Means still has judicial obligations


The Sentinel-Record   10-18-1977

Little Rock (AP) – Circuit Court Judge Henry B. Means of Malvern has not given up all of his judicial duties and may later preside over some cases, a state judicial official said Monday.

C. R. Huie, executive director of the state Judicial Department, said Means signed an order Monday as judge.

Means also is thinking about asking a doctor why he shouldn’t go ahead and preside over some jury trial cases which are pending, Huie said.

Last week, Means issued a statement through his court reporter, Pat Lightfoot, saying that on doctors orders he would not hear anymore cases this year.

Because of a heart condition, the doctor told Means to avoid pressure situations such as court trials.

But Huie said Means told him later that perhaps the doctor did not realize how easy it was for Means to preside at a jury trial after serving as judge for nearly two decades.

Huie said Means has an appointment with the doctor at the end of this month and plans to see if it might be okay for Means to continue to preside over jury trials.

No trials are scheduled for the district – the 7th – this week, but several are on the calendar for next week.

If those trials are held as scheduled, some current or former judge will be brought in to hear them or the lawyers of the district will be asked to choose someone among themselves to preside, Huie said.

Means will know by the end of the month whether he will be able to preside on subsequent case, Huie said.

Substitute judges will be chosen from among the district lawyers, or transferred in from the ranks of other active judges, so long as Means remains the official judge, even though he becomes inactive, Huie said.

If Means resigned, another person could be appointed judge and an election could be held to fill the vacancy.

Earlier this year, Means announced he would not seek reelection. That came after a four month legislative inquiry concluded that he had engaged in “gross indiscretions.” These consisted of practicing law by rendering title opinions and by telling defense lawyers in a controversial drug case what sentence he would impose if the defendants pleaded guilty.

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