Newly appointed Fort Smith District Court Judge Sam Terry announced Wednesday (July 17) he is running for the Sebastian County Circuit Court, Division VII race. He will face Fort Smith attorney Dianna Hewitt Ladd in the election set for March 3, 2020.
Terry, 39, was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to fill out the remaining 18 months of retired Judge Ben Beland’s post. He was sworn in July 1. The court’s primary function is a misdemeanor court for the city and the state, with cases handled including DWI, domestic battery, public intoxication, and speeding tickets.
The law does not allow Terry to run for re-election to his newly appointed post.
Prior to his appointment, Terry was an attorney and trust officer at First National Bank of Fort Smith trust department. Before that he worked as an attorney, full time deputy prosecuting attorney in Sebastian County, and as a law clerk to United States District Judge P.K. Holmes III. He served on the Sebastian County Board of Election Commissioners since January 2017, but had to resign to accept the judicial appointment. The Sebastian County Republican Party will select Terry’s replacement on the election commission.
The Circuit Court has jurisdiction over felony criminal cases, civil jury trials, probate matters, and juvenile court.
Following are other announcements for regional judicial posts.
• Former Republican Arkansas Senator and Representative Gunner DeLay is running for the Sebastian County Circuit Court Division V now held by retiring Judge J. Michael Fitzhugh. No other candidate has announced for division V race set for March 3, 2020.
• Fort Smith attorney Greg Magness is running for the Division VI, Sebastian County Circuit Court bench now held by Judge James Cox, who is retiring. Magness will face Fort Smith attorney Phil Milligan and Sebastian County Deputy Public Defender Rita Howard Watkins for the judicial job in the March 2020 election. Magness will not seek re-election to his Fort Smith School Board post.
• Deputy Public Defender Wendy Sharum announced May 13 her candidacy for Fort Smith District Court, Division II, for the election also set for March 2020.
• Dianna Hewitt Ladd and Judge Jim O’Hern announced May 8 their bids for election and re-election, respectively, for judicial posts. Ladd is running for the newly created Sebastian County Judge post, and O’Hern seeks re-election to position one of the Fort Smith District Court.
• Administrative Law Judge Amy Grimes on April 30 announced her candidacy for the position O’Hern holds.