The Arkansas state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has dismissed an ethics charge against a judge who also is a Baptist pastor for participating in an anti-death penalty demonstration on Good Friday 2017.
The Arkansas Times reported June 12 that the commission dismissed the charge pending for Judge Wendell Griffen because it failed to prosecute the case within an 18-month statute of limitation.
The commission canceled a hearing scheduled this week to determine whether Griffen, pastor of New Millennium Baptist Church in Little Rock, violated judicial ethics by lying motionless on a cot at a prayer vigil in advance of planned executions “in solidarity with Jesus, the leader of our religion who was put to death by crucifixion by the Roman Empire.”
The latest delay resulted from a schedule conflict preventing the commission’s special counsel from appearing during hours of her full-time job.
Griffen, barred from hearing death penalty cases after issuing a court order in a dispute about ownership of a drug used in the lethal injection protocol, has long maintained the inquiry was politically motivated.
He claimed being a judge does not deprive him of the civil rights of free speech and religious exercise guaranteed to all citizens, and his personal religious views about capital punishment have no bearing on his ability to rule impartially on a matter of law.