The races for Little Rock traffic court judge and a state Court of Appeals judge representing the capital city have just become contested with announcements from two new candidates.
Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge Herb Wright said he will run for traffic court after 14 years on the circuit bench that encompasses Perry and Pulaski counties. Little Rock attorney Pam Hathaway, a lawyer for 30 years, said she’ll seek the appellate court judgeship coming open with next year’s retirement of Rita Gruber.
Judicial election season began two weeks ago, with the elections timed to coincide with the state’s political primaries. Fundraising won’t start until September, six months before the election.
Wright has held a similar position, serving as Wrightsville District judge, before being elected to the circuit bench in 2008. Vic Fleming, the traffic court judge since 1997, has not said whether he will run for another four-year term. Little Rock attorney Robert Tellez has also declared his intention to seek the post.
Wright of North Little Rock said he is interested in traffic court because of the potential to increase the court’s efficiency, which has been his priority as a circuit judge
“Little Rock Traffic Court is where most Arkansans are likely to have contact with the legal system and with my 19 years of experience, I believe I can bring improvements to this system,” Wright said. “I have worked hard as a judge … to streamline the experience so that litigants can resolve their cases fast and efficiently. My goal is to make Little Rock Traffic Court more user-friendly to the public, better utilize court resources, and keep officers serving the public instead of waiting in the courtroom.”
A married father of one, Wright, 60, has held leadership positions on the Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence; Arkansas Capital Resource Center; Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation; Center for Arkansas Legal Services; Central Arkansas Ducks Unlimited Committee; and Rotary Club 99. He is also the past president of the Arkansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Pulaski County Bar Association.
Hathaway, 55, said she has worked on thousands of appeals during her career. But she will also bring diverse experience to the District 6, Position 1, appeals judgeship, the married mother of two said.
“My 30 years of diverse legal work as an Arkansas attorney has prepared me for this judgeship. I have been an attorney at the Friday, Eldredge, and Clark Law Firm, a solo practitioner, and a law clerk to five judges on the Arkansas Supreme Court and Arkansas Court of Appeals,” she said in her announcement. “I understand the importance of hard work and perseverance. I put myself through college and law school. I faced and defeated breast cancer, and I was humbled to be named Komen Arkansas’s 2013 Honorary Survivor. “
Hathaway’s professional memberships include the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers, and the Judge William Overton American Inn of Court. Other community activities include Rotary Club 99, Komen Arkansas, the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, and the Board for the Home for Healing.
Hathaway’s candidacy brings her into competition with a former classmate, Molly McNulty, who said last week she will run for the post. Both women were part of the inaugural class of the Public Service Academy at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.