Hutchinson fills judicial vacancies in round of gubernatorial appointments

Hutchinson fills judicial vacancies in round of gubernatorial appointments

Governor Hutchinson announced a batch of gubernatorial appointments Friday, just days away from the power of the office transferring to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

They included five judicial appointments, three of them to fill vacant seats linked to ethical scandal. They were


Keith Chrestman, Jonesboro, as Circuit Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit.  Term expires on December 31, 2024.  Replaces Judge Cindy Thyer, who was elected to state Court of Appeals

Jim Andrews, El Dorado, as Circuit Judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit.  Term expires on December 31, 2024.  Replaces Judge Robin Carroll, who resigned after being suspended for ethical violations.


Ryan Phillips, Magnolia, as District Judge for the Thirty-Ninth Judicial District.  Term expires on December 31, 2024.  Replaces Judge David Graham, who was elected to a circuit judgeship.

Clayton McCall, Russellville, as District Judge for the Eighth Judicial District.  Term begins on January 8, 2023, and expires on December 31, 2024.  Replaces Judge Don Bourne, who resigned after being investigated for ethical violations similar to those that had recently earned him a suspension from the bench..


J. Baxter Sharp III, Brinkley, as District Judge of the Monroe County District Court, Clarendon Department and Holly Grove Department.  Term expires on December 31, 2024.  Replaces David Carruth, who resigned the judgeship to run unopposed for Clarendon city attorney. Carruth has since been indicted for trying to trade judicial action for sexual favors.

Here’s the indictment of Carruth. It wasn’t released when his arrest was announced. 

It includes details about a woman who sought Carruth’s help in her boyfriend’s pending legal case. Carruth had represented the woman before. In their first conversation he mentioned he’d been disciplined after a complaint that he’d sought sexual favors from women in his court. Carruth asked her if she had something of equal or greater value to give him for the risk he would be taking by helping her.  She volunteered to admit crimes she committed.

When she returned to provide that list, she recorded her conversation with Carruth,  the indictment said. From that tape, the indictment relays Carruth saying this:


“I haven’t made up my mind to do anything yet. I got one area I want to explore with you …. And I don’t know how you’re gonna react. Um … how do you feel about sex? I mean … Now listen, stop. Look at me honestly and tell me.” Individual 1 responded, “I’d prefer not [to] have to in order to get this done,” and refused the request. CARRUTH asked, “The next step back from that is … do you have any nice lingerie?” When Individual 1 responded that she did, CARRUTH asked, “Do you mind letting me see you in it?” Individual 1 again refused CARRUTH’s request.

According to the indictment, Carruth then said he’d work on the case and “then said Individual 1 should let him know if she changed her mind about having sex with him or ‘giving [him] a lingerie show.’”  Subsequently, having learned he was under investigation, he tried to tell investigators the woman had tried to offer him sex in return for judicial favors.

Hutchinson’s appointment list also included that of Alison Williams, his chief of staff, to the Arkansas Education Television Commission for a term expiring in March 2030.  Coincidentally, I was reminded this morning that she got some attention on Twitter by appearing in a photo at the election night watch party for Chris Jones, the Democratic candidate Sanders defeated. Williams and Jones, then director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, both participated in the 2020 Presidential Leadership Scholars program.

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