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Arkansas senator calls for impeachment of judge after death-penalty protest

By Brandon Riddle

This article was published May 1, 2017 at 2:33 p.m.

pulaski-county-circuit-judge-wendell-griffen-shown-protesting-at-the-governors-mansion-in-april-said-on-his-blog-that-he-was-portraying-a-crucified-jesus-and-that-his-hat-covered-a-black-leather-bound-king-james-version-of-the-bible-the-book-that-my-parents-taught-me-to-read-and-love-as-a-child

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, shown protesting at the Governor’s Mansion in April, said on his blog that he was portraying a crucified Jesus and that his hat covered “a black leather bound King James Version of the Bible, the book that my parents taught me to read and love as a child.”


An Arkansas senator is calling for the impeachment of a judge whose death-penalty protest in front of the governor's mansion ahead of executions last month sparked a debate over ethics and impartiality.

The display came about an hour after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen effectively halted the state’s planned executions by ruling April 14 against the state over a paralytic used in lethal injections.

Griffen lay strapped to a cot in front of the governor's residence, The Associated Press reported. The judge said he was portraying a crucified Jesus and that his hat covered a "black leather bound King James Version of the Bible."

State Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, said in a statement Monday that the protest “reeks of bias,” adding that Griffen “selfishly disregarded his duties as a judge.”

“The Arkansas legal system was on display for the world to see and unfortunately one judge decided to use this attention to make a mockery of our judicial process,” the legislator wrote.

Griffen noted on his online blog that the ruling was about property ownership related to one of three drugs used in the state's lethal injections. It was not about capital punishment, the judge said.

Garner said that Griffen has a “long history of this kind of extreme and reckless” behavior. He cited references to police officers as “terrorist” and society as a system of “white supremacy” as examples.

The Republican lawmaker said he is now calling for the state House of Representatives to bring an article of impeachment against Griffen.

“We as the General Assembly can remove the stain that Griffen has left on our judicial integrity,” the legislator concluded.

Griffen has called for an investigation into possible ethics violations committed by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and the Arkansas Supreme Court after he was stripped of his authority to hear death-penalty cases.

Four Arkansas inmates — Ledell Lee, Jack Jones, Marcel Williams and Kenneth Williams — were put to death over a 10-day period in April. Eight executions had initially been scheduled.

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Comments on: Arkansas senator calls for impeachment of judge after death-penalty protest

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tuskerfan says... May 1, 2017 at 3:02 p.m.

Me. Garner has my support and thanks for taking action! Griffen is unfit to be a judge.

( | suggest removal )

Packman says... May 1, 2017 at 3:09 p.m.

Is there a petition I can sign to do as the good Senator says?

( | suggest removal )

foxball says... May 1, 2017 at 3:25 p.m.

Judges are supposed to be impartial, Griffen has never been impartial from the times I have heard his name he is always expressing his opinion and then instead using the correct method of what the laws say he rules on cases based on his personal opinions or viewpoints not case law. He is a joke as a Judge, he should be impeached as soon as possible.

( | suggest removal )

JPRoland says... May 1, 2017 at 4:05 p.m.

Oh! I completely misunderstood. I thought he was depicting one of the victims. I thought he was demonstrating the horror of rape, throat slashing, and strangulation which happened to victims of these convicted murderers.

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arkateacher54 says... May 1, 2017 at 4:08 p.m.

I hope this succeeds. Griffen is a joke.

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TimberTopper says... May 1, 2017 at 4:23 p.m.

Since we have knowledge of a senator and a house member getting kickbacks, is there a petition I can sign to get rid of all of them, as they have taken the people's money in wages and have produced so very little in the way of reasonable laws?

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titleist10 says... May 1, 2017 at 5:17 p.m.

Impeach Griffin

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Delta2 says... May 1, 2017 at 6:34 p.m.

I respect Judge Griffen's opinion, but he is certainly throwing it in everyone's face with his antics. Poor judgment leads to job loss in just about every field (not counting athletics, depending on one's ability, lol), and the bench should not be an exception.

( | suggest removal )

JB23 says... May 1, 2017 at 6:56 p.m.

Never a good thing when the United Nations talks about Arkansas.

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NoUserName says... May 1, 2017 at 7:02 p.m.

Delta - "I respect Judge Griffen's opinion"
.
I certainly don't. I've read his blog. Some of the racial things he says are downright ridiculous. I don't see how any white man can get a fair trial in his court. Given that and the incident here, he should NOT be a sitting judge. As much as I'm with Timber and these nuts in the leg, this is one instance I'm on-board with the senator. Griffin should be bounced.

( | suggest removal )

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