by Max Brantley
Gov. Mike Beebe has appointed Ron Sheffield to the Arkansas Supreme Court to replace Bill Bowen, who resigned this week after only one week on the bench because of a minor stroke.
Sheffield, 64, a former deputy state insurance commissioner, has served as a special justice on the Supreme Court.
The governor's news release doesn't say so, but Sheffield is black. When Beebe appointed Bowen, 86, to the seat earlier, he was criticized by former Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen for failing to appoint a black to the all-white court. Beebe had said then that he'd first asked several black lawyers to take the job, but had been turned down.
Sheffield is to serve a year to complete the term of Justice Annabelle Imber, who retired.
Governor Mike Beebe has named Ron Sheffield of Little Rock to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
"Ron Sheffield has the knowledge and experience with the Supreme Court to hit the ground running," Governor Beebe said. "The unique circumstances of this appointment mean shouldering a significant caseload immediately, and Ron is well-qualified to accomplish this with the skill and honor befitting our Supreme Court."
Sheffield, 64, recently completed an appointment from Governor Beebe as a Special Associate Justice to the Supreme Court for an individual case. He worked 27 years with the Arkansas Insurance Department, including seven years as Deputy Insurance Commissioner. In 1999, Sheffield became redistricting director for the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office. While remaining in private practice in recent years, Sheffield also has taught as an adjunct professor at Pulaski Technical College.
The appointment, effective immediately, will fill one year of the unexpired term of Justice Annabelle Clinton Imber, who announced her retirement this past September. A special election this year will determine who serves the remainder of Imber's term, which ends in 2014.