Arkansas bill would limit use of the title justice/judge on ballots; bill failed in 2011 when senators left the chamber

March 12th, 2013 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

Arkansas incumbent judges are allowed to use their title on the ballot when seeking re-election to the same position or to another position (A.C.A. § 7-7-305). In 2011 when the Senate attempted to pass a bill (SB 828 of 2011) to limit the use of the title “judge” or “justice” to those serving at least 12 months in the position, 16 of the 35 members of the chamber left the chamber or declined to vote. The result in 2011 was both partisan and bipartisan: 8 Republican Senators and 8 Democrat Senators failed to vote or left; of the 19 Senators who did vote the the 12 Democrats voted in favor while the 7 Republicans voted against.

Jump to 2013 when a similar bill (SB 694) has been put forward. As introduced, the bill applied the 12-month-in-office requirement to all judges in the state except city courts (i.e. Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit, District). This version was approved by the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee on March 8.

The author has now amended the bill: the prefix “judge” or “justice” would be available only for Court of Appeals, Circuit, and District court races. Moreover, the change would apply only until June 20, 2015.

The amended version is set for a hearing before the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee today (March 12).