Wendell Griffen Won’t Run in 2022

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge who was prohibited from hearing death penalty related cases after he demonstrated against executions said Monday he won’t seek reelection next year.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said he planned to retire when his term on the bench expires Dec. 31, 2022. Griffen was first elected to the seat in 2010 and reelected for another six-year term in 2016.

“I look forward in retirement to devoting more time and energy writing, lecturing and discoursing about social justice and public theology,” he said in a statement. 

The state Supreme Court prohibited Griffen from handling execution-related cases in April 2017 after he was photographed participating in an anti-death penalty demonstration outside the governor’s mansion the same day he blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug. A federal court in 2018 dismissed a lawsuit by Griffen claiming the disqualification violated his constitutional rights.

Griffen was appointed to the state Court of Appeals in 1995 and he was elected to a full eight-year term in 2000. He lost reelection in 2008. 

As an appeals judge, Griffen battled with a judicial disciplinary panel over remarks he made criticizing former President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. The panel ultimately dropped its case against him.

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