Gov. Asa Hutchinson
has named Barbara Womack Webb,
currently chief executive officer
of the Workers Compensation Commission and wife of state Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb
, to a circuit judge vacancy in Saline County.
take the judgeship vacated by Bobby D. McCallister,
who faces state charges for failure to file income tax returns and resigned from the bench amid an ethics investigation. He is to resign Dec. 15.
Hutchinson said Webb will be the first woman to hold a circuit judgeship in Saline County. She'll serve through Dec. 31, 2018
and can't run for the office. A lawyer since 1982, she is
a former prosecuting attorney and administrative law judge at Workers Compensation Commission. Her experience also includes private practice law and a stint as a laywer
for Southwestern Bell Telephone. She made about $127,000 as head of workers comp. Circuit judges make $163,200.
Barbara Webb's sister, Becky Keogh
, was appointed by Hutchinson to head the Department of Environmental Quality. Her job pays $130,000.
UPDATE: Some blowback from Saline County on Webb's appointment. While prosecutor
, she dropped the ball on sentencing for a convicted child rapist, which led to the Supreme Court's reversal of his conviction and 12-year sentence. Her office lost track of Michael Shane Jolly's case after a guilty plea in 1997. He served a year before the Supreme Court set him free. The case turned on whether sentencing, as well as trial, were part of speedy trial guarantees. A majority decided it was. A dissent from Chief Justice Betty Dickey and Justice Jim Hannah disagreed. Their dissent noted Jolly was arrested six more times during the more than five years that elapsed
before a new prosecutor discovered the case had been overlooked at won a 12-year sentence. They wrote:
Not only did Jolly suffer an injury by the State's negligence, but the credibility and integrity of the courts suffered injury as well. By the time Jolly was sentenced for his crime, his victim was about to graduate from high school. She was in elementary school when the crime was committed. The State has a duty to see that justice is timely completed to allow victims to get on with life and to retain the confidence of the public in the judicial system. Letting
cases fall through the cracks so that rapists are not sentence for almost six years does not instill confidence in the judicial system. It is also doubtless that the attention given this case in the media was hardly comforting to the victim who is now an adult.