You’d think no lawyer in Arkansas was qualified for appointment to an appellate court seat but Cliff Hoofman.
As I predicted here earlier, Gov. Mike Beebe’s midnight appointments as lame-duck governor include a third appointment of Cliff Hoofman to a two-year stint filling a vacated appellate court seat.
This time, Hoofman slides into the seat just vacated by Court of Appeals Judge Rhonda Wood, who’s moving to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Beebe had earlier appointed Hoofman to a court of appeals vacancy and a Supreme Court vacancy to which Wood was elected this year. He also got a Highway Commission appointment from Beebe, who served for years in the Senate with Hoofman.
Hoofman hasn’t had a sparkling tenure on the Supreme Court. Most recently, his ex parte talk with same-sex marriage foe Sen. Jason Rapert preceded his decision to recuse from hearing the case and Beebe appoitnted Robert McCorkindale to sit as special justice in his place. Will the case now be decided by the new Supreme Court? It is a question of some speculation, with no certain answers at this point.
A Court of Appeals judge makes $144,982 and an associate justice makes $149,589. Each year on the bench qualifies a judge for 3.2 percent of pay in pension on retirement. So when this stint is done, Hoofman can add
$27,000 or so a year in retirement pay from judicial service alone to whatever he piled up from his years of service in the Senate. He also qualifies for continued state insurance coverage.
Among other appointments by Beebe today:
Mike Kinard of Magnolia (another former Senate colleague of Beebe’s and a second stint for him on the court) to the Court of Appeals, succeeding Robin Wynne; Donald R. Betterton of Osceola to a district court judgeship in Mississippi County, succeeding Mike Gibson; Jeannie Denniston of Morrilton to Conway County district judge,, replacing Bart Virden; Jake Looney of Mena to Polk County district judge replacing Jerry Ryan, and Gregory Thurman of Berryville as a Carroll County district judge replacing Scott Jackson;