Officials Recusing From Investigation Into Arkansas Judge

May 30, 2017

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen laying down on a cot during a protest outside the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, mimicking an inmate being strapped to a gurney.
Credit Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The top two officials for a judicial ethics panel are recusing themselves from investigations involving an Arkansas judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he issued an order that effectively blocked executions in the state.

The executive director and deputy director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Tuesday stepped away from the cases involving Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who lay on a cot outside the governor's mansion last month after blocking the state from using a lethal injection drug.

The panel is investigating a complaint against Griffen as well as his complaint against the state Supreme Court over its decision to bar him from death penalty cases. Justices also lifted Griffen's order.

The commission must appoint special counsel to handle the complaints.