Griffen files brief with high court

(August 27, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- A state appeals judge says he was speaking for himself -- not as the voice of the state judiciary -- when he criticized the University of Arkansas' record on racial diversity. Appeals judge Wendell Griffen -- who was disciplined for his comments before a group of state legislators -- made the argument in a brief filed in the state Supreme Court. The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission voted in November to issue a letter of admonition to Griffen for comments he made at a March 2002 hearing, conducted by the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus. The commission concluded that the judge violated the state judicial code of conduct by criticizing the Fayetteville campus at the public hearing. Griffen petitioned the high court to overturn the action, contending that it and the commission's interpretation of the code violated his rights to free speech and due process.