Wendell Griffen

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Wendell Griffen
Court Information:
Arkansas Sixth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Position:   Division 5
Active:   2011-2016
Past position:   Visiting Professor of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
Past term:   2009-2010
Past position 2:   Judge, Arkansas Court of Appeals
Past term 2:   1996-2008
Personal History
Religion:   Baptist
Undergraduate:   Department of Defense Race Relations Institute, 1975
Law School:   University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, 1979
Military service:   U.S. Army

Wendell Griffen is the Division 5 judge of the Sixth Circuit, for Pulaski County in Arkansas. He was elected in 2010 and his term expires in 2016.


Griffen got his J.D. at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1979. He previously graduated from the Department of Defense Race Relations Institute (now the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute) in 1975.[1][2]


  • 2011-2016: Judge, Sixth Circuit
  • 2009-2010: Visiting Professor of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
  • 2008-Present: Founder and CEO, Griffen Strategic Consulting
  • 1996-2008: Judge, Arkansas Court of Appeals
  • 1987-1996: Attorney, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings
  • 1985-1987: Chairman, Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission
  • 1979-1985: Attorney, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings
  • 1979: Admitted to the Arkansas Bar[3][2]

Awards and associations

  • 1976: Army Commendation Medal, U.S. Army
  • Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Office of the 43d General Support Group, U.S. Army
  • Council for the American Bar Association Section of Science and Technology Law
  • President, Pulaski County Bar Association
  • President, Judge William R. Overton Inn of Court
  • Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church of Little Rock
  • Pastor, New Millennium Church
  • Board, Interfaith Alliance of Arkansas
  • Parliamentarian, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.[2][4]

2010 Circuit Court bid

Main article: Arkansas judicial elections, 2010

Griffen won election to the Division 5 seat on the Sixth Circuit, Pulaski County. He received 51.31% of the vote.[5][6]

Notable cases

State judge finds federal office in contempt of court

A county judge in Arkansas has found a U.S. Attorney’s office in contempt. In 2012, Arkansas Sixth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ordered the Little Rock office to pay $12,702 in fees, a sum which it did not pay until the finding of contempt on November 1, 2013. Had the office waited any longer to comply with the September 2012 sanctions, Griffen’s court would have fined the federal office $300 per day.


The fees were due to three private defense attorneys who represented USA Drug marketing executive Garret Sorensen, his wife and his sister-in-law in a criminal case. Sorenson pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering, but Griffen, along with U.S. District Judge William Wilson, sanctioned the federal prosecutors for snatching a related civil case from the state court and bringing it into federal court. U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer noted that Wilson earlier agreed to lift his sanctions on the U.S. Attorney’s office’s promise not to repeat its transgression. Griffen made no such agreement.[7][8][9]

Griffen described the federal government’s defiance of his sanctions as “willful disobedience,” a charge First Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Harris denied, and said that was “consistent with the way the United States has behaved since its intervention in the case.”[7] At the end of the hearing on the morning of November 1, Griffen said, “The conduct of the government in this case all but sickens me.”[7]

The government, Thyer said, had intended to appeal the sanctions but could not until Griffen closed the case. Harris, who delivered the checks to attorneys Pat James, Erin Cassinelli and Chuck Banks, formally objected to the punishments. At the hearing, he argued that paying the fees would waive the prosecutors’ right to appeal. Harris did not make this argument until last week, as he acknowledged in response to a question from Griffen in a brief filed before the hearing. Griffen disagreed with Harris’s point, arguing that compliance with sanctions would not have waived any such right. Griffen said Harris’s concern about the government’s right to appeal was “more than slightly unpersuasive.”[7]

Sorenson is serving a 33-month sentence in federal prison. Prosecutors dropped all charges against his wife Katherine and her sister Shannon Walters after he entered his guilty plea. Of the $12,702 in fees, $4,170 went to James, Garret’s lawyer, $5,240 went to Cassinelli, Katherine’s lawyer, and $3,292 went to Banks, Walters’ lawyer.[7][8]

See also

External links


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