Jim Hannah says he's stepping down as Arkansas' chief justice at the end of the month because of a "significant" health issue.
Hannah on Thursday announced he will leave the court Aug. 31, more than a year before his eight-year term on the court expires. Hannah had been widely expected to not seek re-election next year.
Hannah said in a statement he's resigning to focus full-time on his health.
The people of Arkansas elected me to our state’s highest court in year 2000. I will be forever grateful. It is with great pride and pleasure that I have served on the Arkansas Supreme Court for over fourteen years, the last ten in the role of Chief Justice. In recent weeks I have been challenged by a significant health issue. Having the utmost respect for my job as Chief Justice and the business of the court, I have made a decision to tender my resignation effective at the end of August 31, 2015 to focus full-time on addressing my immediate health condition. There is no greater honor that a person can receive than to have another person place his or her trust and confidence in you. I want to thank the people of Arkansas who placed their trust and confidence in me and allowed me to serve them on their Arkansas Supreme Court. I sincerely appreciate the excellent staff that has worked with me. I have been privileged to work with some of the best district court judges, circuit court judges, appellate court judges, and justices in the country. I have also been privileged to work with our excellent Administrative Office of the Courts, it’s leadership and dedicated employees. Lastly, thank you to my wife Pat for her sacrifice and support.
Hannah was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 2000 and was elected chief justice in 2004. He was elected to a full eight-year term as chief justice in 2008.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson also responded to the news with a written statement:
I spoke to the Chief Justice yesterday and received his official resignation earlier today. I thanked him for his extraordinary service to our state, while representing the finest of the legal tradition in his many years of public service. Even in his resignation, the Chief Justice has placed the courts and the people of Arkansas above his personal interests, and, while I recognize this is a tough decision for him to make, he made it for the right reasons and we are forever grateful for his dedication to the rule of law.