State News

Judge Griffen Granted Hearing Before Judicial Discipline for Death Penalty Protest

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has been granted a hearing before the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission (JDDC) for his anti-death penalty protest in April 2017.

The hearing will take place Friday, August 17 at 9:30 a.m. at the office of the JDDC. 

According to the filed court documents, Special Counsel and one counsel representing Respondent will be given twenty minutes each for argument. 

The JDDC announced on June 8 that ethics charges had been filed in connection to Griffen's anti-death penalty protest. Both last year and April 17 of this year, Griffen strapped himself to a cot and lay motionless as a display against capital punishment. After his actions in 2017, the judge, who is also a Baptist preacher, was barred from hearing death penalty cases.

The JDDC has said Griffen's public opposition to the death penalty violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. 

Griffen's attorney Michael Laux argues the judge's actions are protected under the First Amendment. A federal judge ruled earlier this month that Griffen cannot sue the Arkansas Supreme Court as a single entity for barring him from hearing execution-related cases. However, that same judge said Griffen can sue the individual justices and those lawsuits still stand.

Click here to read today's filed hearing document. 

See the attached headlines for more background on the case. 

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