Governor Asa Hutchinson will soon appoint Karen Whatley to Arkansas’ 6th Judicial District, 7th Division Circuit Court, the Governor’s Office announced Wednesday. Whatley currently serves as Hutchinson’s Chief Legal Counsel and previously served as his Director of Legislative and Agency Affairs. She will replace Judge Barry Sims.
The Sixth Circuit is one of 23 circuit courts in Arkansas. It serves Perry County and Pulaski County, and has 17 divisions with one judge in each.
“Karen will be an exceptional judge for the Sixth Judicial District. Her expansive experience in criminal law makes her the appropriate appointee for this position. I am thankful for Karen’s service to my office and the State of Arkansas. I wish Judge Barry Sims well in his impending retirement,” Governor Hutchinson said.
Whatley has been practicing law for over 25 years and specializes in criminal law. She was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas for nearly 14 years prior to joining Arkansas law firm Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard where she practiced in the litigation department for four years.
“I would like to thank Governor Hutchinson for this appointment. Being a part of the judiciary is an honor and a great responsibility, and I look forward to continuing to serve the State of Arkansas in this capacity,” Whatley said.
Whatley is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She and her husband, Trey, have four children and live in Little Rock. Whatley’s term begins on March 1, 2022, and expires on Dec. 31, 2024.