Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah distributed a farwell letter today marking the end of his judicial service. He’ll be succeeded tomorrow for the remainder of his term, through 2016, by gubernatorial appointee Howard Brill.
Hannah didn’t detail the health issues that prompted his early retirement and he went out in his customary fashion, with kind words for colleagues and those who’d allowed him to serve.
He described as one of the “joys” of the job carrying out the chief justice’s responsibility of the administration of the justice system.
Administration has been a source of some contention within the court in recent months, as a clique of judges banded together to form a court majority to take such administrative duties as hiring of court personnel and pay levels from the chief justice, among other divisions, some related to the bungled same-sex marriage case. Even scheduling court photographs became difficult. In his brief remarks, appointee Brill also noted that administration was one of the chief justice’s duties. The Supreme Court gang of four — Karen Baker, Jo Hart, Courtney Goodson and Rhonda Wood (sometimes five with Robin Wynne) — might have something to say about that. The seventh justice, Paul Danielson, sided with Hannah in a dispute that broke into the open on whether Rhonda Wood should sit on the marriage case, with the others siding with Wood in an action Hannah and Danielson described as an effort to delay justice.
Hannah’s seat will be on the ballot in March. No one has announced, but Goodson is expected to seek the office.