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The Senate Judiciary Committee, over the objections of the Judicial Council, on Wednesday advanced a bill that would require circuit court judges to disqualify from cases involving former staffers and their families.

Senate Bill 311, by Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, would require the recusals for three years after the staff member left the judge's office.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

Clark earlier amended the bill to exempt former interns, at the request of the Judicial Council.

The council, however, remained opposed to the bill, said Jennifer Craun, a staff member at the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Craun said Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood had wanted to address the committee but was unable to attend the late Wednesday afternoon meeting.

Clark, the committee chairman, responded that he had told council members that he planned to run the bill that afternoon.

The committee supported the bill on a voice vote, with Sen. Will Bond, D-Little Rock, voicing his dissent. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

-- John Moritz

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