John L. Kearney, Pine Bluff Division 2 District Court judge, will seek re-election to the seat he has held for the past three terms, according to a news release. He began his first four-year term in 2009. The present term will end on Dec. 31, 2020.
Pine Bluff attorney Efrem Neely has also announced his intention to seek the position. According to a news release, prior to his election to District Court, Kearney practiced law in Pine Bluff and the state of Arkansas for 34 years.
Kearney is a graduate of Fields High School in Gould in Lincoln County; a graduate of A M & N College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), with a B. A. degree in history and government; and a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville.
His work experience includes his first job out of college as a teacher of history and social studies at Townsend Park School in the Dollarway School District; administrative aide to former governor of Arkansas, David Pryor; and being full-time and adjunct professorships at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and UAPB.
He has served as an adjunct professor at UAPB for more than 35 years. Additionally, he has worked at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Jefferson Proving Ground (U. S. Army) in Madison, Indiana, and the Neighborhood Youth Corps in Pine Bluff-Jefferson County.
As a practicing attorney, Kearney has been granted special privilege by the local courts to handle cases in Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Michigan, and Mississippi, and is licensed to practice before the U. S. District Court, U. S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and the U. S. Tax Court.
Kearney said in the release that his early life was most influenced by the challenges he witnessed and experienced while growing up in racially segregated, poverty-stricken conditions, where education, religious faith and confidence in one’s self sustained him, his family and their community.
He said in the news release that he believes that “the positive teachings and experience received from his parents and all his mentors are easily and continuously brought to bear in his deliberations as a judge: To be fair to each and every person based upon their circumstance, no matter what their circumstances and to strive to have a positive impact on each individual encountered.”
He added that: “I am particularly concerned and try as much as possible, to see that persons appearing before me take responsibility for their actions, obtain driver’s licenses and permits as required, get needed mental health and rehabilitation, and get and retain employment. Finding that you can succeed breeds success.”
According to the news release, Kearney “knows about responsibility and hard work as the eighth child in a family of 18 siblings.”
Eight of his siblings hold law degrees, as well as a son and four nephews. He has been married to his wife Janice for 37 years. His community service includes his prior service on the Board of Directors of the Pine Bluff Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Tiny Tot Day Care centers. He is currently a member of Faith Presbyterian church of Pine Bluff, where he serves as elder, church clerk, choir member, and teaches Sunday school.
Kearney also said, “It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve the people of Pine Bluff, Jefferson and Lincoln counties as your district court judge. I believe that the wisdom I have gained through my service will enhance my ability to be of greater service. I thank all of the people for their support, and I look forward to continuing this service.”