Disqualified judicial candidate to appeal ruling

LITTLE ROCK — A Little Rock lawyer who was disqualified from the May ballot for a past administrative suspension filed a notice Friday that she is appealing the decision.

Also Friday, the clerk of the Supreme Court filed a motion to stay a judge’s ruling that a Supreme Court rule requiring administrative suspensions of lawyers who fail to pay state license fees on time is unconstitutional.

Valerie Thompson Bailey is appealing a March 19 ruling by special appointed judge John Cole that she is not qualified to challenge the re-election bid of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox because of a past administrative suspension. Amendment 80 to the Arkansas Constitution requires a circuit judge to have been a licensed attorney in the state for at least six years immediately before taking office.

Bailey’s attorney, Sam Perroni, has argued that in fairness, either Fox and Bailey should both be on the ballot or they should both be disqualified.

Voter John Kelly, who filed the challenge to Fox’s qualifications and also is represented by Perroni, filed a notice of appeal earlier this week.

The ruling in Bailey’s case was followed by challenges to the qualifications of three other judicial candidates with past administrative suspensions, including Fox. Those three challenges were assigned to judges other than Cole, and all three were rejected.

In two of the cases, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin ruled that a Supreme Court rule requiring the automatic administrative suspension of a lawyer or judge who misses the annual deadline for paying his or her license fee is unconstitutional because it violates due-process and equal-protection rights.

Leslie Steen, the clerk of the Supreme Court, filed a motion Friday with the state Supreme Court for a stay of Griffen’s ruling regarding the Supreme Court rule while Kelly’s appeal is pending. The motion argues that irreparable harm would accrue if enforcement of the rule were suspended before the appeal is resolved.