by Max Brantley
The Democrat-Gazette and others followed up at some length today on the news we first reported Wednesday afternoon that ousted Judge Willard Proctor hadn't given up on trying to get back on the bench. He's filed as a write-in and sued to challenge the law that prevents ousted judges from running again.
Proctor says there's a line of cases that says it is unconstitutional for the legislature to add conditions -- such as barring ousted judges -- for holding office.
One additional factor to consider: In the Arkansas Supreme Court decision upholding Proctor's removal, the court cited the very statute Proctor is challenging to remove him (it provides for both removal of a judge for violations and a future bar to service). Removal from the bench is clearly constitutional, being allowed by Amendment 66, which establishes a judicial discipline procedure. That amendment would seem to give the legislature some leeway on judges:
Grounds for suspension, leave, or removal from office shall be determined by legislative enactment.
PS -- One other thought. If Proctor is successful with his suit, it will make toothless the Judicial Discipline Commission. And it will call into question a number of resignation agreements it has reached previously with disciplined judges who might now argue they are free to run again.