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Sun Nov 18, 2018, 06:58 AM

Ethics charges against justices dismissed

LITTLE ROCK—A disciplinary panel dismissed ethics charges Friday against the Arkansas Supreme Court's justices over their decision to prohibit a judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration from hearing any execution-related cases.

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission voted unanimously to dismiss the charges that the court's seven justices violated ethics rules when they disqualified Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. The court last year prohibited Griffen from hearing death penalty cases after he was photographed laying on a cot during a demonstration outside the governor's mansion wearing an anti-death penalty button and surrounded by people holding signs opposing executions.

Earlier the day of the demonstration, Griffen blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug over the claims the drug supplier had been misled by the state.

A three-member panel earlier this year said the justices never gave Griffen notice or an opportunity to be heard over his removal. In dismissing the complaint Friday, the commission said it doesn't have jurisdiction to take action against judges for how they apply the law in the absence of "fraud, corrupt motive or bad faith." The justices had argued the commission didn't have jurisdiction over the complaint since it dealt with a legal issue and not an ethical matter.

Read more: http://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/arkansas/story/2018/nov/17/ethics-charges-against-justices-dismissed/752767/

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