On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, the Arkansas Times reported that the Arkansas Supreme Court removed a circuit court judge from a case involving a ruling on attorneys carrying firearms in courthouses.

The dispute began when the state Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision by Circuit Judge Morgan “Chip” Welch that barred attorneys from bringing guns into courthouses. While the high court allowed attorneys to have firearms in common areas on the first floor, Welch had concerns about safety and limiting guns only to those areas.

In particular, Welch wondered how to prevent inmates at the courthouse from accessing any firearms. He issued a temporary order keeping the restrictions within the courthouse stricter than the Supreme Court’s ruling until an August hearing could further address safety problems. However, the judge referred to the high court’s decision allowing guns as the “Lawyer/officer-of-the-court Carry Opinion” and used the acronym “LOCO,” which means crazy or insane in Spanish.

Taking issue with Welch’s characterization and tone, the Supreme Court then removed him from the case, citing potential violations of the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct relating to impartiality, bias, and promoting confidence in the judiciary. The order argued Welch broke rules prohibiting manifesting bias through language or attempting humorous stereotyping.

However, Justice Courtney Hudson dissented, arguing there was no emergency to rush consideration ahead of other cases. While acknowledging discontent with Welch’s language, Hudson said his failure to fully comply with the mandate was not extraordinary enough to constitute an emergency.



Source: Arkansas Times