AR Sen. Trent Garner Efforting Impeachment of Judge Wendell Griffen

Posted By Max Brantley
 
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Times) - Sen. Trent Garner has used the Senate information office to distribute a statement in which he calls on the state House to issue articles of impeachment of Judge Wendell Griffen for his trial by the Senate.
 
Griffen infuriated Garner and others by joining an anti-death penalty demonstration outside the Governor's Mansion after he'd issued an order against the state in a lawsuit alleging it had obtained execution drugs from a supplier by dishonest means. He says Griffen should be removed for "gross misconduct."
 
Garner cited other statements made by Griffen that Garner finds objectionable — about police, the Little Rock School District, Israel and others. It's a slippery slope to remove people from public office over speech you don't like, but Garner is a known foe of the 1st Amendment. He tried to make mass picketing illegal during the recent legislative session.
 
Griffen was removed from the drug case without a hearing by the Arkansas Supreme Court after the attorney general objected. He has since, in Garner's words, "doubled down" by saying the attorney general and Supreme Court should be investigated for what Griffen believes to be ethical flaws in handling of his case. Griffen said he has a right to speak on issues and said his beliefs don't influence his rulemaking, anymore than any other judges' beliefs influence theirs. A judge appointed to the case after Griffen was removed ruled exactly as Griffen had — that the drug distributor had made a case that its drug shouldn't be used for an execution because it had been obtained in bad faith through misrepresentations. The Supreme Court also overrode that order to allow executions to proceed with the controversial sedative midazolam.
 
Garner's statement expressed no interest in pursuing the state's dishonesty in seeking execution drugs.
 
Special sessions are typically limited to items on the governor's call, but the legislature, by extraordinary votes, can expand its agenda.
 
Here's Garner's full statement:

"A Disgrace to the Court

Judge Griffen's anti-police, racially insensitive comments have no place in our justice system.

The state of Arkansas made national headlines in the past few weeks because of our decision to move forward with a number of executions. As expected, a large number of appeals and court battles ensued by parties representing the condemned. The Arkansas legal system was on display for the world to see and unfortunately one judge decided to use this attention to make a mockery of our judicial process. Instead of acting as a neutral arbiter of the law, he selfishly disregarded his duties as a judge.

The judge in question is Wendell Griffen from Pulaski County. On Good Friday, about an hour after he had made a critical ruling against the state that effectively halted the executions, Griffen strapped himself to a cot in front of the Governor's mansion to protest the executions he had just stopped. Making a public statement about a case in which he was still involved reeks of bias. Setting aside the merits of the case itself, Griffen attacked the integrity of our legal system by showing some parties can't get a fair trial in his court.

Griffen has a long history of this kind of extreme and reckless statement. A few of the most egregious examples are:

He called our brave police officers "terrorist" and said we should "punish the terrorist...disguised as agent of law enforcement."

He said that we live under a system of "white supremacy, "where white people have a fear of "losing control over people of color."

He said that the leaders of Little Rock School system are a "white supremacist tyranny" who "pimp children."

He claimed that the United States is "subsidizing tyranny and fascism by Israel against Palestinians."

Clearly, Griffen has shown that he is not fit to be on the bench. While any respectable judge would resign from his office, Griffen has doubled down. He is now calling for an investigation for ethic violations against the Attorney General and the Arkansas Supreme Court. The irony of Griffen calling for an ethics investigation against anyone would be laughable if this were not such a serious issue.

Because of his gross misconduct in office, I am calling for the Arkansas House of Representatives to bring an article of impeachment against Judge Wendell Griffen. He should never again be allowed to hold office of any sort in Arkansas. We as the General Assembly can remove the stain that Griffen has left on our judicial integrity."


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