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Jim Hannah

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Jim Hannah
Court Information:
Arkansas Supreme Court
Title:   Chief Justice
Position:   Position 1
Salary:  $160,000
Active:   2001-2016
Chief:   2004-2016
Past position:   Arkansas Seventeenth Circuit
Past term:   1979-1999
Past position 2:   Attorney, Lightle, Tedder, Hannah & Beeb
Personal History
Undergraduate:   University of Arkansas
Law School:   University of Arkansas School of Law

Jim Hannah is the chief justice of the seven member Arkansas Supreme Court. He was first elected to his eight-year term as Chief Justice in 2004. He was first elected to the court in the state's Non-partisan popular elections in 2001 and then re-elected in 2008. His current term expires in 2016.[1][2]


Hannah earned his undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Arkansas. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law.[1]


Hannah was a former City Attorney for the cities of Augusta, Bradford, Des Arc, Garner, Kensett, and Rosebud. From 1969 to 1978, he served as a City Attorney for Searcy, Arkansas. He has also worked as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Woodruff County and City Judge in Kensett and Rosebud. From 1976 to 1978, he was a White County Juvenile Judge and, from 1979 to 1999, a Chancery and Probate Judge for the 17th Judicial District. He also worked as a private practice lawyer in the law firm Lightle, Tedder, Hannah & Beeb before joining the supreme court in 2001. He held Position 5 on the Arkansas Supreme Court from 2001 until 2004 when he was elected to Position 1 as Chief Justice.[1]

Awards and associations


  • Ozark Ambassador Award, North Arkansas College Foundation


  • Board of Directors, State Justice Institute, 2010
  • Past President, Arkansas Judicial Council
  • Member, Arkansas Bar Association
  • Chair, Conference of Chief Justices Committee on Courts, Children & Families
  • Member, Conference of Chief Justices Judicial Excellence Committee
  • Fellow, American Bar Association
  • Member, Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the United States
  • Board Member, Arkansas Judicial Council
  • Past President, Arkansas Judicial Council
  • Member, Conference of Chief Justices Government Affairs Committee
  • Member, Committee on Federal - State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the United States
  • Member, Executive Session for State Court Leaders, Harvard, University
  • Past Member, American Judges Association
  • Past President, White County Bar Association
  • Past Treasurer, White County Bar Association
  • Past Secretary, White County Bar Association
  • Former Chairman, Arkansas Court Reporters Examiners Board
  • Chairman, Drug Court Advisory Committee
  • Secretary, Arkansas Board of Pardons and Paroles, 1972-1979
  • Past Chairman of the Board of Advisors, Wilbur Mills Alcoholism Treatment Center
  • Former Member of the Board of Directors, Kiwanis Club of Searcy
  • Co-founder, Kiwanis Little League Basketball
  • Chairman, Kiwanis Little League Basketball
  • Former Director, Kiwanis Little League Baseball
  • Former Coach, Little Leauge Baseball and Basketball
  • Former President, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Parents Club
  • Member, Presbytery of Arkansas Nominations Committee
  • Former Deacon, First Presbyterian Church of Searcy[1][3]



Arkansas Supreme Court, Chief Justice, Position 1
2008 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Jim Hannah Green check mark transparent.png Approved
  • Click here for 2008 General Election Results from the Arkansas Secretary of State.

Hannah ran unopposed to win re-election in 2008.[4]


Arkansas Supreme Court, Chief Justice, Position 1
2004 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Jim Hannah Green check mark transparent.png 191,695 62.5%
Wendell Griffen 114,835 37.5%
  • Click here for 2004 General Election Results from the Arkansas Secretary of State.


  • Jim Hannah - 57% of votes
  • Max Koonce - 43% of votes[5]

Notable cases

Arkansas Marriage Amendment

The Arkansas Marriage Amendment, Proposal 3 (2004) came before the Arkansas Supreme Court and ultimately passed the court. The argument brought before the court was mainly a concern of a misleading Ballot measure title that incorporated legalese. The measure passed the court and was added to the Arkansas 2004 ballot measures for the election in November that year. The measure passed and has since amended the constitution.[6]

The amendment's text stated that, “Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman. Legal status for unmarried persons which is identical or substantially similar to marital status shall not be valid or recognized in Arkansas, except that the legislature may recognize a common law marriage from another state between a man and a woman. The legislature has the power to determine the capacity of persons to marry, subject to this amendment, and the legal rights, obligations, privileges, and immunities of marriage.”[7]

Justice Jim Hannah argued in his dissent that the name of the ballot measure was misleading and should have used the popular name of the measure in an effort be upfront and forthright with the voters. He also stated that, "The term 'legal status for unmarried persons' is hopelessly vague and ambiguous. The legal status of unmarried persons is clearly 'unmarried.'"[8]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Hannah received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of -0.49, indicating a liberal ideological leaning. This is more liberal than the average CF score of -0.48 that justices received in Arkansas. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[9]

See also

External links


ArkansasArkansas Supreme CourtArkansas Court of AppealsArkansas Circuit CourtsArkansas District CourtsArkansas City CourtsUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of ArkansasUnited States District Court for the Western District of ArkansasUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern and Western Districts of ArkansasUnited States Court of Appeals for the Eighth CircuitArkansas countiesArkansas judicial newsArkansas judicial electionsJudicial selection in ArkansasArkansasTemplate.jpg