A Fort Smith circuit court judge has been appointed to fill in for state Supreme Court Chief Dan Kemp in deciding a challenge to a proposed constitutional amendment concerning lawsuit damages on the November ballot.
On Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Sebastian County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Tabor to fill in for the chief justice as a special justice during a challenge to the Issue 1 ballot measure.
Chief Justice Kemp recently recused himself from the challenge to Issue 1. He has also recused himself from two challenges to Issue 4, a ballot measure that seeks to legalize casino gaming in Arkansas. Kemp has not explained why he was stepping down from the challenges, although he previously spoke against Issue 1 in the state legislature concerning the ballot measure’s impact on judicial decision-making.
Issue 1 was struck from the ballot earlier this month by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce. He ruled that the ballot measure violates the state’s constitution, as it combines separate measures into a single amendment.
The proposed constitution amendment would limit noneconomic and punitive damages in lawsuits and cap attorneys’ contingency fees. In addition, the amendment would grant the state Legislature control over judicial rules and decisions.