Arkansas High Court Rules Judicial Candidate Should Be on Ballot

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CN) – The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a state judicial candidate’s challenge to remain on the March primary ballot, overturning a lower court’s ruling finding him ineligible to run for office because of a 1994 misdemeanor conviction it found involved an “infamous crime.”

In a 6-1 opinion, justices on the state’s highest court found that Adam Weeks should appear on the March 3 primary ballot for the Third Judicial District position “and votes for him shall be counted.”

The ruling reversed Pulaski County Circuit Judge Christopher Piazza’s decision last month that found Week’s 1994 conviction for presenting fictitious vehicle tags when he was 18 years old involved an “infamous crime” making him ineligible to hold office. Piazza noted in his 5-page ruling that the outcome was “absurd” but said he was bound by the Arkansas Constitution.

In overturning that decision, the Arkansas Supreme Court said in its ruling Thursday that Weeks’ offense did not require a finding or admission of deceit, fraud, or false statement to constitute an “infamous crime.”

Weeks testified at a hearing in December that he was driving a vehicle from his parent’s used car lot with an extra dealer tag in September 1994 when he was pulled over and cited for driving with a fictitious tag, according to court documents. Weeks has since served on the city council in Conway, Arkansas, as a city attorney, and a district court judge in Lawrence County for the last five years.

The state’s highest court also ordered the Randolph county voter who filed the complaint seeking a writ of mandamus and declaratory judgment to pay Weeks $2,200 to cover costs in the appeal.

In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Dan Kemp rejected the majority’s findings, writing “a conviction is a conviction.”

“Weeks’s conviction should disqualify him from the ballot. To hold otherwise results in this court’s disparate treatment of judges and judicial candidates,” Kemp wrote.

Early voting in the state begins Tuesday and runs through March 2. The primary election is scheduled for March 3, also known as Super Tuesday, when the largest number of delegates are at stake for presidential candidates.

An attorney for the secretary of state’s office said in court documents that ballots for the primary election had been electronically coded and finalized last month with Weeks name on the ballots. Joe Grider and Timothy T. Watson Sr. are also running for the nonpartisan judicial spot.

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