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Every justice on Arkansas’ top court paid bar license fees late; are three ineligible for service?

Posted Apr 11, 2014 7:48 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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All seven justices on the Arkansas Supreme Court have paid their bar dues late some time in the past, a possible issue for three justices because of an Arkansas constitutional provision requiring appeals judges to be licensed lawyers for at least eight years before taking office.

The Arkansas Blog of the Arkansas Times says it got the bar dues information in response to a freedom of information request. The three justices who paid late in the eight years before joining the court are Chief Justice Jim Hannah, Justice Karen Baker and Justice Courtney Hudson Henry, the blog says.

The issue got media attention after a specially appointed judge ruled a lawyer was not qualified to run for a Pulaski County judgeship because her law license was briefly suspended for nonpayment. Since then, at least three more suits were filed challenging eligibility for a judgeship. A circuit judge ruled Wednesday in one of those cases that it’s unconstitutional to suspend a lawyer’s license without holding a hearing.

Another targeted judge has asked the state supreme court to decide the issue. “Will Hannah, Baker and Henry be forced to recuse?” the Arkansas Blog asks.

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