The Arkansas Supreme Court in a brief order today again refused to restore the ability of Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen to hear death penalty cases.
The per curiam (unsigned) order, in which Justice Josephine Hart did not participate, said:
Petitioner, Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, acting pro se, seeks relief from In re Pulaski County Circuit Court, No. 17-155 (Apr. 17, 2017). Although the procedural basis for his petition is unclear, we consider it a petition for rehearing. According to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 2-3, petitions for rehearing “shall be filed within 18 calendar days from the date of the decision.” Because Judge Griffen did not file his petition for rehearing within 18 days of our April 17, 2017 decision, it is denied.
The Court removed Griffen from capital cases in 2017 after he participated in a death penalty protest at the Governor’s Mansion. It also referred him to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, which ultimately took no action. In light of an absence of a finding of ethical misconduct, Griffen petitioned the court earlier this summer for restoration of the ability to hear such cases.
This case is wholly separate from — though essential to — the new controversy involving Griffen in which Attorney General Leslie Rutledge wants him removed from all cases involving her office. She argues that rulings against her office by Griffen and his treatment of staff suggest bias. He contends the office has been treated fairly. More filings are expected today in Rutledge’s “emergency” request to get an order overturned in which Griffen ordered speedy disclosure of evidence that the attorney general doesn’t want to provide in the appeal of denial of a permit to sell medical marijuana. Rutledge contends the state can’t be sued on the issue.