How to Ensure Impartial Justices in Arkansas? A Quandary

Judge Kemp
Judge Kemp

As possible reforms to judicial selection in Arkansas are debated, future Chief Justice Dan Kemp noted that current ethics rules create a quandary, and may invite revision, according to The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 

He pointed to ethics rules that say a judicial candidate ought not know who contributed to his or her campaign. At the same time, ethics rules require a judge to recuse from any case involving a campaign donation large enough to “raise questions as to the judge’s impartiality.” Kemp said, “It’s a difficult situation. I do believe we need to look at some possible reforms.”

After hundreds of thousands of dollars in political “dark money” were spent in this year’s Arizona Supreme Court election, there have been calls for tough disclosure rules. At the same time, some advocates have urged a switch to merit selection of judges. The Democrat-Gazette article outlined options that might be considered for reform, including a rules change adopted by the court’s justices themselves.