Jessica Karmasek Aug. 17, 2015, 8:31am


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) - Arkansas’ Supreme Court Chief Justice says he is resigning from his seat on the bench at the end of the month due to health problems.

Jim Hannah said in a statement Thursday his resignation would be effective Aug. 31 to “focus full-time on addressing my immediate health condition.”

Hannah, who had more than a year left in his eight-year term, did not provide any additional details on his condition.

“In recent weeks I have been challenged by a significant health issue,” he said.

Hannah went on to thank the state’s residents, the court staff, fellow judges and justices, and his wife, Pat.

“The people of Arkansas elected me to our state’s highest court in year 2000. I will be forever grateful,” he said. “It is with great pride and pleasure that I have served on the Arkansas Supreme Court for over 14 years, the last 10 in the role of chief justice.

“There is no greater honor that a person can receive than to have another person place his or her trust and confidence in you.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said he received Hannah’s resignation Wednesday, thanked the chief justice for his “extraordinary service” to the state.

“Even in his resignation, the chief justice has placed the courts and the people of Arkansas above his personal interests, and, while I recognize this is a tough decision for him to make, he made it for the right reasons and we are forever grateful for his dedication to the rule of law,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

The governor will appoint someone to fill Hannah’s seat until the 2016 election. Hannah wasn’t expected to run because he turns 70 -- the state’s mandatory retirement age -- before the term ends.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also issued a statement on the chief justice’s resignation last week, calling him a “highly respected attorney and judge.”

“Through his service as a prosecuting attorney, city attorney, juvenile judge, chancery and probate judge, justice and now chief justice, Jim Hannah has served the people of Arkansas with humility and wisdom,” she said.

“Chief Justice Hannah consistently provided a fair and impartial approach to any question or case brought before him, and his leadership of the court will be greatly missed.”

Rutledge added, “I pray that the Lord will bring strength and courage to Chief Justice Hannah and his wife, Pat, during this time, and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Hannah was first elected to the seven-member high court in 2001 and then re-elected in 2008. He was first elected to his eight-year term as chief justice in 2004.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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Arkansas Supreme Court
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