Attorneys for Judge Wendell Griffen this week filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a review of an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in July that dismissed Griffen’s lawsuit against the Arkansas Supreme Court for removing him from all cases related to the death penalty.
Griffen’s lawsuit argues that his First Amendment rights were violated by the state Supreme Court’s decision to remove him from death penalty cases on account of his participation in a demonstration against the death penalty. The Eighth Circuit said the Arkansas court could make rules on his duties as a public official and that his First Amendment rights as a citizen had not been abridged.
Griffen’s attorney, Michael Laux, said in a statement:
Our main argument to the U.S. Supreme Court is that the Eighth Circuit usurped the authority of the District Court by improperly granting the Justices’ request for a writ of mandamus, an extraordinary remedy reserved only for extraordinary circumstances and not non-final decisions. In addition to terminating the case, this ruling obviously prevented Judge Griffen from engaging in the discovery process, which we believe would have added significant support to his case and which the Justices fiercely opposed. Judge Moody had just allowed discovery to proceed when the Justices filed for mandamus. Judge Moody’s decision would have compelled an accounting of the Justices’ actions at the heart of Judge Griffen’s lawsuit.
In his lawsuit, Judge Griffen alleges violations of his First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of religious expression when he was unfairly disciplined by the Justices for participating in an anti-death penalty prayer vigil on Good Friday 2017. Judge Griffen also claims violations of the Procedural Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as civil conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985. These are bedrock rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.