• September 24, 2023

Little Rock traffic judge Fleming announces retirement after 28 years

Vic Fleming, Little Rock’s longtime traffic judge, said Friday that he’ll retire at the end of his term next year, 28 years after he was first elected.

Announcing his decision to his staff on Friday, Fleming credited them for the success he’s enjoyed in the position. His term ends in December 2024.

“I first want to thank all of you, and the dozens who went before you, for doing a great job in the positions that make up the heart of this court,” he said. “I often introduce a staff member as ‘someone who does the hard work for which I get the credit.’ I mean that. You are the ones who have made the court what it has been the past 26 years.”

Fleming beat three other candidates to take over the post in 1996. In his retirement announcement, Fleming said that all of the candidates that year ran on the promise of restoring integrity to traffic court. He won that race by 83 votes.

“I said that, if elected, and fortunate enough to get re-elected, I would stick around for 20 years,” Fleming stated in his retirement announcement. “No one has been reminding me that I’ve overstayed that projection. But you don’t have to be a math professor to know that, at the end of next year, I will have been serving in this position for 28 years. I like being able to leave a position knowing it’s in better shape than when [I started].”

Two candidates have announced plans to run for the position — Herb Wright, a Pulaski County circuit judge, and attorney Robert Tellez, who runs his own law firm. Judicial races are nonpartisan, but they will be held simultaneously with the March 2024 political primaries.

Fleming, who’s only drawn one opponent since his first election, said he estimates he’s presided over 400,000 traffic court proceedings during his tenure. He also estimates he’s presided over another 3,000 circuit-court cases that have been added to his position, now labeled a state district judge, since 2017.

“My goal has been to be fair and equitable in all” of those cases, he said. “Administering justice calls for a patient and respectful approach to each case. I believe I have achieved that. I shall continue to do so for another 21 months.

“I thank the voters who put their confidence in me during these seven terms in office. I hope the public’s desire to have a fair and honest judge has been matched by my desire to dispense justice fairly and equitably. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have served our community in this way.”

Fleming’s predecessor on the bench was Bill Watt, who resigned after 10 years as traffic judge when he was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Whitewater trial of former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and James and Susan McDougal. During Watt’s testimony in that case, he admitted to telling an appraiser to inflate a property value, to falsifying a signature on a document and to misapplying a loan in the mid-1980s before becoming a judge.

Watt was granted immunity from prosecution in return for cooperating with Whitewater investigators.

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