The two candidates for the only vacant position on the Arkansas Supreme Court each touted their own qualifications Thursday while agreeing that whoever wins the race will do a good job.
Attorney Tim Cullen, who practices in Little Rock and lives in Maumelle, and Appeals Court Judge Robin Wynne of Fordyce spoke to the West Pine Bluff Rotary club at the Pine Bluff Country Club.
“The justice building is chock-full of good judges but they don’t have anybody who has recently practiced law,” said Cullen, who spoke first.
He said he has been in private practice for 17 years and “has been the lead attorney for over 15o appeals,” covering a variety of different kinds of cases.
“A lot of other lawyers send their appeal work to me because of my broad experience,” Cullen said, adding that among the cases, he has handled appeals in eight capital-murder cases.
He said “certain judges have given the judiciary a black eye and a bad name.
“Ask other people and do the research,” Cullen said. “Whoever wins this race will serve the state well.”
Wynne, who was elected to the Arkansas Court of Appeals in 2010, said that before his election, he practiced law in Fordyce for 30 years, was a district judge, prosecutor, deputy prosecutor, and served two terms in the Arkansas General Assembly.
“I’ve written the opinions in 190 cases in four years,” Wynne said about his time on the court of appeals. “I’ve run twice unopposed and as a candidate for the supreme court, win or lose I will be on the court of appeals.”
He said that as an appeals court judge, “We don’t make the law. We interpret the law.”
In addition to his work as a judge and attorney, Wynne said he served as law minister at the Redfield Methodist Church for 16 months.
Questioned about whether he would favor term limits because of his statement that there are no current judges who were recently involved in the practice of law, Cullen cited the federal court system where judges are appointed for life as a way to remove them from politics.
“I’m nor sure term limits would make sense for judges,” Cullen said, explaining that while members of the Legislature and others face political pressure about their decisions, judges don’t experience that as much.
Wynne said that in a sense, there are term limits for judges because a person who reaches age 70 cannot start a term after that.
Asked about Amendment 80, which changed judicial races from partisan to non-partisan, Wynne said “I like it,” while Cullen also said he thinks it’s a good idea to “run non-political.”
Both agreed that running as judicial candidates can be difficult because they are limited in what they can say and talk about.
Cullen and Wynne are seeking the seat currently held by Supreme Court Associate Justice Donald Corbin, who is retiring.