Means won’t seek reelection: Cites health, family as reasons


The Sentinel-Record   9-24-1977
Associated Press

MALVERN, Ark – Judge Henry B. Means of Malvern, circuit judge of the 7th Judicial District, announced Friday that he will not seek reelection in 1978.

In a prepared statement means said, “Although I have received more solicitations to seek reelection for another term than I have at any other time, I make this reluctant decision not to seek another term as circuit judge.

“The recent ordeal that I have been subjected to has convinced me that it would be in the best interest of my health and for my family to announce to you that I will not seek reelection.”

Means has served as judge of the seventh district, which includes Saline, Hot Spring, and Grant counties, for 19 years.

In November 1976 Means presided over a case involving five defendants accused on drug charges. Four of them pleaded guilty. Means imposed only fines and probation as their penalty. Means dismissed the charge against the fifth defendant, who pleaded innocent.

In subsequent federal court trials the four who pleaded guilty were convicted. The fifth was acquitted.

Pros. Atty. John W. Cole of Sheridan strongly protested Means’ handling of the case in court, and was cited for contempt by Means.

Publicity about the incidents, including Cole’s protest, led to a public outcry among some citizens of the district against what Means had done. Representative William Clark of Sheridan filed a resolution this year with the legislature’s Interim Committee on Legislative Affairs calling for an investigation by the committee to see if it should recommend to the legislature that Means be removed from office for good cause.

The majority of the committee agreed to undertake the investigation. The state attorney general acted as legal counsel.

The investigation continued for several months, and included several hearings. Finally, the committee voted to conclude that Means had committed “gross indiscretions” by rendering title opinions on land ownership for a savings and loan association of which he was a director, and by engaging in discussions which resulted in the fines and probations.

The committee said those actions had not been serious enough in the past to justify removal from office, but they would be in the future if Means continued them.

In his statement released today, Means said, “I do not intend to do any title examination for the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Malvern until my retirement from the bench.

“I take this action to avoid unnecessary criticism or embarrassment to that outstanding financial institution, and not because of any belief on my part that I have violated any law or standard of ethics in having done this very limited title work.”

Prior to his election as circuit judge, Means served four years as prosecuting attorney for the district. He has also served as city attorney and later as municipal judge of Malvern.

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