Gruber to head up state appeals court

Court of Appeals Judge Rita Gruber of North Little Rock, who was re-elected in March, was appointed last week to serve a four-year term as chief judge of the court starting Jan. 1.

Outgoing Supreme Court Chief Justice Howard Brill and his successor, Chief Justice-elect Dan Kemp, announced the appointment in a joint statement Thursday.

Gruber will replace Chief Judge Robert Gladwin, who has served atop the state's second-highest court since 2012. Gladwin was re-elected to an eight-year term from District 3 in 2010, and will continue to serve as one of the court's 12 judges.

The chief judge is tasked with the administrative duties of the Court of Appeals, and presides over all court conferences. Judges on the court are paid $161,500, and as chief judge Gruber will make $164,000 a year.

Gruber did not return calls to her office Monday. In the March nonpartisan judicial election, Gruber was unopposed in her re-election bid.

Reached by phone Monday, Kemp said he suggested that Brill select Gruber, and the two decided to issue a joint news release. Kemp said he has known Gruber for 25 years.

"I'm well familiar with her judicial abilities as well as her administrative talents," Kemp said. "I think she'll do an outstanding job."

Gruber was selected by the Pulaski County justices of the peace to serve as interim county judge in 1989, when both she and her husband, Wayne Gruber, worked as Quorum Court attorneys. She served in the role until 1991.

She later served as a circuit judge in the 6th Judicial Circuit before being elected to the Court of Appeals in 2008.

Gruber graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1973, and also earned a law degree from the university's W.H. Bowen School of Law.

Metro on 11/22/2016

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