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story.lead_photo.caption The Washington County Courthouse, Tuesday, February 14, 2017 in downtown Fayetteville. ( David Gottschalk)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County voters will have to decide several judicial races next year, including filling a new circuit judge position.

Five candidates are vying for the new Division 8 seat in the 4th Judicial District, which includes Washington and Madison counties. The new judge is expected to hear juvenile and family law cases.

The candidates are Mieka Hatcher, Brian Hogue, Conrad Odom, Tim Snively and Diane Warren. All are Fayetteville residents.

Hatcher, 48, has served as a deputy prosecutor in the 4th District since 1998 and is now chief deputy prosecutor. She began her career as a prosecutor in Benton County Juvenile Court in 1997.

Hatcher received a law degree from the University of Arkansas' School of Law in 1996.

She has taught trial advocacy as an adjunct professor at her alma mater for more than 10 years.

Hogue, 38, began his law practice with Wright, Lindsey & Jennings in Little Rock handling civil litigation, according to his announcement. Hogue joined his brother, David Hogue, in 2011 to form Hogue Law Firm in Fayetteville.

His practice includes domestic relations and civil litigation. He's the city attorney for Goshen and a certified mediator for civil and domestic relations matters.

Hogue got his law degree in 2009 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's William H. Bowen School of Law.

Odom, 54, has practiced law for 27 years with the Odom Law Firm and is a certified mediator.

He served on the Fayetteville City Council and Fayetteville School Board.

Odom received a law degree in 1991 from the University of Arkansas' School of Law.

Snively, 54, has practiced law for 22 years, representing clients in civil, criminal and family law matters, according to his announcement. He has trial experience working in all the state and federal courts in the area.

Snively served on the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct. The committee has the responsibility and authority to discipline attorneys for violation of ethical rules.

Snively received a law degree from the University of Arkansas' School of Law in 1997.

Warren, 55, is a former attorney ad litem, a lawyer appointed by a court to act as an advocate for the best interests of a minor. She is chairwoman-elect of the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Section of the Arkansas Bar Association and has been selected to author an updated version of the Domestic Relations Handbook, a legal resource.

Warren has operated her Warren Law Firm since 2012.

Warren received a law degree in 1996 from Indiana University's School of Law in Bloomington.

Division 3

Only one incumbent circuit judge in the 4th Judicial District drew an opponent this election.

Stacey Zimmerman, the juvenile court judge, will face Robert L. Depper III for the Division 3 bench. Both are Fayetteville residents.

Depper, 41, has owned Depper Legal Services since 2014. He was assistant director of the state Administrative Office of the Court's Parent Counsel Program, where he focused on general legal services and family law. Depper was a lawyer for the state Human Services Department Office of Policy and Legal Services from 2009 to 2014. He worked at the Bassett Law Firm in 2008 and 2009.

He's served as an attorney ad litem handling domestic relations and probate issues.

Depper received a law degree in 2008 from the University of Arkansas' School of Law.

Zimmerman, 56, has served as the juvenile court judge for the 4th District since first being elected in 1998.

Zimmerman hears about 150 cases each week involving children in foster care, abused and neglected children, adoptions, truancy and delinquency. She oversees 18 juvenile court officers. Zimmerman estimates she's heard 19,000 cases in her 20 years on the bench. She also serves as administrative judge for the 4th District.

She was a deputy prosecutor in the district handling juvenile cases from 1993 through 1998.

Zimmerman received a law degree in 1989 from the University of Arkansas' School of Law.

Elections in Arkansas for judges are nonpartisan. The 2020 election will be March 3. Runoffs will be on the general election ballot in November. The judge will take office Jan. 1, 2021.

Circuit judges serve six-year terms and are paid $168,096 a year.

Four incumbent judges whose terms end Dec. 31, 2020, are unopposed for reelection. They include Doug Martin in Division 1, John Threet in Division 2, Cristi Beaumont in Division 4 and Beth Storey Bryan in Division 5.

District Courts

Three people have filed to run for the District 2, Division 4 seat being vacated by Judge William Storey. The court is in Fayetteville.

The candidates are David Dero Phillips, Mark Scalise and Terra Stephenson, all from Fayetteville.

Phillips, 58, has been a deputy city attorney in Springdale since 2013.

He has been practicing in district courts for more than 11 years, where he has prosecuted more than 1,000 driving-while-intoxicated cases and hundreds of domestic violence cases. Phillips was a deputy prosecutor in district and circuit courts in Carroll County from 2008 to 2013. Before that, he spent 20 years in the Army, serving as a military policeman and then as a budget analyst at the Pentagon from 1999 to 2002.

Phillips received his law degree from the University of Arkansas' School of Law in 2008.

Scalise, a lawyer for 27 years in Washington County and Philadelphia, is a former deputy prosecutor in Washington and Madison counties. His private practice areas include criminal, civil and intellectual property law.

Scalise, 59, has also worked in management and business development roles for companies such as Ingersoll-Rand, General Electric and J.B. Hunt Transport.

Scalise received his law degree in 1992 from the University of Arkansas' School of Law.

Stephenson, 44, is senior deputy prosecutor in the 4th District, where she assists supervising a staff of almost 40.

She has handled thousands of felony cases in every aspect of criminal law from homicides to sexual assaults and child abuse in her 13 years as a prosecutor.

Stephenson received a law degree in 2006 from the University of Arkansas' School of Law.

Three incumbent district judges face no opponents. They include Jeff Harper, Division 1, who holds court in Springdale, Johnson and Elm Springs; Graham Nations, Division 2, who holds court in Prairie Grove, Johnson, Farmington, Lincoln and Springdale and at the Washington County Detention Center; and Clinton "Casey" Jones, Division 3, who holds court in Greenland, West Fork, Elkins, Fayetteville and at the detention center.

District courts have jurisdiction over traffic violations, misdemeanor offenses, violations of state law and local ordinances, preliminary felony matters and civil matters involving contracts, damage to personal property and recovery of personal property where the amount in controversy doesn't exceed $25,000.

District judges are paid $147,000 a year. Terms are six years.

NW News on 11/24/2019

Print Headline: Field of candidates vying for circuit, district judicial posts

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