Fifth Division Circuit Judge Jodi Dennis will face attorney Luther Sutter in the non-partisan judicial general election May 20.
Dennis became the first female Circuit Judge in Jefferson County when she was sworn in in 2004 and was appointed to the bench to replace the late Judge H.A. Taylor as Second Division Circuit Judge. In 2006, she was elected to the Fifth Division after the State Supreme Court affirmed a decision by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox that Act 1448 of 2005 was unconstitutional because it added qualifications for judges other than those in the state constitution.
She was prohibited by law from running for the position she had been appointed to, but after the Supreme Court ruling, she swapped positions with then-Fifth Division Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr., who had been appointed to replace former judge Fred D. Davis Jr. Wyatt is now Second Division Circuit Judge.
At a candidate forum on April 22, Dennis said she was “the best candidate and I believe that part of my reason for that is my perspective. I have been both a deputy prosecuting attorney and assistant public defender. As a judge, I listen to the presentation of facts and I follow the law.”
She also said she had been a resident of Jefferson County for 30 years.
Sutter, whose law practice is in Benton, said at the same forum he entered the race against Dennis because she disqualified him from a case five years ago.
“I believe I can do a better job than Judge Dennis,” he said.
Sutter, who is the attorney for the Pine Bluff School District, also said he had moved to Jefferson County a short time before filing for the office.
“I believe in the jury system and I believe that we need compassionate judges,” Sutter said. “I will be a very compassionate judge.”