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story.lead_photo.caption Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen lies on a cot Tuesday outside the Governor’s Mansion during a vigil against capital punishment. Griffen did the same thing at an anti-capital-punishment rally last year and was subsequently barred by the state Supreme Court from hearing capital punishment cases. - Photo by Gavin Lesnick

A judge barred from presiding over death-penalty cases participated in a vigil Tuesday marking the four executions that the state carried out over a two-week period last year.

Just as he did at a rally last year, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen lay motionless on a cot Tuesday evening outside the Governor's Mansion while about 40 opponents of capital punishment gathered nearby.

Griffen rose from the cot shortly after 7 p.m. after a man untangled the judge from a rope that loosely tied him to the green cot. Asked why he participated in the protest again and whether he was concerned with the perception, he gave the same answer twice.

"We are still killing," he said.

Griffen, who is also a Baptist minister, has sued the state's Supreme Court justices, claiming they violated his constitutional rights by banning him from hearing death-penalty cases in response to his participation on Good Friday last year in an anti-death-penalty rally on the steps of the state Capitol and later in a protest at the Governor's Mansion during which he lay on a cot "in solidarity" with Jesus.

Earlier that same day -- on April 14, 2017 -- Griffen had issued a temporary restraining order that prevented the state from using the drug vercuronium bromide in executions. The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit filed by the drug's manufacturer, which said the state had illegally obtained the drug.

Last week, a federal judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit against the seven justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court, but the high court itself was dismissed from the case.

Dozens of anti-death-penalty supporters gathered outside the northern gates of the Governor's Mansion as Griffen lay on the green cot.

Furonda Brasfield, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said the dozens of capital-punishment opponents gathered Tuesday to remember the lives lost last year and the victims of violent crime. The supporters, she said, also gathered to build resolve and commitment to their goal of abolishing the death penalty and replacing it with life without parole.

She also recalled last year's demonstrations and executions.

"It was like a roller-coaster ride, because there were so many stays and so many appeals," she said.

Brasfield thanked Griffen for standing up for his moral and religious beliefs against the death penalty, and said the group continues to have faith in Griffen as a judge who can make decisions based on the law and not on how he feels personally.

Information for this article was contributed by Linda Satter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 04/18/2018

Print Headline: Judge takes to cot again in death-penalty protest

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  • smmlv3
    April 18, 2018 at 8:06 a.m.

    I have less respect for him with each of his shenanigans.

  • PenLR
    April 18, 2018 at 8:23 a.m.

    Get him off the bench!

  • TimberTopper
    April 18, 2018 at 8:48 a.m.

    Gentlemen, did he do this act while being on court time or was it on his own time? I don't recall any where that it says if you are a judge, you have lost your rights as an American citizen.

  • nottingham
    April 18, 2018 at 8:56 a.m.

    This guy is a clown.

  • SJB
    April 18, 2018 at 9:01 a.m.

    Stop giving him free PR!

  • Delta2
    April 18, 2018 at 9:24 a.m.

    Timber, I can see your point, but this is a judge who needs to be free of the appearance of personal bias if he's ruling on potential death penalty cases. (FYI, I'm not a big fan of capital punishment.) It's an automatic appeal from prosecutors if a murder defendant walks. At the very least, he should quit pushing the envelope.

  • Hindu
    April 18, 2018 at 9:32 a.m.

    All this does is show me more proof he doesn't belong on a court bench.

  • mrcharles
    April 18, 2018 at 9:52 a.m.

    Common Cause, questioned whether Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas should have disqualified themselves from participating in the landmark Citizens United case on campaign finance because they had attended a political retreat in Palm Springs, Calif., sponsored by Charles Koch, a conservative financier. Koch funds groups that could benefit from the ruling [ you think?!?!] .Among the court’s members, he was the most frequent traveler, to spots around the globe, on trips paid for by private sponsors. Statements made at Federalist society.

    See bush v Gore, the conflicts with Scalia, OConnor, Thomas.

    they are obligated, according to the Federal Judicial Disqualification statute, 28 USC 455(a), which applies to all federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, to disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

    Being a deity system believer [ sad to report] would not his absence to protest be considered a support of the death penalty?

    Most, not all, hate WG because he is a uppity black as many coffee drinkers of the white race retort to anything to do with WG. Never heard once any praise for his journey to become a lawyer considered to be a member of a prestigious law firm in LR , or his duties to the normally gushing over a educated mammal believing in belief of a belief [ I know this can be a negative]

    Just for speculation Sherriff nuttingham, would not a IQ test result in his superiority?

    The often made statements about the good ole days I think and believe [therefore having pronounced this, it is true] refer to the ability to silence uppity blacks that was prevalent and supported by the judeo-christian state and nation!

    Perhaps this is what trump , the new deity appointed by the Most High, meant when he indicated that USA is not so innocent and the flag lapel wearers, the patriots of flying confederate flags and/or worshiping Idols of southern "gentlemen" supporters of slavery of creations of the creator by killing soldiers of the army of the United States of America, the true patriots like dick the dick cheney and rush limbaugh were kind enough to serve in the military so that they could not screw up any outfit they were in, and other definers of what it is to be a real merican, the point being they did not contest this trump statement [ though quite true, perhaps a singularity in his spouts] . WHERE WAS THE OUTRAGE FROM THE RATS IN THE CAGE?

    I believe he should be thrown off the bench for believing in nonsense which would be more of a conflict of interest on anything he has done so far. We dont want sharia law or any OT & NT laws either.

  • obbie
    April 18, 2018 at 10:43 a.m.

    Now there he goes again, sleeping on the job.

  • Packman
    April 18, 2018 at 10:47 a.m.

    Would be interesting to know how many of the protestors, including Griffen, also oppose the death penalty for the unborn (Roe v Wade)?