The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has named special counsel to handle complaints against Circut Judge Wendell Griffen and the Arkansas Supreme Court related to handling of a case involving drugs used in Arkansas executions.

David Sachar, the executive director of the agency, and his assistant counsel had stepped aside because they conceivably could be witnesses in the proceedings.


Griffen was referred to the Commission for review by the Supreme Court for participating in a death penalty demonstration outside the Governor’s Mansion the same day he decided a case over a drug distributor’s effort to reclaim drugs sold to the state Correction Department under false pretenses by the state. The distributor didn’t want the drugs used in executions and the state obtained them dishonestly, it said;

Griffen in turn complained that the Supreme Court had acted improperly in the handling of his case by overturning his order without a hearing and having ex parte communications on the matter.


The Commission announced in a news release today that Rachel Michel, senior staff attorney for the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, and J. Brent Standridge, a Benton lawyer, would handle the complaints against Griffen and the Supreme Court justices.

The release, from Marie Bernarde Miller acting as Commission counsel, noted that Michel in addition to working in judicial discipline and education is a captain in the Mississippi National Guard. It noted that Standridge had been a deputy prosecutor, assistant attorney general and had a law practice that included serving as a deputy public defender.


Miller, who works on a contract basis as advisor to the Commission members, said the appointments of the two ended the Commission’s direction of the investigation. She said it will be left to Michel and Standridge which case to investigate — the complaint against Griffen or the complaint against the Court. Each will handle one.