Voters elect Arkansas justice who sued over ads; 2 West Virginia justices appointed after turmoil

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Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson.

Tumultuous Supreme Court races in Arkansas and West Virginia have ended with wins for the incumbents.

In Arkansas, a justice who sued over attack ads funded by conservative groups won re-election on Tuesday, report KATV and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Justice Courtney Goodson won re-election even though a federal judge on Nov. 1 refused to halt ads by the group, the Republican State Leadership Committee’s Judicial Fairness Initiative.

The group spent $1.2 million on the ads targeting donor gifts to the justice; Goodson countered that she recused from cases involving a friend who gave her a trip to Italy and complied with ethics rules that barred her from knowing the source of campaign donations.

Goodson previously sued over attack ads by a different group, the Judicial Crisis Network. She won a May court victory in that case when a state court judge issued an order blocking the TV attack ads in central Arkansas. That decision is on appeal.

In West Virginia, voters elected two justices temporarily appointed to the court by the state’s Republican governor after their predecessors resigned amid a controversy over court spending, report the Charleston Gazette-Mail and West Virginia Metro News.

Voters elected former GOP state House speaker Tim Armstead to complete the term of Justice Menis Ketchum, who resigned in July and later pleaded guilty to a felony count of wire fraud for personal use of a state vehicle.

Former Republican congressman Evan Jenkins was elected to complete the term of Justice Robin Davis, who resigned after state lawmakers approved articles of impeachment against her and three other justices remaining on the court. Davis filed a federal lawsuit challenging the impeachment vote.

Ads funded by political action committees had promoted Armstead and Jenkins as a team, according to West Virginia Metro News. Gov. Jim Justice also backed the two candidates in a 30-minute informercial on the eve of the election.

None of the impeached West Virginia justices has been convicted in an impeachment trial.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, acting with stand-in justices, blocked the impeachment trial of the state’s chief justice, Margaret Workman, on constitutional grounds in October. Another justice, Beth Walker, was acquitted in her October impeachment trial.

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