Van Buren City Attorney Candice Settle and Crawford County Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell are running for circuit judge positions in Crawford County. Settle has announced she will run for the Division III seat, a new position in Crawford County.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Marc McCune as interim judge in Division III to serve until Dec. 31, 2020. Settle said on her Facebook page she did not seek appointment to the position when it was created because the person appointed interim judge for the position cannot run the run for the position in the March 3, 2020 election.
“I have the experience, qualifications, and background that Crawford County needs for judge. I have been a prosecutor, have tried civil and bench trials in federal and state court, have been a city attorney for many years, have sat in as judge in numerous cases in Crawford and Sebastian County, and have taught law at the (University of Arkansas at Fort Smith),” Settle said her announcement.
Settle has more than 20 years of experience in the legal field in Crawford County, having served as city prosecuting attorney, deputy public defender and city attorney for Van Buren for more than 16 years. She has a private practice with Settle & Jernigan, PLLC with attorney Carrie Jernigan. The firm specializes in employment law, civil and criminal litigation, probate, business, personal injury and domestic relations law.
Settle, the daughter of Mary Cabaniss and the late George Cabaniss, who retired as sergeant from the Van Buren Police Department, is a graduate of Van Buren High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas and a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law.
“My father, George Cabaniss, instilled in me the ideal of being the ethical professional. I will bring that integrity and character to the bench to ensure justice for every Crawford County citizen,” Settle said.
Settle is a founding member of the Kiwanis Club of Van Buren, past board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren and Summit Hospital, former Cub Scout leader for the Boy Scouts and a graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Crawford County in 2000. She is the president of the Van Buren School District Board of Education and a member of the Women’s League of Van Buren, and Keep Van Buren Beautiful. She established the George Cabaniss Memorial Scholarship at the Van Buren School District in honor of her father.
Settle is married to Aaron Beshears, a former detective with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department and the training and recruiting manager for the Major League Fishing television show. The couple has two children.
Cottrell has been the circuit judge for the 21st Judicial District in Van Buren for 21 years. He has been the Division I circuit judge, the position he seeks in reelection, for the past 17 years. Prior to that he served as a municipal judge in Crawford County for 13 years.
During his tenure as circuit judge he initiated CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program for the 21st Judicial District. He was named the Arkansas Judge of the Year by CASA in 2001.
“(I) initiated first appearances for criminal defendants, wherein before they may not see a judge for long periods; initiated use of mediation in all contested cases, for early resolution of critical and important issues; (had an) abundant use of attorney ad litems to represent children in custody cases, giving them a concerted voice in the process; (and) managed, along with Judge (Mike) Medlock (Division II circuit judge), the largest dockets, per capita, in the state for over 10 years,” Cottrell said in an announcement statement posted July 19.
Cottrell also advocated for creating the third judge position in the 21st Judicial District. He also administered the 21st Judicial District Drug Court for 17 years. He also initiated pre-trial scheduling conferences “so as to give the parties” early access to the court” and was the first to use cameras in a county office, his announcement said.
Over the years, he said, he has delivered “consistent decision making in contested case, leading to better assistance to attorneys in giving clients advice as to proceedings.”
Filing period for circuit judge positions for candidates filing by petition is noon Sept. 12 to noon Sept. 17.