Talk is picking up that retired banker Bill Bowen, 86, is in line to be tapped by Gov. Mike Beebe to serve in place of retiring Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Clinton Imber until election of her successor next year. Bowen's legal, business and political resume is lengthy and distinguished.
A historian will have to determine if he'd be the oldest member of the court. (The late Justice George Rose Smith, who retired in 1987 after 38 years on the bench, was a mere pup of 76 when he stepped down.)
UPDATE: It's done, effective Jan. 1. The governor's release:
LITTLE ROCK - Governor Mike Beebe has named Bill Bowen of Little Rock to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
"There is no questioning Bill Bowen's integrity, knowledge and experience," Governor Beebe said. "Along with his inability to remain retired, Arkansas again has the chance to benefit from Bill's willingness to serve. He is truly an Arkansas institution."
A World War II Navy veteran, Bowen, 86, started his legal career as a tax attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the 1950s. He returned to Arkansas and spent 17 years in private practice before entering the banking world, where he found success for the next 20 years. Governor Bill Clinton asked Bowen to become his Chief of Staff in 1991, a position he held until Clinton left to become President. In 1995, Bowen was named Dean of the UALR School of Law, and the school was named in his honor five years later.
The appointment, effective January 1, will fill one year of the unexpired term of Justice Annabelle Clinton Imber, who announced her retirement in September. A special election next year will determine who serves the remainder of Imber's term, which ends in 2014.