The Arkansas Supreme Court has approved an expedited schedule for appeals in four lawsuits over ballot eligibility in several judicial contests in the May 20 primary/judicial elections. But it’s not clear if the rulings can be completed before early voting begins next week.

The appeals concern in most cases whether judicial candidates were eligible who’d had brief periods when they were tardy in paying lawyer license fees and thus technically in suspension.  These cases cover Judges H.G. Foster and Tim Fox and candidate Angela Byrd. Judges must have certain periods of continuous service immediately before elections to qualify to run. Lower courts have denied all these challenges, but one court has ruled off the ballot a lawyer, Valerie Bailey, who’s license was suspended for a number of years when she decided to be inactive. She contends she was always licensed during that period.

A court spokesman said briefs are due in these cases by noon Friday. Early voting begins Monday, May 5. The court is also considering a motion to stay and expedite the appeal on