The Honorable Chris E Williams, currently Circuit Judge of the Seventh Judicial District has finished a 12-year appointment for service as Chairperson on the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.
Judge Williams was appointed by the Supreme Court of Arkansas in July of 2001 for his first six-year appointment and reappointed for a second six-year term beginning July of 2007.
In July of 2012, Judge Williams was elected chairperson of the commission and the JDDC is grateful for his dedicated years of service to the judiciary of the State of Arkansas.
On May 17, Judge Williams was honored by Governor Mike Beebe for his years of service with a presentation by Arkansas State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah from Governor Beebe recognizing, “Judge Williams as an outstanding citizen of the State of Arkansas having shown to the people of Arkansas an outstanding interest in public services to this State.”
Court of Appeals Associate Judge District 04, Position 02, Mac Glover, a Malvern native, commended Judge Williams for his commitment to the commission.
“For 11 years, Judge Williams was a conscientious member and resourceful chair of the Arkansas Judicial and Disciplinary Commission.
The commission is charged with superintending the conduct and well being of all judges in Arkansas.
As you would expect, Judge Williams committed considerable time and talent to the commission’s task,” said Glover.
Another area lawyer that has became selected by the JDDC is Poyen native, attorney Emily White who has recently been acquired as the Deputy Executive Director to David J. Sachar, executive director of the JDDC.
“As a native of Grant County, growing up in Poyen, Judge Williams’ reputation among the community was of integrity and diligence and is a goal I personally strive to acquire in my practice. The robe is a magnifier of conduct and Judge Williams is an exemplar of decorum and dignity that all attorneys should respect and model,” said White.
White has practiced with the Law Offices of Gary Green and was the former Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the 6th and 22nd districts of Pulaski County.
She began her service with JDDC February 1, 2013 and still resides in Poyen.
Judge Williams will officially end his appointed service on June 30, 2013.
The commission’s jurisdiction extends to about 400 judges, including the justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, circuit court judges, and full and part-time judges of the district courts, city courts, and police courts, as well as retired judges who serve as special judges. Also included are those officers of the judicial system performing judicial functions, such as referee, special master, court commissioner and magistrate whether full-time or part-time.
“We did a lot of good, keeping the checks and balances between elected judges who didn’t do what they should. We are the only ones who could help litigants against bad judges,” said Judge Williams.
Justice is a circumstance that only manifests through peace, therefore chaos brings about injustice. To be judged by our peers in a court of law is a secure provision that keeps us distanced from conflicted or influenced judges.
Judges are never above the law and must be checked in their performance to safeguard an imbalance of power. A power bestowed upon them by the people they are set over to judge.
“When people come before judges they must be assured of the integrity of the court, they must have full-faith in what the judge decides, without that there is chaos,” said Judge Williams.
During the 12 years served by Judge Williams on the JDDC, 17 justices have been removed either voluntarily through resignation after investigation or involuntarily through charges and indictment.
Judge Williams added that the JDDC was needed so as to allow the public or other interested parties an accessible outlet to register complaints.
Amendment 66 to the Constitution of the State of Arkansas brought about the JDDC to receive, initiate and investigate complaints concerning misconduct of all judges or the removal due to incapacitation from mental or physical disability.
Grounds for sanctions imposed by the Commission or recommendations made by the Commission shall be violations of the professional and ethical standards governing judicial officers, conviction of a felony, or physical or mental disability that prevents the proper performance of judicial duties.
Grounds for suspension, leave, or removal from office shall be determined by legislative enactment.
To cover all interests the panel consists of nine members from judges to laymen: Three justices or judges appointed by the Supreme Court; three licensed attorneys in good standing who are not justices or judges, one appointed by the Attorney General, one by the President of the Senate, and one by the Speaker of the House; and three members appointed by the Governor. The members appointed by the Governor shall not be justices or judges, retired justices of judges or attorneys.
“The JDDC maintains the dignity of the courts, we are the only body that can make that decision,” said Judge Williams.
Western law finds its heritage in the Old Testament, Ancient Greece, the New Testament, the Magna Carte of 1215 founding of the New World, the Mayflower Compact and Blackstone’s Commentaries on Law.
Biblical wisdom and human trial and error are the cornerstone of the United States of America’s furthering basic human rights. Rights granted by God to live free from tyranny brought on by any person or group. Equals that have no advantage over the other due to fame, fortune or office.
The position of a judge, whether judging his addressers or his peers, can be most effectively communicated by Hebrews 12:11-13: Of course, any discipline is at the time a matter for grief, not joy; but later, in those who have undergone it, it bears fruit in peace and uprightness.
So steady all weary hands and trembling knees and make your crooked paths straight; then the injured limb will not be maimed, it will get better instead.
Great leaders consider themselves servants; those who go last. The responsibility of judging other public servants secures us from doubt and hostility towards unethical or corrupted judges.
Judge Williams did not have any reservations judging his peers, as he recognizes that the JDDC is a necessary watchdog group and his needs are secondary.
“I am judging my peers, and it is to protect the whole system. It is not a problem,” concluded Judge Williams.
Judge Williams has recently received an appointment on the Arkansas Bar Association Foundation and will serve for three years.
Judge Williams was a Municipal Court Judge for the City of Malvern from 1992 through December 31, 2002. In 2002, Judge Williams was elected to become Circuit Judge of the 7th Judicial District, Division I, beginning January 2003, and was also appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to the Arkansas Court Automation Project Committee.
Judge Williams received his B.A. degree from Henderson State University and J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
He had a law practice in Malvern from 1981 to 1992. He is past President of the American Judges Association and a member of the American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arkansas Bar Association, and the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association.
He is a member of the First United Methodist Church where he was the Chair of the Administrative Board. He has served in the past as Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Pastor Parish Committee.
He is a member of the Gideons and Lion’s Club. Judge Williams served as Juvenile Referee from 1982-1986, City Councilman from 1984-1986 and City Attorney from 1986-1992.