Arkansas Appeals Court judge unseated

Legal News Line May 20, 2008, 6:05pm



LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline)-Arkansas Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen lost his re-election bid Tuesday to a county circuit court judge. Her win over Griffen made Pulaski County Circuit Judge Rita Gruber the first challenger in eight years to unseat an appeals court judge. With 33 of 75 counties reporting Gruber had 59 percent of the vote, compared to Griffen's 40 percent, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State's Web site. Griffen has been in office since 1996, and argued that his experience on the state's second-highest court was the reason to re-elect him. An ordained Baptist minister, Griffen has lost two bids for election to the Supreme Court since 2004. The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission sought sanctions against him in 2002, after he criticized the University of Arkansas' racial diversity following the firing of a popular basketball coach. In the Northwest part of the state, attorneys Courtney Henry of Fayetteville and Ron Williams of Springdale ran for the District 3, Position 2 seat being vacated by Judge Sarah Hefley. With 33 of 75 counties reporting, Henry had 70 percent of the vote, compared to William's 29 percent. The tightest appeals court race was in Southeast Arkansas, where District Judge Waymond Brown faced attorney Eugene Hunt for a District 7 position. In that race, with 33 of 75 counties reporting, Hunt led Brown, 52 percent to 47 percent. In addition to the appeals court's races, 22 circuit court seats are contested. Precincts reported that voter turnout was low, but that was expected since there are no statewide or congressional contested races on the ballot. From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Lin Young at

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