruling in a property rights case. The case had death penalty implications. It concerned a drug distributor's attempt to stop its drug from being used in Arkansas executions. The company contended the state had obtained the drugs through dishonest means. Griffen ruled for the drug company, effectively stopping executions until the Supreme Court stepped in.

Griffen  complained about the court's action and Griffen is also under investigation for potential violation of ethical codes on a complaint brought by the Court. Griffen also has a federal court suit against the Supreme Court for abridging his constitutional rights.

For now, the judicial proceeding continues. Brent Standridge, a Benton lawyer, was one of two special counsels appointed to review the disciplinary cases in place of the executive director of the commission, David Sachar, who might be a witness in the cases.

Laux complains that Standridge has appeared uninformed about the case and the judicial process and that he attempted to interview Griffen early in January without going through him first. But his major complaint today is learning about Chief Justice Dan Kemp's argument that the Supreme Court is not subject to disciplinary review in this case. Kemp said the rule exempts disciplinary review for rulings on the law in court. Laux said Griffen's suspension from cases was an administrative act, not a judicial act.

Laux also said the rule can apply when justices act with corrupt motive or bad faith and Laux said that was the case here.

Griffen contends he got no notice of or opportunity to respond to the action. Kemp said Griffen got a notice of the order in the drug case, but Laux said that was "irrelevant" to the administrative action. Furthermore, it was filed outside office hours, contrary to rules.

Laux wrote that Griffen deserves a "robust and timely" investigaton.

Here's the letter from Laux to Standridge.

Here's Kemp's letter saying the judicial commission has no jurisdiction.

A lawyer from Mississippi is handling the complaint by the court against Griffen.


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