Judge Griffen says critics, politicians are attacking his First Amendment rights

McKesson files motion to vacate Judge Griffen's temporary restraining order, dismiss case

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - After the Arkansas House of Representatives passed a resolution allowing for legislators to consider an impeachment, Judge Wendell Griffen has responded to what he says is an effort to impeach him.

The resolution was introduced Tuesday and was passed on Wednesday changed the House rules to consider impeachments. State Senator Trent Garner (R-El Dorado) has called Griffen's ruling on the McKesson case and his subsequent appearance outside the Governor's Mansion a "mockery of our judicial process." Garner thinks the judge should be removed from his duties due to what he calls "gross misconduct."

In response, Griffen wrote a post on his personal blog on the passing of the resolution to change House rules which he alleges is in relation to him. He began his post by quoting Frederick Douglass, a famous black abolitionist. The quote reads, "There is no Negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough to live up to their own Constitution."

"Now, as when Douglass made that statement," Griffen said, "there appears to be a huge gap between what some politicians claim to believe about freedom and their conduct."

Throughout the blog post, Griffen asserted that his critics are attacking his First Amendment right which gives citizens the right to free speech, freedom to express their religion, and the right to peacefully assemble. He claimed Arkansas legislators and other politicians are "outraged" because he decided to express his First Amendment rights at a Good Friday prayer vigil the same day he granted a temporary restraining order on the use of one execution drug.

"The First Amendment guarantees my freedom to be a follower of Jesus, whether politicians like how I follow Jesus or not," Griffen said. "The First Amendment guarantees my freedom to assemble peaceably with other persons, whether politicians approve of what I think."

Griffen said his critics took an oath to uphold and support the United States Constitution and that their actions should emulate the oath they took.

"We have no right to use our offices to punish or threaten people for exercising their right to disagree with us," Griffen said.

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission are currently investigating Griffen's conduct from April 14 to see if violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Griffen then filed his own ethic complaint against Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Arkansas Supreme Court. He said neither the court nor Rutledge gave him an opportunity to respond to the effort to disqualify him. The commission will look into that complaint at the same time as they look into Griffen's conduct.

House Speaker Jeremy Gilliam during the passing of the resolution said there aren't any plans to impeach Griffen. During the debate, several legislators disagreed strongly with the change. State Representative Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) said the commission investigating Griffen already has the authority to discipline him.

To read Griffen's full blog post, click here.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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