Judge Denies Being Abusive Toward Representatives Of Arkansas AG's Office

Sep 24, 2019

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen denied during a hearing Tuesday that he treats representatives of the Arkansas Attorney General's office differently than other attorneys appearing in his courtroom.
Credit PBS

A hearing was held Tuesday to consider a request by Arkansas's attorney general that a judge not be allowed to hear cases involving her office. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen responded by playing an audio recording of a Sept. 13th hearing after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge alleged he displayed inappropriate behavior toward a member of her staff.

Rutledge is asking that Griffen be barred from hearing cases involving her office. In an appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court, she called the hearing earlier this month an example of abusive conduct by Griffen toward the attorney general’s office.

The case, involving Carpenter Farms Medical Group and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission was heard by Griffen.

During the hearing, Griffen repeatedly interrupted Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Merritt. At one point, Merritt is heard saying to Griffen, "Every time I go to answer your question, Your Honor, you don’t let me finish."

Griffen told her until she answered his questions, he would continue to interrupt her.

Rutledge claims Griffen acted unprofessionally towards Merrit. The state Supreme Court rejected a request for an expedited appeal and has not issued a ruling.

In this latest hearing, Griffen said he does not have any animosity towards the Attorney General or her staff. He also said he would not change anything about his approach to attorneys or delivery.

Griffen’s attorney Austin Porter said Griffen did not act inappropriately. He also said Griffen was following the law when he denied the state’s motion to dismiss the medical marijuana case. Griffen said he would have handled any other attorney equally, arguing, "It’s called treating everybody the same. That’s not being abusive. That’s being fair."