The Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court has been asked to assign a special judge to hear the case of Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Lafayette Woods Sr., who is suing County Judge Gerald Robinson and contending that Robinson’s reduction in force policy prevents him from doing his job properly.
The case was originally assigned to Fifth Division Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis, but in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp, Dennis said she was recusing to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
She went on to say that she was authorized to say that circuit judges Alex Guynn, Robert H. Wyatt, Bill Benton and Leon Jamison, along with district judges John Kearney, Kim Bridgforth and Phillip Green, were also recusing.
Green serves as District Judge in Lincoln County, which is part of the Eleven-West Judicial District.
In the lawsuit, which was filed June 7, Woods argued that while Robinson initially sent an ordinance calling for one position in the Circuit Clerk’s Office to be eliminated, the ordinance that was approved by the Quorum Court eliminated three positions.
He also contended that more than two-thirds of the members of the Quorum Court have said they would not have voted for the reduction in force ordinance had they known that three positions in the Circuit Clerk’s Office would be eliminated.
The lawsuit asks that a judge declare the reduction in force ordinance null and void. It also contends that the state Freedom of Information Act has been violated, and it asks the court to order Robinson to provide the clerk’s office with “sufficient funding to perform the duties mandated by law.”
Robinson said Monday he was aware of the lawsuit, which has been turned over to the county attorney. He said he would have no other comment.
One of the attorneys representing Woods is Luther Sutter of Benton, who moved to the area to run against Dennis for Circuit Judge in 2014 and was soundly defeated. Sutter has also formerly represented the Pine Bluff School District and former Alderman Jack Foster when Foster was ousted from the Pine Bluff City Council after being convicted in federal court of attempted extortion under color of law.