by Max Brantley
Chief Justice Jim Hannah said this morning in Hot Springs that Gov. Mike Beebe wouldn't support making state trial court assistants state employees as a means of solving a problem caused by a decline in the dedicated court revenues meant to pay their salaries. This could be done legislatively, but it would be a hard fight without Beebe's support.
Hannah spoke at the Judicial Council meeting. Beebe has provided some emergency money and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel diverted money from court settlements to meet paychecks for the 120 assistants, who handle scheduling and other duties for the state's circuit judges. In remarks this morning, Hannah didn't characterize Beebe's response beyond a no. Reports have been circulating that Beebe laughed at the idea. It's believable, even understandable, given the political hay Republicans are attempting to make about state payroll growth.
My wife is a circuit judge and her staff includes a trial court assistant so I'll leave it at the bare bones of what I heard from others.