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Appointed vs. Elected?

One of the biggest debates in the political community is whether judges should be elected or appointed.

Electing folks inherently creates loyalty to supporters – this makes electing judges difficult & different from electing legislators or senators because judges are supposed to be impartial (not loyal to a cause or people). Do elections create judicial politicians? Or ensure accountability to the public?

Appointing judges doesn’t fix the problem, just dresses it up in different clothes – Does appointing them encourage “behind closed doors” deals and handshakes to garner an appointment? No matter how judges end up on the bench, the folks in front of them always wonder to whom their loyalties lie.

Good or bad, like it or not, Judges in Arkansas are elected & non-partisan – meaning they can’t publicly say if they are Democrat or Republican and they can’t allow the parties to endorse them.

2020 Judicial Elections

Judges sit for a term of 6 years, but once elected are very hard to un-seat. In Arkansas, judges can remain on the bench past 70 years old, but they forfeit their retirement. Practically, this creates an age limit – one that many current judges have reached & creating over 250 contested judicial races across the state.

The races are packed in 2020!

Judicial Elections are March 3, 2020. If any one candidate does not receive a majority of the vote, there will be a run-off for that seat on November 2, 2020. Winning candidates take the bench January 2, 2021.

This blog series is intended to introduce you to each candidate as you decide which ones deserve your support…and vote! The decisions we make as voters have lasting impact on our lives – these judges make decisions about criminal issues, family issues, & your disputes with your neighbor. Don’t take your responsibility lightly.

Getting to Know Your Candidates

We posed the exact same questions to all the candidates (and imposed a 100-word limit on responses!) Over the next several weeks, we will share profiles of each judicial candidate in Central Arkansas. Lion Legal Services is not endorsing or analyzing or comparing these candidates; we areSimply to get to know them and their judicial philosophies, we asked:

  1. Please provide a short statement of your biographical information.
  2. What makes you uniquely qualified for this position?
  3. What is your general judicial philosophy? What policy change would you advocate for in our judicial system?
  4. Arkansas has the lowest number of attorneys per capita of any state in the nation & a very low median income, meaning traditional legal services are unaffordable for many Arkansans. What individual, practical steps will you take in your courtroom to increase meaningful access to the justice system if you are elected?

Contested Races in Central Arkansas

Pulaski & Perry Counties (District 6)

Saline County (District 22)

Garland County (District 18E)

White & Prairie Counties (District 17)

  • Division 17: Daniel Brock v. Carla Fuller

Jefferson and Lincoln Counties (District 11W)

  • Division 3, Subdistrict 11.2: Tom Owens v. Mac Norton v. Therese Free

Grant and Hot Spring Counties (District 7)

  • Division 7: Stephen Shirron v. Margaret Dobson