Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen
FREE SPEECH: Wendell Griffen says his participation in his event didn't merit judicial punishment.
said today that he'd belatedly learned Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office
HAD sent e-mail
notice to him of its request to disqualify him from a case over lethal injection drugs so he's asked to withdraw ethics complaints he'd filed against employees in that office. He sent a letter of apology.
He said he'd found the notice in his office e-mail, sent Saturday, April 15, this week. He filed his complaint about failure to receive notice on April 26.
Griffen still has a complaint pending against the Arkansas Supreme Court for its action in removing him from all cases related to the death penalty and referring his conduct to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.
Griffen was removed from a case filed by a drug supplier attempting to block use
of its drug in Arkansas executions. It contended the state had used deception to obtain the drug for a use for which it isn't intended to be sold. Griffen enjoined the state from using the drug. The state filed an emergency appeal, which the Supreme Court granted and also issued the order about Griffen because he'd been present at demonstrations against the death penalty the day he made the ruling. At an event at the Governor's Mansion, he lay on a cot, which many observers took as a depiction of an inmate awaiting execution. He said it was a Good Friday depiction of Jesus's' crucifixion.
Griffen submitted an argument defending his actions in the drug case in a supplemental argument submitted to the Judicial Commission. It said in part:
The gravamen of the Commission's complaint is the allegation that, because of Judge Griffen's personal religious and moral views on the death penalty, he cannot rule impartially in death penalty cases. However, in the only death penalty case to come before Judge Griffen in recent months, Judge Griffen dismissed nine death row inmates' complaint challenging the constitutionality of their method of execution and denied the inmates' request for leave to amend, thereby allowing the executions to go forward.
He said the complaint filed against him was "nothing other than an attempt to intimidate and punish" Griffen for free speech. He said he had committed no act that violated the code of judicial conduct.
Here's his full response to the complaint against him to the judicial ethics agency.
Here's the letter withdrawing a complaint against the attorney general and apologizing.
UPDATE: Griffen has written further about the events on his blog.