The Arkansas Supreme Court today overturned a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge’s ruling that Lawrence County District Judge Adam Weeks of Walnut Ridge was ineligible to run for circuit judge for Division Three in the Third Judicial District, which covers Randolph, Lawrence, Sharp and Jackson counties.
Little Rock attorney Chris Burks, representing Randolph County voter Judith Miller, had sought Weeks’ removal because of four misdemeanor hot check violations and a misdemeanor fictitious tag charge.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled Weeks couldn’t be disqualified on the hot check charges because, though he forfeited bond on the charges, he did not appear and enter a guilty plea. The Constitution requires for disqualification that a person “admit an act of deceit, fraud or false statement.” Weeks, however, did admit to appearing and pleading guilty to the false tag charge. He argued this was not an “infamous” crime of the sort for which disqualification is required. He said the court should analyze the circumstances.
But Piazza, despite acknowledging the “absurd” outcome of the ruling, said the court, “regrettably,” was prevented from making such an analysis. The Constitution is “straightforward” and the “plain language” requires disqualification of anyone convicted of a charge involving dishonesty. The Court of Appeals has held that a false tag charge includes an element of dishonesty. It prohibits displaying on a vehicle a tag not intended for that vehicle.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in favor of overturning Piazza’s ruling. Chief Justice Dan Kemp dissented.
Three other candidates are also on the ballot for the vacant Third District seat — Timothy Watson, Hollie Wilson and Joe Grider. Weeks perhaps has an advantage by being able to run as Judge Adams Weeks, though he had to shut down his campaign during the appeals process.