The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s motion that the court’s justices disqualify themselves in hearing Griffen’s petition to again be allowed to hear cases involving the death penalty. If the Court’s justices had agreed to disqualify themselves, Governor Hutchinson would have appointed a full slate of special justices. Justice Jo Hart would have granted the motion.
The Supreme Court removed Griffen from cases involving the death penalty in April 2017 after Griffen participated in a vigil outside the Governor’s Mansion the same day he decided a property case involving a drug distributor seeking to get back from Arkansas drugs the state planned to use in an execution. The high court also referred Griffen to a judicial discipline panel for ethics violations. That case was dropped in June because it wasn’t decided within the 18 months required by ethics rules.
Griffen’s lawyer, Mike Laux, in describing the motion for disqualification when it was filed in July, described the justices as “extraordinarily conflicted in the matter.”