Judicial appearances, Rhonda Wood and Courtney Goodson edition | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Judicial appearances, Rhonda Wood and Courtney Goodson edition

Posted By on Sun, Jan 20, 2019 at 8:50 AM


Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood's party pix from Gov. Asa Hutchinson's inaugural ball drew a critic on Twitter who drew me into the conversation. Happy to join in.

The Tweet above drew this response, on which my Twitter account was tagged, and then drew Wood counter-response.


Having been included in the Twitter thread, I chimed in:

As with Judge Griffen, an authorized action isn’t always wise when you will sit on cases related to the person you’ve publicly praised
In case you miss the point: Justice Wood joined her Supreme Court colleagues in rushing to punish Judge Wendell Griffen for taking part in a death penalty protest on a day on which he'd ruled earlier in a case about a drug used in executions. As I've said many times before, I believe Judge Griffen has every religious and free speech right to speak publicly about issues of importance to him, such as the death penalty. But I also think judges are often better served by shutting up. When they speak on controversial and political issues, they give rise to a public perception that those beliefs might influence their judicial decisions, no matter how much the facts support those decisions.

The Supreme Court often hears cases of importance to the governor of Arkansas. Might we now have cause to think Rhonda Wood would put a thumb on the scale of justice for someone she worked for and announces publicly she's "proud to have as governor"? It's not unreasonable, if her own ruling in the Griffen case is a guide. The same could be said for Wood's decision to sit on cases involving nursing home magnate Michael Morton, who, thanks to help from her friend, the accused felon Gilbert Baker, was the primary engine in her fund-raising campaign to be elected to the Supreme Court.

While we're on the subject of inaugural party pix and justices hobnobbing with politicians.

screen_shot_2019-01-20_at_9.04.46_am.png
And also:
click to enlarge screen_shot_2019-01-20_at_8.43.36_am.png

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