The attorney for Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has asked the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to replace an Arkansas lawyer with out-of-state counsel to investigate Griffen’s ethics complaint against the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The attorney, Michael Laux, notes that an out-of-state lawyer was appointed to review the Supreme Court’s complaint against Griffen for his participation in a death penalty protest the same day he’d decided a property rights case related to state use of a drug used in executions. The counsel found probable cause that Griffen had violated ethical conduct standards.

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Brent Standridge of Benton was appointed to review Griffen’s complaint that the Supreme Court had acted improperly and perhaps had ex parte discussions with a variety of people before its speedy order reversing Griffen in the drug case and removing him from all cases concerning the death penalty.

Laux said Standridge had failed to perform his duties properly. He said Standridge had made no effort to interview or acquire communications from the Supreme Court justices

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During my only telephone conversation with Mr. Standridge, back on May 22, 2018, he told me that he had collected zero information during his involvement in the matter, and that he never contacted any of the justices or any witnesses at any time. Despite this professed dearth of information on which to base a decision on Judge Griffen’s complaint, Mr. Standridge stated to me that the matter was nonetheless “concluded as far as the Panel is concerned.” He referred to the timing of the JDDC’s decision as “imminent” and assured me that it was coming “real soon.” It is now four months later and there has been zero word from Mr. Standridgeor anyone. This stands in contrast to the brisk pace at which the justices’ complaint against Judge Griffen moves.

Laux said Standridge had not performed with “requisite seriousness” and should be removed and replaced. In a cover letter distributed with a copy of the letter to the Commission, Laux said:

We think it is vital that the individual investigating the Justices not be subject to the Justices authority regarding their law license and other potential conflicts.