Arkansas prosecutor under fire for collecting signatures for judicial run while trying a murder case

Arkansas prosecutor Stephanie Potter Barrett, who is seeking a seat on the state’s Court of Appeals, has come under criticism after it was revealed that her aunt was collecting signatures to get Barrett on the ballot inside the courthouse. More distressingly, at least one of the signatures favoring Barrett’s candidacy was from a juror seated in a murder trial which Barrett was prosecuting.

Barrett insists that she did nothing wrong; she did not collect the signatures herself, and she argues that the courthouse is a public space at which collection of signatures is permitted. But others are not so sure: several ethics experts pointed out that judges cannot use the courthouse to engage in political activity, and suggest that a judicial candidate should be equally restricted. The defendant in the murder trial is also seeking a mistrial based on the juror signature.

It is entirely possible that Barrett really believes that she has done nothing wrong. And it is also entirely possible that the juror who signed the petition knows nothing about Barrett, or even associated her petition with the individual prosecuting the case. (Some people will sign anything.) But the optics are terrible. The courthouse appears politicized, and the fairness of the murder conviction is in doubt.

Reasonable people may differ over the propriety of choosing judges through a direct election. But elections open the door to these kinds of stories, and these kinds of stories erode public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice itself.

One thought on “Arkansas prosecutor under fire for collecting signatures for judicial run while trying a murder case”

  1. Important one. But, I quote from the related article:

    Barrett said she assumed her aunt, a master gardener with an office in the courthouse, had collected the juror’s signature the first day of the trial, possibly while the jury was on a break. The prosecutor said she never spoke with any jurors about her campaign for the Court of Appeals.

    End of quotation:

    So, it is not that what she did, has been done by her indeed, and by nature is wrong. But rather ,and assuming that she said it so, and it does represent the truth, that indeed, nothing at all has been done by her, whether wrong, whether right. So, irrelevant simply to accuse her ( assuming that she speaks the truth). Factually/ physically nothing done by her, and no intent either has been shown for any wrongdoing.

    So, let’s separate first, the act, from the actor.

    Thanks

    Like

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