Who’ll be your judge? It’s up to you!

Judges are elected in Arkansas, so the choice of who will sit on the bench in your district is up to you. Judicial elections are non-partisan and candidates cannot publicly say if they are Democrat or Republican. So how will you make your choice?

This blog series is intended to introduce you to each candidate as you decide which ones deserve your vote! The decisions we make as voters have a lasting impact on our lives—these judges make decisions about criminal issues, family issues, & your disputes with your neighbor. Don’t take that responsibility lightly.

Getting to Know Your Candidates

Lion Legal Services asked all of the candidates the same questions and limited the answers to 100 words. We formatted the Q&A here for readability, but we did not make any changes in content. The responses are verbatim from the candidates themselves.

Over the next several weeks, we will share profiles of each judicial candidate in Central Arkansas.

Lion Legal Services is not endorsing or analyzing or comparing these candidates. We are simply giving you an opportunity to get to know them and their judicial philosophies, in their own words.

Scott Richardson for Judge: AR District 6, Div. 2
An image of Scott RichardsonPlease provide a short statement of your biographical information. 
Born and raised in Pulaski County, I’ve practiced here for my 18 years in the law. I spent almost ten years at the Arkansas Attorney General’s office under Governor Mike Beebe and then-Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. When AG McDaniel left office, we formed a law firm where I’ve been in private practice since 2015. Two years ago, my wife Marci and I moved from Little Rock to the country where we are raising our four children on a small farm. We raise sheep, chickens, and bees. It’s been a real adventure for this city boy.

What makes you uniquely qualified for this position? 
2nd Division handles civil litigation and that is what I’ve always done. From contract cases to family law to business cases to civil rights work, my practice has involved a wide array of complex civil matters. These cases involve much more motions practice and complex discovery issues, including electronic discovery that would benefit from a judge who has hands-on experience managing civil litigation.
I have also represented plaintiffs, defendants, mothers, fathers, and all sides of disputes. This variety of experience will help me to hear all sides of disputes and be fair to all who come before me.

What is your general judicial philosophy? What policy change would you advocate for in our judicial system? 
A judge should know the law, know the burden of proof, and do what is right. People who come to court should be able to rely on a judge who knows and applies the law to resolve their disputes. A judge should respect those people and their lawyers so that everyone experiences a fair day in court and receives due process.
Expansion of specialty courts that help address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens will help improve our communities: drug courts, mental health courts, veteran’s courts. We should modernize our courts with greater use of technology.

Arkansas has the lowest number of attorneys per capita of any state in the nation & a very low median income, meaning traditional legal services are unaffordable for many Arkansans. What individual, practical steps will you take in your courtroom to increase meaningful access to the justice system if you are elected? 
Step one is to ensure that people of every race, age, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity are respected and receive their day in Court. The most creative approach to the problem of access to justice is the new rules on limited scope representation. They allow a person to go to court with guidance from an attorney without having to pay for the full slate of legal services of the traditional attorney/client relationship. Courts should be hospitable to this new arrangement and our excellent legal aid agencies, to support expanded access to justice.

Hugh Finkelstein for Judge: AR District 6, Div. 2
Image of Hugh FinkelsteinPlease provide a short statement of your biographical information. 
I’ve practiced law for almost 28 years, and I’ve handled almost every type of case as an attorney and as a judge. I am currently Chief Deputy Prosecutor for the 20th Judicial District, and I’ve been a civil and criminal attorney in private practice. In 2017 and 2018, I served as Little Rock District Judge, where I presided over thousands of cases. During that time, I was voted Judge of the Year twice by the Pulaski Bar Association. I live in Little Rock with my wife, Ginger Stuart. I have two grown children, Will and Kassandra, and one grandson, Elias.

What makes you uniquely qualified for this position? 
I am qualified for this position because I am the only candidate in this race who has served as a judge. I understand what is required to make decisions that have a profound effect on people’s lives. I’ve made those decisions fairly and treated everyone with respect. As an attorney, I’ve handled thousands of cases and fought for justice for families of murder victims, survivors of sexual assaults and many other victims of crime. I have held people responsible for their actions and helped people get back on the right track by allowing them to have a second chance.

What is your general judicial philosophy? What policy change would you advocate for in our judicial system? 
My philosophy is to promote confidence in the judiciary. This begins with treating everyone fairly, listening to all the evidence, and deciding cases based on the law, rather than the party’s wealth or who their lawyer is. People need to have their day in court and know that even if the decision is not in their favor, the process is still fair. I did this as district judge and will continue this as circuit judge. Changes I would make include streamlining the process so cases are heard more timely and staggering case settings to respect people’s time and resources.

Arkansas has the lowest number of attorneys per capita of any state in the nation & a very low median income, meaning traditional legal services are unaffordable for many Arkansans. What individual, practical steps will you take in your courtroom to increase meaningful access to the justice system if you are elected? 
As district judge, I presided over many cases with unrepresented people. Because they are not trained in the law, it is rare that they are sufficiently qualified to represent themselves, and their cause often suffers because of that. Limited scope representation is a positive development for many people who could not otherwise afford legal help, and it results in better pleadings, improved productivity in hearings and more just results. Also, judges should encourage lawyers to do more pro bono cases and volunteer through Legal Services. People should have quality representation regardless of their ability to pay.

Casey Tucker for Judge: AR District 6, Div. 2
Please provide a short statement of your biographical information.
Casey Tucker, a lifelong resident of Arkansas, has been married to her husband for 25 years. They have two young adult children ages 20 and 17.  She attended U of A Fayetteville for both undergraduate and law school. Casey’s legal practice is a civil trial practice including jury trials.

What makes you uniquely qualified for this position?
This Civil Law division hears civil jury trials and cases, only. There is no reasonable expectation that any criminal cases will be assigned to this division. Casey will hit the ground fully prepared as she has represented thousands of clients in civil law. She has been the voice for her clients for more than 22 years, standing before juries and trial judges across the state. Her clients are victims of civil wrongdoing including breach of contract and breach of a duty of care. She has a very strong understanding of the word “justice,” especially when representing injured parties in complex lawsuits ranging from car accidents to professional negligence.

What is your general judicial philosophy? What policy change would you advocate for in our judicial system?
In Arkansas we elect judges, and Casey understands voters want a judge who listens, works hard and is always fair. She believes a judge is the last voice in an overly complicated legal system. Casey is the first person in her family to graduate college and the only one to graduate with a law license, and she credits her family and extended family for the support of raising a family and being a professional woman. Casey believes every citizen, regardless of race, creed, color, or gender is entitled to equal justice, and her law practice has been a testament to this American ideal for the past 22 years.

Arkansas has the lowest number of attorneys per capita of any state in the nation & a very low median income, meaning traditional legal services are unaffordable for many Arkansans. What individual, practical steps will you take in your courtroom to increase meaningful access to the justice system if you are elected? 
Pulaski County has more lawyers per capita than any other county in the state, yet we still suffer the same problems flowing from the under-representation of our low-income populations. In the civil case context, we see unequal justice as overreaching by a landlord, deceptive trade practices and loan sharking, and illegal debt collection practices. As Circuit Judge, Casey will always listen. She understands her role in that situation as creating a substantial record and inviting input. She will not rely on technicalities to end a case prematurely. This open-door judicial philosophy will benefit the justice system by acknowledging the voice of the public and inviting participation and transparency.