Arkansas Judicial System

THEIR HONORS: Karen Baker (center) takes oath with Courtney Goodson (left) and Jo Hart.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Invitations are in the mail.

Talk Business & Politics has learned that Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson will have a reception to kick off her campaign for Chief Justice of the state’s high court next week.

On Tuesday, Sept. 8th Lisa and James Miller of Bryant will host a reception for Goodson from 5:30-7:30 p.m., according to an invitation to the reception. The event is not touted as a fundraiser.

Goodson has been rumored to be eyeing the chief justice position. She was first elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2010.

Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah’s resignation goes into effect Monday,  August 31, 2015. Hannah issued a farewell letter on his last day in office.

Earlier in August the nearly 70-year old Chief Justice cited health concerns as his reason for resigning. He chose not to elaborate on the specific health concerns in his letter. Instead he focused on the positive aspects of his time on the state’s highest court saying,

Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed University of Arkansas judicial ethics professor Howard Brill as Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court Tuesday.

Brill has taught law for 40 years and served as a special justice to the Arkansas Supreme Court. He said his judicial philosophy is one of restraint and adherence to the law.

Office of the Governor

35 men on Arkansas’s death row are now closer than anyone in the state has been in years to receiving a lethal injection. Governor Asa Hutchinson told reporters on Thursday he could soon begin scheduling execution dates. 

A former Arkansas district judge convicted of drug charges has been sentenced in an unrelated mail fraud case involving American Indian artifacts.

Bob Castleman, who was a judge in Pocahontas over a decade ago, has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and must pay nearly $16,800 in restitution.

The Jonesboro Sun reports  that Castleman had claimed to an insurance company in 2012 that Native American arrowheads were stolen from his residence. FBI agents later found the arrowheads in 2013.

Larry Jegley
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

The Arkansas House Judiciary Committee postponed a decision on a bill  Tuesday that would end life sentences without parole for crimes committed by juveniles.  The bill was pulled down for amendments following nearly two hours of discussion.

House Bill 1197 would end life without parole for individuals convicted of committing murder  before the age of 18 and allows for parole eligibility after a 20 year sentence if there was no intent to murder and 28 years for an intentional killing.

The FBI says it's looking into campaign donations made to a former circuit judge for his failed Arkansas Court of Appeals campaign.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the federal agency confirmed it's investigating contributions that came from political action committees traced back to a nursing home owner who had a case pending in Michael Maggio's court.

An FBI spokeswoman says she can't comment because it's an ongoing investigation.

Democratic Attorney General Nominee State Rep. Nate Steel (Nashville)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Democratic nominee for Arkansas attorney general Nate Steel took steps to distinguish himself from his Republican opponent Tuesday at the Political Animals Club in Little Rock. Steel said unlike his closest competitor Leslie Rutledge he will not focus on lawsuits against the EPA and federal government but instead on issues related to crime.

An Arkansas judge has agreed to never seek judicial office again in the state after admitting that he made inappropriate comments online, including the revelation of confidential details involving actress Charlize Theron's adoption of her son.

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced Wednesday that Circuit Judge Mike Maggio has agreed to be suspended for the rest of the year with pay, then be removed from office. The state Supreme Court must approve the agreement.

An Arkansas jury sentenced a man to life in prison for a murder in retaliation for missing crack cocaine. The Texarkana Gazette reports a Miller County jury returned the verdict for 26-year-old Serandon Ramon Starling on Wednesday afternoon.

It took the jury 30 minutes to find him guilty of murder and committing a terroristic act. It took them 10 minutes to sentence him to two life terms and 15 years on each count of using a firearm in a felony.