Sen. Garner calls for impeachment of Judge Griffen, House votes to amend rules

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - During the special legislative session, House Speaker Jeremy Gilliam introduced a resolution which would amend House of Representative rules to consider an impeachment by the House. The resolution passed on Wednesday, which means an impeachment process could begin for Judge Wendell Griffen.

This resolution comes a day after State Senator Trent Garner (R-El Dorado) released a statement asking for the House to call for an impeachment of Griffen. The Pulaski County Circuit judge has come under fire from several Arkansas legislators after joining an anti-death penalty the same day he issued a temporary restraining order on the use of one execution drug. At the time, the ruling effectively blocked the scheduled executions of seven men.

Garner said that Griffen made a "mockery of our judicial process" during a time when the world was watching the state's plan to move forward with the executions. Garner thinks the judge should be removed "because of his gross misconduct."

Judge Griffen, in response to being removed from death penalty cases and an investigation into whether he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, has asked for an investigation of his own. Griffen accused Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and the Arkansas Supreme Court of violating ethic rules. He claimed that neither Rutledge nor the court allowed him to respond to the removal from the death penalty cases.

Griffen said the prayer vigil he attended on Good Friday was planned long before he was given the McKesson case. Lawyers representing Griffen argued that Griffen was expressing his right to free speech and religious rights. Attorney Mike Laux said Griffen was allowed to attend the vigil both as a private citizen and a judge.

While special sessions are generally meant to focus on the items set forth by the governor, the legislature can expand the session to cover more issues. 

The House passed the resolution by a vote of 73-13 to allow the amendment of the rules on Wednesday.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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