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Karren resigns from judicial leadership position

by Tracy Neal | May 13, 2021 at 12:05 p.m.
Davy Carter (left), a former Arkansas House speaker, and Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren are shown in this undated composite photo.

BENTONVILLE -- Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren resigned Wednesday as administrative judge, nearly two weeks after getting into a dispute with a former state legislator over a parking spot.

"In response to recent events Judge Brad Karren notified Chief Justice Dan Kemp of his resignation as administrative judge," Benton County Circuit Judge Tom Smith said Thursday.

Smith was selected to replace Karren as administrative judge when the circuit judges met Wednesday, he said.

Smith said the resignation was Karren's decision and he was not forced to resign. Karren remains a circuit judge, a position he's held since 2013. He began a new six-year term in January.

Karren was selected in January to serve as the administrative judge for Benton County's seven circuit judges. The administrative judge is an unpaid leadership position, but has no authority over the other judges, Smith said.

The administrative judge is strongly involved in developing the circuit's caseload plan that must be approved by the Arkansas Supreme Court every two years. The position also involves acting as a liaison with the Supreme Court for the local judiciary.

Davy Carter, who served as speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2013 to 2015, posted on Twitter his account of the incident his family had with Karren in a downtown parking lot behind the judge's courtroom.

Carter tweeted he and his wife had dinner the night of April 30 at The Hive restaurant in the 21c Museum Hotel. They called their son, a student at the University of Arkansas, to join them.

Carter's son arrived a little after 7 p.m. and parked in the lot between the hotel and the courtroom at 200 N.E. A St. The lot serves as parking for Karren, his staff and county employees.

A sign at the lot entrance states "Benton County employee parking only, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m." However, a sign in front of the spot where Carter's son parked states, "Reserved parking 24/7 violators towed."

Carter's son and wife left the restaurant about 30 seconds before he did, according to Carter. He said he walked out and found an angry Karren berating his wife and son.

Carter said on Twitter he intervened and cursed at Karren. Carter posted on Twitter a brief video of the encounter. The video shows Karren, who was armed with a gun, throwing his cane to the ground as he faced Carter.

David J. Sachar, executive director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, saw Carter's tweets and filed a complaint against Karren.

This story was originally published at 11:45 a.m.

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