State Appeals Court Judge Courtney Henry of Fayetteville, just elected last year to her seat, is telling friends that she's alreadly looking to move up. She's been telling close friends that she's running for Arkansas Supreme Court next year. A formal announcement won't come until at least May 18, a year in advance of the election and the date suggested by judicial ethics arbiters for the opening of formal campaigning
Henry, whose current job won't be on the ballot in 2010, will run for the seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Tom Glaze and now held by appointment by Justice Elana Wills. Wills cannot run for the seat. Circuit Judge John Fogleman of Marion has already told lawyers of his intention to run for the seat.
Contested Supreme Court races are rare. A match of regionally strong candidates would be interesting. Its prospect also might attract other candidates.
Church security has been a hot topic this year. The Arkansas legislature has wrangled over a bill to allow concealed weapons in churches. The debate was punctuated by the fatal Sunday shooting of an Illinois pastor.
The shooting prompted the Arkansas Baptist News to survey Arkansas Baptist churches security practices. It reported in a recent issue.
A four-man volunteer security team, including one police officer, patrols First Baptist of West Memphis on Sunday. They carry police radios and a police car is parked on site while the men canvass building and grounds.
At Danville First Baptist, deacons walk the halls during services to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. At Park Hill Baptist in Arkadelphia, exterior doors are locked after Sunday school, except for main entrances, and a deacon watches the entrance once the service has begun, cell phone at the ready in case help is needed.
At Geyer Springs First Baptist, uniformed police patrol parking lots and communicate with ushers by radio. An armed, plainclothes policeman is in all worship services, known only to a few church leaders. There's also a volunteer security team in place and, as in Arkadelphia, only main entrances are unlocked once Bible study and services have started. Ushers and greeters are said to “be trained to look for the unusual” — such as wearing a coat in warm weather, carrying a backpack, acting unusual or “someone that they do not know.”
Hard times all over
The Arkansas Times has been hit like nearly everyone else in the media by the tough economy. Publisher Alan Leveritt this week implemented temporary pay reductions of 4 to 7 percent for about a third of the 41 people who work on our various publications. Lower paid employees were exempt from the cut. The cuts, which take effect next month, were indexed to pay, with the largest in the best paid jobs. Recently, we also laid off a receptionist and converted a full-time job on El Latino, the Spanish language weekly, to part-time.
Of the nine nominees for three federal judgeships in Arkansas, Chip Welch of North Little Rock is the best known and possibly best qualified. He's been one of the state's top trial lawyers for years. Yet at least one well-informed source thinks he's a long shot to be appointed, because he arouses such strong opposition among defense lawyers. It's not just that Welch, a plaintiff's lawyer, tries and wins cases on the other side. Some years back, during a heated Arkansas Bar Association campaign, Welch distributed a letter to lawyers in which he said harsh things about the Friday law firm, then the state's largest. Those remarks are likely to be remembered, our source says, and the Friday firm has influence.
CORRECTION NOTED: As originally written, this article erroneously referred to the Wright firm, rather than the Friday firm, as the subject of Welch's letter. The mistaken reference will appear in the print edition and be corrected in a subsequent edition.