Fort Smith judge picked by Gov. Hutchinson to hear Issue 1 lawsuit

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,103 views 

After the recusal by Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has picked a replacement to hear a lawsuit appeal involving Issue 1, the tort reform amendment proposal.

Hutchinson named Judge Stephen Tabor, the Division 1 Circuit Judge for the 12th Judicial Circuit, a position he’s held since 2008. Tabor will join the court to hear the case for CV-18-749 Hon. Mark Martin v. Marion Humphrey et al.

Earlier this month, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce ruled Issue 1 was unconstitutional. The measure would:

•  Cap contingency fees in civil actions at 33 1/3 of the recovery;
•  Cap punitive damages at $500,000 or 3 times the amount of the compensatory damages, whichever is greater;
•  Cap non-economic damages at $500,000; and,
•  Allow the legislature to adopt rules of pleading, practice, and procedure.

Pierce ruled the four sections of the proposal are not sufficiently related, writing the plaintiff, former Pulaski County Circuit Judge Marion Humphrey, “has clearly demonstrated Issue No. 1 fails to meet the single-subject test of Forrester, id. Plaintiff has clearly demonstrated the four parts of lssue No. 1 are not reasonably germane to each other nor are those four parts reasonably germane to the subject (whatever that subject may be) of the amendment. lf the subject of the amendment is judicial power, the four parts do not relate to judicial power nor are they reasonably germane to each other. If the subject of the amendment is the courts and the judiciary, the four parts of the amendment do not relate to the courts and the judiciary nor are they reasonably germane to each other. The Arkansas General Assembly in proposing and passing lssue No. 1 has engaged in impermissible logrolling.”

Judge Pierce also ordered Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin “to refrain from counting, canvassing, or certifying any votes for or against Issue No. 1.” Supporters of the amendment appealed Pierce’s ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Before Kemp recused, he previously testified to the state legislature in opposition to a portion of Issue 1 that dealt with that branch overseeing judicial rule making.