Citing a “significant health issue,” Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah announced his intent to resign from the state’s high court.
He issued the following statement:
“The people of Arkansas elected me to our state’s highest court in year 2000. I will be forever grateful. It is with great pride and pleasure that I have served on the Arkansas Supreme Court for over fourteen years, the last ten in the role of Chief Justice. In recent weeks I have been challenged by a significant health issue. Having the utmost respect for my job as Chief Justice and the business of the court, I have made a decision to tender my resignation effective at the end of August 31, 2015 to focus full-time on addressing my immediate health condition. There is no greater honor that a person can receive than to have another person place his or her trust and confidence in you. I want to thank the people of Arkansas who placed their trust and confidence in me and allowed me to serve them on their Arkansas Supreme Court. I sincerely appreciate the excellent staff that has worked with me. I have been privileged to work with some of the best district court judges, circuit court judges, appellate court judges, and justices in the country. I have also been privileged to work with our excellent Administrative Office of the Courts, it’s leadership and dedicated employees. Lastly, thank you to my wife Pat for her sacrifice and support.”
Early in his career, the Harrison High School and University of Arkansas School of Law served as a city attorney for Augusta, Bradford, Des Arc, Garner, Kensett, Rosebud and Searcy.
Hannah served as a city judge for Kensett and Rosebud and later served as a juvenile judge (from 1976 to 1978) and as a chancery/probate judge from 1979 to 1999 in the 17th Judicial District.
He was elected in 2001 as an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court and won a 2004 race to become Chief Justice, taking office in Jan. 2005.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson will appoint someone to replace Hannah, who was scheduled to be up for re-election in 2016 for an 8-year term. In a statement Thursday, Hutchinson complimented Hannah on his career.
“I spoke to the Chief Justice yesterday and received his official resignation earlier today. I thanked him for his extraordinary service to our state, while representing the finest of the legal tradition in his many years of public service,” Hutchinson said. “Even in his resignation, the Chief Justice has placed the courts and the people of Arkansas above his personal interests, and, while I recognize this is a tough decision for him to make, he made it for the right reasons and we are forever grateful for his dedication to the rule of law.”
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said late Thursday that Hannah’s career provides a strong standard to maintain.
“Chief Justice Jim Hannah is a highly respected attorney and judge,” Rutledge said in a statement. “Through his service as a prosecuting attorney, city attorney, juvenile judge, chancery and probate judge, justice and now chief justice, Jim Hannah has served the people of Arkansas with humility and wisdom. Chief Justice Hannah consistently provided a fair and impartial approach to any question or case brought before him, and his leadership of the Court will be greatly missed.”
The person, who is appointed, cannot run for the office, according to state law.
The Arkansas Supreme Court is scheduled to start its new session on Sept. 10 in Little Rock.