Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced this morning that he’d appointed UA law professor Howard Brill to serve out retiring Chief Justice Jim Hannah’s term on the Arkansas Supreme Court. It runs through 2016.

I noted the expectation of the appointment earlier today.


Brill said he was “overwhelmed and humbled.” He took pains to praise Hannah for the way he’d conducted and operated the court — with professionalism and grace.

He said the chief justice is responsible for leading the court and participating in decisions based on Constitution, statute and case precedent. He said he sees the chief justice has administrative responsibilities, too. (This has been a bone of some contention in the current court.) He said the justice should be the face of the court to the state, in education, reaching out to the public and in other ways.


Hutchinson said he’d received perhaps a dozen recommendations and interviewed several for the position.

Brill was asked about past differences on the court. “I’m not looking back at all,” he said. “I’m looking forward.”


His philosophy: “Follow the law and uphold the law and apply the law.”

Hutchinson said he hadn’t talked with Brill about specific cases. As a lawyer, he knew better, he said. But he said he was familiar with Brill’s philosophy. As lawyers have commented on my earlier thread, Brill is well-known for his deep religious beliefs, but he’s also widely viewed as scrupulously fair.

Brill said he didn’t anticipate running for any open court seat in the future, but to return to the classroom.

Other members of the Supreme Court joined the news conference for a photo opportunity, but did not speak.