AR Briefly

Second Arkansas Supreme Court judge plans run for chief justice in 2024

By: - May 10, 2023 4:31 pm

(Getty Images)

A second Arkansas Supreme Court justice announced her candidacy for the state’s chief justice position on Wednesday.

Associate Justice Rhonda Wood of Conway said she planned to run to lead the state’s highest court in 2024.

Associate Justice Rhonda Wood

She’ll face fellow associate justice, Karen Baker, in the race to replace Chief Justice John Dan Kemp, who announced plans to retire last week.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Barbara Webb has also been said to be considering a run for chief justice.

Wood was first elected to the Supreme Court in 2014, and she was reelected last year. Before that, Wood served on the state Court of Appeals and as a circuit judge.

She described herself as a “conservative, nonactivist jurist.”

“The Chief Justice position is one that comes with immense responsibility, but also opportunity. I’m confident that I have the right experience and judicial temperament to serve in this important role,” Wood said in a campaign announcement.

Baker of Clinton is a former public defender who also served as a district judge, circuit judge and on the Court of Appeals. She was first elected to the Supreme Court in 2011.

Associate Justice Karen Baker

“I believe my experience at every level of the judiciary is unmatched and I am currently the senior, most experienced justice, on the Arkansas Supreme Court,” Baker said in a campaign announcement. “I want to continue to put that experience to work for the people of Arkansas.”

Both judges graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

Judicial elections are nonpartisan in Arkansas. The election for chief justice will be on March 5, 2024.

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Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.