Thursday, May 22, 2008

Arkansas Judge Voted Off for Free Speech and Social Justice

The third-highest ranking member of the Arkansas Court of Appeals who fought for the right to criticize President George W. Bush and the Iraq war lost his bid for reelection on Tuesday, CR reports.

Wendell Griffen, a Baptist minister who joined the state's second-highest court in 1996, lost decisively to a juvenile court judge. His opponent did not discuss Griffen's comments during the campaign but credited them in part for her victory.

"I think it's fair to say that there were a lot of people in the community who were disappointed with the statements he's made over the years," Judge Rita Gruber said.
As a staunch advocate for social justice, Griffen had also publicly rejected the "idea that incarceration cures crimes" in a recent interview.

"If I told you that I could cure cancer or AIDS, you would pay attention," Wendell Griffen...said in an e-mail interview with

"If I then said that my cure consists of building more cemeteries and hiring more morticians, you would certainly reject my suggested cure."


"Building more jails and prisons and hiring more jailers and prison guards is to solving crime as building cemeteries and hiring morticians is to curing cancer or AIDS," he said.

Hmmm, guess it's statements like that Gruber found so offensive. Howling Latina can't believe that judges in some states have to run for election. Hell, this guy shouldn't of been voted off the island; after eight long years of Bush idiocy and misery, he should've been awarded the medal of freedom or something

Of course, Griffen is African-American and race may have had a little something-something to do with the whole sordid affair.

You see, back in 2002, "[t]he Arkansas Judicial Discipine and Disability Commission sought sanctions against Griffen...after he criticized the University of Arkansas' racial diversity in the wake of the firing of [a]popular basketball coach."

Griffen also sparked controversy after decrying the federal government's callously inept response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Fortunately, the ethics panel eventually "dismissed charges that he [had] violated judicial rules by speaking out on political issues." Griffen had the pesky constitution on his side.

"In defending his right to speak freely, Griffen relied mainly on a U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down Minnesota's limits on free speech rights for judges. Arkansas' court rules were similar to Minnesota's. "
After the wrongful conviction in Alabama of Don Siegelman and the politicizing of justice under Gonzo, the entire justice system really needs to be revamped from the ground up; it stinks to high heaven and hell and back.

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