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Dan Kemp, the retiring chief justice, visits Arkansas’s judicial districts and challenges the law limiting judges’ age



Little Rock, Arkansas – Before stepping down, Chief Justice Dan Kemp of the Arkansas Supreme Court is touring all 28 of the state’s judicial districts. Kemp has decided not to run for reelection at the end of his current term.

On Friday, Kemp addressed members of the Sebastian County Bar Association in Fort Smith as well as local judges and court officials.

The top justice stated that if he ran for another term on the Arkansas Supreme Court, he would forfeit his retirement benefits through the legal system as a result of a state statute.

For circuit and appellate court judges who are 70 years of age or older, Kemp stated that the statute is applicable.

“That was a law that was instituted probably about 50, 60 years ago. I heard it was to get rid of a bad judge in some part of the state,” Kemp said. “The legislature kept it, hadn’t changed it. You don’t have that age limit on any other judicial position or any other executive or legislative position, so I don’t see why we should have it for circuit or appellate judges in Arkansas.

Kemp, who led the state’s top court for over seven years as chief justice, said the best counsel he could offer the future chief justice was to maintain composure.

“You may have what you think is a serious problem and it is serious for some people, but when you step away from it, get it completed, and successfully complete it, you realize it wasn’t that big a deal that you need to blow out of proportion,” Kemp said.

“I just tried to stay calm and hope that our next chief justice would be calm in addressing the problems that have to be addressed for the court,” he said.

On March 5, 2024, the Arkansas Supreme Court will hold elections for the position of chief justice.


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